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A Season in Cairo

Living in Cairo

Tourist visas, available on arrival at Cairo International Airport, are valid for one month. This gives you time to settle in. If you need a place to hang your hat cheaply, there is always the Pension Zamalek (Salah el-Din St., Zamalek, Tel. 340-9318), where an expatriate friend of mine lived quite happily for a couple of years. Many cheap hostels-including the Windsor Hotel (as seen on Around the World in 80 Days, Tel. 591-5277), the Cosmopolitan Hotel (592-3845) are located downtown. For long stays the price is always negotiable. See Lonely Planet's Egypt and the Sudan for a complete list.

Finding an apartment depends upon your budget and preferences. (Cairo is a very safe city, no matter which district you choose.) If you're on a tight budget, check out the notice boards in the Sunny Supermarket (Mohandiseen), the British Community Association Clubhouses (also in Mohandi-seen, 348-1358), or the Cairo Rugby Club (350-5284). The porter/doorman/gofer at every residential building in Cairo (the bowwab) knows exactly what's available in his building and those of his friends and will soon put the word out that a khwagga is seeking accommodations.

Should you want to be more than a tourist, there are many opportunities for volunteer work in Cairo. Al-Nur wa l'Amal (Light and Hope), run entirely by volunteers, is a boarding center for blind girls that educates and trains them to be self-sufficient. Alwadi Orphanage looks after up to 220 boys and girls. The Deaf School needs volunteers to help hearing-impaired children with after-school activities. Contact numbers (and details on other organizations) can be obtained from All Saints Cathedral in Zamalek.

If you want to get out of town and meet lots of people, your best bet is to get together with the local Hash House Harriers www.Cairohash.com. They can arrange lifts for the transport-challenged and show you places that some Cairenes have never seen. They also organize budget trips to the Sinai, the oases, and many other stunning desert locations.

For a deciphering the complexities of living, working, and enjoying life in one of the world's most exciting and dauntingly complex mega-cities, get a copy of Cairo: The Practical Guide 2001 Edition by Claire E. Francy (The American Univ. in Cairo Press, $15.95).

English-Teaching Jobs Online: www.eslcafe.com and www.tefl.com.

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