The other day it rained in Cairo. While this might not seem strange to you, rain in Cairo is not a common occurrence. I would estimate that we have had some rain about five times in the six months that we’ve been here. And that has mostly been light showers once or twice throughout a particular day. So, when I go out in the morning, I sometimes will go on our balcony to check the temperature and see if we need jackets or not, but the idea of it raining never crosses my mind.
The day it rained, I didn’t even check the temperature, so I took the girls downstairs in the double stroller, on the way to Emma’s preschool, and was surprised to see the wet ground and smell the rain. It wasn’t raining too hard, and because of the stroller canopies, I was the only one who would really get wet, so I didn’t want to change plans for the morning and take a taxi. I figured that’s it is Cairo anyway, and we certainly wouldn’t have too much rain. I was surprised that I did get wet on the way to preschool, but it had mostly slowed down by the time we got there.
Hannah and I dropped Emma off, and then went to run some errands. First we were going to drop some things off at an American friend’s house where we visited for about an hour as Hannah played with their little boy. I noticed at one point as I looked out the window that it was raining quite hard, and I hoped it would stop because I had some errands I really wanted to run that morning.
By the time we left our friend’s house, it had slowed quite a bit, so we went to the grocery store and then to the post office and finally to a local restaurant to pick up a container of hummus. I put Hannah’s shade back at the restaurant so I could keep my eye on her while I picked up the hummus, but then went and put it back down when I noticed she was getting rained on. Fortunately this was our last stop and we got back home before getting too wet.
When we went out later to pick Emma up, I decided to take a taxi since this time I knew the rain was a problem. We taxied there and back, but did notice the sun was shining and the clouds were clearing by this time. It seemed simply to be another typical, though infrequent, rainy day for Cairo. Jayson came home for lunch a short while later and said it was very nice out. This encouraged me to put out some of the laundry I had kept inside earlier because of the rain.
Later that afternoon, after the girls woke from their naps and I was doing something in the kitchen, I heard a strange noise. It took me a few minutes to realize that the sound was that of pouring rain! I quickly remembered the laundry and ran to the balcony to bring it in, but not until after it had caught quite a bit of dirt from the rain. It also caught a few little hail balls. Wow, how cool! When I opened the balcony door and Emma and Hannah heard the sounds, they were quite scared. It also was thundering and lightning which is something they haven’t heard now for six months. I know it can be scary for many kids, and ours were no exception. I was pretty excited since a storm was so rare here, but I also realized that Jayson would be walking home soon and was wondering how he was going to make it home dry! He returned about half an hour later with a shirt that was wet and dirty from a strong Cairo rain. Fortunately the thunder and lightning didn’t continue long enough to disturb the girls from going to bed, but the storm did seem to make an internet connection difficult which messed up plans to Skype grandparents. It probably didn’t help that they were getting a strong snowstorm at the same time we were having our rainstorm. I wondered what all the rain was going to do to the roads we usually walk around town. The next day was Friday, first day of our weekend, and the day we usually attend church. We’d have to see if the way would be walkable.
The next morning I looked out on the balcony and it had stopped raining, but it was chilly, and everything around was wet, including a small lake at the schoolyard across the street. I knew that trying to walk to church with the stroller would be quite messy and perhaps impossible at some points, and our normal Friday schedule of sitting at their outdoor coffee area while Emma attended Sunday School would not work too well either due to the cold and the wet. So, we opted to stay in all day. It made me realize that it’s kind of hard here to find things to go out and do, if the weather is bad. It’s a good thing the weather isn’t bad too often!
I did actually get to venture out later that day on my own, as the girls were napping. I needed to do some shopping in another part of town, and Jayson being home allowed me to get this done without the girls in tow. I first of all walked a few blocks to board one of the local minibuses to travel to another part of town. I noticed the main street where I like to walk for shopping was basically a lake. It confirmed that taking a stroller out would have been a bad idea. We drove through a lot of large puddles on our way to the store and I noticed lots of people out and about. I remembered that today was the celebration of the ‘Mawlid’ (the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.) This isn’t a big holiday among Muslims, and isn’t one they are commanded to observe, but there have been special traditions and foods associated with this day in each of the countries we’ve lived in. I felt bad that the weather may have hindered some of the visiting or celebrations for some on this day, but did notice that some of the amusement rides that people put up for these holidays were still in use. We passed one section of town where there was a temporary carousel and two large swings for the kids to enjoy for the day. I am guessing that each child would have had to pay one or two guinea (18-36 cents) for a few minutes on the ride. The rain didn’t stop them from this fun.
I went out again the next day, and the big puddles had evaporated a bit. It was still very messy to walk from our house to the main street as the water combined with the dirt and grime of the street to make for a very messy path. But brave it we did and all in all, we didn’t get too wet. It looked like things would be close to normal by Sunday, in time for us to begin another work week and return to Emma’s preschool. It was weird to have so much rain in one day, and it affected our whole weekend. Hopefully it at least cleaned the air a bit and watered the land.