Friday, November 14, 2008

Swimming under the stars

I have finally gotten my swim on in Cairo.

In my neighborhood, there is an American madrassa, Cairo American College, which is where the children of AUC faculty go to school. (It also serves the children of US diplomats and many other folks, including many non-Americans.) Because AUC pays tuition for so many kids to attend CAC, they are given “non-affiliate passes” which enables non-affiliates like me to access their rather impressive and very American grounds, the highlight of which is the swimming pool.

Getting to the pool required many steps. First I had to go to the ID office and get an ID bill. Next I had to go to the cashier to pay for the ID ($42 US I think). The cashier gave me a validated receipt, which I returned to the ID office to actually get the ID. It was slightly complicated, but I handled it.

Next stop was the swimming pool. I needed to do the same thing there: get a bill, pay the cashier, return to the swimming pool for the pool pass (a 10-visit punch card for $30 US). However, when I was on campus for the ID, the pool office was closed. The pool office is only open during open swim hours, which vary from day-to-day, but on weekdays are only in the evenings, usually 7:30 to 8:30. So the following day I had to go back to get my bill for the pool. But I couldn’t pay the bill until at least the next day because the cashier is only open until 3:30pm. And the trip to pay the bill could not be paired with a swim since the pool is only open in the evening. So after paying, I had to go back to the pool office the following day to get the pass.

Needless to say this all took some time to get set up, but it was all worth it. The pool is glorious. It is outside and big. While I am not typically an evening swimmer and the schedule is quite limited, there is something to be said for swimming under the stars in Cairo. It is a great feeling. The pool is heated and open all year round. The night air is cool here, already much cooler than I would have expected (and it will get even colder during the coming months). But the air and the water feel great.

It feels good to be back in the pool. And today it was extra good. As I was walking across the CAC campus to the pool around sunset (weekend swim hours are earlier), there were lots of kids playing soccer and, well, mostly playing soccer. As I was getting into the pool, I heard Dead Prez’s “Hip Hop” blasting from huge speakers across campus; there must have been some sort of student activity. You know that made me smile, and I thought, here at the American school, this is what I like about America.

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