During our former residence in Egypt, Brandon and I came as students. We had to find our own apartment, pay rent, survive with minimal (if any) air conditioning, walk everywhere to save money, and shop on the ‘local market,’ as the expats call it. We had to live like everyone else.
Not so this time. The air conditioning is plentiful, rent is a distant memory, taxis are plentiful, and we have access to The Commissary. I had heard about The Commissary on our previous visit but, as we were not part of the Embassy community of the Army, we had no access.
Yesterday I visited the exalted grounds for the first time. One of the ward members offered to take me, so yesterday morning I hauled Sophia, Sophia’s car seat, and Kathleen’s car seat down three flights of stairs while Kathleen trailed behind. After buckling the girls with their seats in, we weaved and threaded our way through the light Maadi traffic. Having forgotten about Cairo driving laws, I was surprised the first few times we got passed on the left on a road narrower than the one we lived on in Viginia that already had cars driving the opposite way. Despite the nonexistent traffic laws, however, we arrived at the Commissary, another walled compound, this time in the desert, a block away from a mosque and a large heap of sand.
We waited for a 5-inch thick steel door to slide away so we could drive into a barred metal enclosure with another gate to exit from. While showing ID and assuring the guards that we were indeed allowed to enter, the car was swept and inside of the hood checked for whatever wasn’t supposed to go inside the walls.
All of this procedure, however, was necessary as the sign over the entry proclaimed “Cairo Commissary: Where all of your dreams come true.”
And if one’s dreams consist of bacon, Lucky Charms, Kraft macaroni and cheese, Pantene shampoo, and Thomas’s English muffins (frozen, of course), the Cairo Commissary is indeed where dreams do come true. The girls and I leisurely strolled the aisles as we filled our cart with baking powder, brown sugar, 409, Quaker oatmeal, and the aforementioned Lucky Charms. When the total was rung up, we were offered the option of paying in dollars or with credit card.
The dreams coming true, however, only extended to the Commissary itself, not getting the groceries back to one’s domicile. After another exciting ride back through Maadi (5 minutes into which Kathleen pointed out that she wasn’t buckled up), we made it through a street with inches to spare on either side of our car to the parking lot inside my own walled compound (which necessitated another sweep and hood-check).
From the parking lot the groceries were carried to the elevator, and my friend waited with the girls in the car while I schlepped two loads of groceries from the elevator to my door and then went back down for the girls and the car seats. By this time the bemused worker mopping the outside floors (and yes that is absolutely necessary) had offered to help and carried the car seats the last 50 yards to our door. And after all of that excitement, everyone took a nap.