Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

Flashback Monday: A story about a pool on a balcony in Cairo

Here's a Flashback for you, a la Friday. This happened in 2010 while I was still writing Flashback Fridays, but I didn't tell the story at the time because a) it wasn't a flashback back then, and b) I did not have the heart to think about it.

We spent the summer of 2010 in Cairo. We lived on the sixth floor of an apartment building and off of our living room, there was a small patio. Our apartment had AC - really, really weak-sauce AC - only in the one bedroom, so when it got hot in Cairo, it got hot in our apartment. Green spaces are in short supply in Cairo, so our balcony was a nice outlet to the outdoors for those times when we couldn't go outside proper.

One week soon after we arrived there, the weather forecast showed a few days of 110F+ temperatures ahead. So I decided to buy a kiddie pool to put on the balcony. It was easier said than done. Once we set up the dang thing, we had to figure out how to put water in it. I think we bought a section of hose-like tubing to rig up to the kitchen sink, but in the end we filled the pool manually using buckets and bowls. It was such an exhausting process that when the pool was full, we mostly just left it set up on the balcony, instead of emptying it and changing the water every couple of days.

And wow, did we ever enjoy that pool. Sure, the water got a little dusty after a while, but that pool saved my sanity that summer. It kept the girls happy and cool during those sweltering afternoons, and staved off cabin fever until the cooler nighttime hours when we could go on walks outside.

Then. THEN. One night, not long before we left Cairo - in other words, after weeks and weeks of playing in that pool, and sitting in that pool, and not changing the water terribly often - maybe twice the whole summer? - I was sitting on the couch in the living room late at night. There must have been something on TV. I think it was that movie about conflict diamonds. Blood Diamond? Something like that. It's not important. I mean, conflict diamonds are important, but the fact that I was watching a movie about them was not.

Because I was sitting there on the couch, facing the balcony, and lights were on inside but not outside, so I couldn't see terribly well, but I thought I saw something moving on the balcony. I turned off the lights inside to get a better look and. And. On our balcony, in our pool, was the biggest, most disgusting street rat you have hopefully not had the misfortune of ever seeing. It was having itself a leisurely drink/soak/cool-down in our pool. Then, almost as if this little routine was something it had done many times before that night, that rat hopped out and continued on its way.

We never used the pool again. I've tried not to think about it since. The end.

Edited to add: Jeremy just told me he never knew about this until now, which tells you how much I tried to pretend it never happened.

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