Still in Egypt

We’re still here. That’s not really news, but it will be news for some of you that we will continue to still be in Egypt for one more year. Seriously, Bethany’s blog about Greece was way more fun, but I suppose it’s only fair that I have to write this one. I’m afraid this isn’t going to be one of those cool, picture-y blogs that you’re used to, but for the few of you who like to keep up with what’s happening in our lives, it might be worth a read.

In short, we’ll be here for one more year because we were unable to find Bethany a good job outside of Egypt. We looked, believe me, but almost entirely unsuccessfully. Okay, there, now you can go back to whatever you were doing before if you’d like. Or you can read the significantly longer explanation below:

We’re not entirely sure what the problem was, but we have a couple theories. Mine is that having a non-teaching spouse makes her undesirable, so principals just overlook her. That one makes sense to me. The more likely explanation, though, is that she’s taught at three different schools over the course of three years. Obviously, that’s not going to look good to a principal looking for someone willing to stick around for longer than required.

Then there’s the issue of having broken her contract at her previous school. It wasn’t an easy decision for her to make, and she had many compelling reasons to do so (which have become even more reasonable since then, as the “school” has lost its ministry approval and accreditation, as well as most of its teachers). I believe she already wrote a post about that, so I won’t rehash the entire thing, but in summary: the school was locked down last summer, owners hadn’t filed paperwork with the ministry, there was a chance the school would never reopen, so she found a new job. Her explanation (slightly more long-winded than that, because I wrote it…) seemed satisfactory to the one school that asked, but I’m certain it played a role in their – and possibly everyone’s – decision to hire someone else.

She did receive one job offer, though, from an American school in Tampico, Mexico. We waited for the contract to see if the offer would be good enough to convince us to leave, but we were slightly disappointed. The salary wasn’t any better than here, there was no moving allowance. (Almost all schools include in the contract, at least, a flight to the school at the beginning, a flight home at the end, and shipping and settling-in allowances. This principal seemed to have no idea that this was a thing, and was surprised when Bethany asked.) As you can probably imagine, moving to the other side of the world is expensive, and without those things, it becomes impossible. It’s a shame; the school actually seemed fairly nice, as did the people she talked to, but the city also had a long history of serious gang violence. So, we decided that it wasn’t worth packing up all our stuff and relocating to a place that really seemed too similar to Egypt anyway.

It isn’t all bad, though. I knew this scenario was likely long before Bethany did (she didn’t want to accept that we would have to stay), so I made a concerted effort to find things to appreciate. To be honest, it was hard. There’s not a lot, and it’s still easy to get pissed off by little things, but we’re working at it. The food is okay, the people are nice, and our apartment is pretty good. We have our cats and a few friends, and an orchestra every now and then. The main thing is that, generally, we’re comfortable here. We know where to find things we need, how to get places we want to go, how to shop and eat and entertain ourselves.  We’ve come a long way in the last two years toward figuring out how this place works. Of course, we never really will, but it gets slightly easier as time passes. It gives us a chance to learn a little more Arabic, something we’ve been absolutely pathetic at so far.

The other upside is probably more important: it gives Bethany a chance to solve the problem we suspect kept her from finding a new job, by staying at her school for a second year. And that’s completely okay because she likes her school fairly well, and her principal isn’t the absolute worst person you could ever imagine meeting in the entire world (she’s actually a fairly nice British lady.)

So what happens next year? Probably a lot of the same. We have no plans to go home this summer (sorry!), but we do hope to go to Sharm el Sheikh sometime during the break if we can manage not to kill each other before then. We’re also planning one trip to Europe for Christmas (possibly Amsterdam, but we’re still looking around). Hopefully, my mom and her husband will be willing to join us when the time comes. Otherwise, it will be a fairly travel-light year as we save and prepare to move in 2018.

We will have at least two visitors here in Egypt next year, which is exciting news! They bought tickets today, and haven’t announced it yet so I won’t out them, but let’s just give them a round of applause for taking the first leap. I’m sure it will be an enjoyable and memorable experience for them! (Seriously, I know how it may seem from the outside, but the hit Egypt’s tourism industry has taken in the last few years has been undeserved. So to the rest of you, we would happily offer up our spare room to anyone who wants to come visit us, and then we’d probably even pay for all your food while you’re here. Check out flights; I bet they’re not as bad as you think!)

There will also, once again, be a lot of job-searching next year, starting as soon as I can convince Bethany it’s time. I’ll probably be doing the bulk of the searching again, but this time, we’re going to spring for an agency to help us find something good. Nothing next year will be as important as this. Staying in Egypt for a fourth year is not an option, so there better be something. I’m confident there will be.

Until then, you’ll find us here, still in Egypt.

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