Danielle Capalbo’s Blog

Takeoff and landing

Posted in Encounters by Quiet Giant on May 3, 2009

You know that sequence in “The Graduate” when Ben’s post-collegiate life starts to lose shape,* and he’s gliding listlessly from one day to the next, as if they were literally arranged like a shotgun apartment? He rolls out of bed with Mrs. Robinson and reaches for the doorknob. The hotel room opens straight into his bedroom. And when he dives into bed, he’s actually diving into his family’s pool, surfacing only to float along some more – this time, on an inflatable lounge chair. Every day and every moment merge seamlessly. There’s no governing sense of time or place. There’s no hint of what’s on the horizon.

That’s sort of what flying to Egypt was like. Except:

– more emergency instructions delivered in German, courtesy airline wunderkind Lufthansa
– snacks around every corner
– no one came anywhere close to catching a ray of sunlight outside the plane, let alone nurturing a pristine, golden tan like Dustin Hoffman’s circa 1976

Instead, we looked like this at various stages of the trip:

Katie on the first leg of the trip, from Boston to Frankfurt, Germany.

Katie on the first leg of the trip, from Boston to Frankfurt, Germany.

Nick celebrates after seven hours stuffed in business class.

Nick celebrates after seven hours stuffed in business class.

Honor, Christina and Sean smiling en route to repeat security again, this time at Frankfurt Airport City.

Honor, Christina and Sean smiling en route to repeat security again, this time at Frankfurt Airport City.

Asha poses somewhere in the middle of Frankfurt's enormous airport.

Asha poses somewhere in the middle of Frankfurt's enormous airport.

Geoff, Lila and Carlene prepare for the second round of security checks in one day.

Geoff, Lila and Carlene prepare for the second round of security checks in one day.

Edwin and Caitlin keep busy during our extended layover.

Edwin and Caitlin keep busy during our extended layover.

We made it to Cairo!

We made it to Cairo!

Clarice is also happy we made it!

Clarice is also happy we made it!

James, too!

James, too!

Jared and Ian, after about 20 hours of traveling. But at least we're on the ground.

Jared and Ian, after about 20 hours of traveling. But at least we're on the ground.

Basically, I couldn’t tell you where yesterday stopped and today began. But I could try.

To spare the mundane details:  We left Boston around 5 p.m. on an enormous double-decker plane. Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, we switched time zones, which transformed our evening into early morning. That means we landed at the labyrinthine Frankfurt airport around 5 a.m. Back home, and by our biological clocks, it was 11 p.m. After a 4.5-hour layover, we boarded an airbus to Cairo – and switched time zones again. This time, we went forward an hour. We landed here a little after 4 p.m., received impromptu medical inspections from security guards wearing surgical masks, bought our visas and rode a coach bus through the suburb Heliopolis, which literally means “New Egypt.” We finally arrived around 6 p.m. at our cozy hotel, located at the heart of Zamalek, a relatively swanky, tourist-laden district on Gezira Island.

We’re only a couple of blocks from the Nile.

Right now, it’s a little after midnight in Cairo, but the city’s still awake. From the near-constant cacophony of car horns to methodical calls to prayer, Egypt’s capital feels like a sensory overload right now. Or maybe I’m just exhausted? Probably a little of both.

PS:  This is what our room looks like:

Zz, zz, zz. (Sometimes.)

Zz, zz, zz. (Sometimes.)

*Though he does get really into sunbathing.

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  1. […] I’ve mentioned in two posts already, our hotel sits on a swanky, Nile-flanked island called Zakamel. Tonight, I took some […]


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