Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 2

Quick running Diary of Day 2. The Sports Guy always includes timestamps, but it is really late here and I have to go see the pyramids tomorrow, so I will just go through the highlights. I am trying my best to be tired, but my body is still thinking it is around 7:00pm when it is really pushing 2am. My roommate is downstairs playing cards, so I figured I would contact planet United States

Last night we took a boat ride down the Nile. It was spectacular. Our professor host bought some local light beer for us and we cruised in 70 degree weather down the longest river in the world....I was high on adrenaline. It was hard to put into words. Also, all the boat trips here compete with the lights on the boat. Ours was lit up in tune with the music, so I am pretty sure we won. Videos/Pictures of that to come. I got some great pictures of the trip, unfortunately, I am not in any of them. I found out why I have always let others take the pictures. We then walked around downtown for a bit and checked out what people do at night. It was great, lots of great little restaurants. Coke signs EVERYWHERE

The day started at 9:00 this morning with breakfast. I ate what is called "beef bacon." I can only imagine that means it is bacon made out of beef and not some weird hybrid of a cow and a pig. This also makes sense given that they killed all their pigs under the idea that swine flu comes from pigs....oh well, it was actually pretty tasty. the only other thing i ate for breakfast was about 900 strawberries. I know, I am a huge wuss, but strawberries are amazing, even in Egypt and beef bacon seemed like enough of a trial for 9am. I sported the tan suit for the first time today, and I must say, I am loving it. Nice call Matthew A. Adkins.

We then boarded up the bus for a super long day. We had four companies to visit and lots of traffic to fight. I know that if you have been overseas before you kinda know what I am talking about, but watching the traffic completely fascinates me. I have never met a group of people that have a better understanding for EXACTLY where their car begins and ends than the Egyptians. They go full speed through holes in which they have about 4 inches on each side. Including holes in front of our bus which would crumple their small cars. This goes for people on scooters as well.....if a bus hits you in a scooter you die....even in Egypt. We also saw a husband and wife on a scooter with their newborn baby sandwiched in the middle. (totally passed out) Awesome. I thought about getting a picture, but on a tour bus when everybody is snapping photos, it looks ridiculous. Plus, I have taken about 800 since I got here. Oh, and crossing the street is amazing. A real live Frogger game. Cars don't stop, they don't slow down, and nobody here cares, they just risk it. It is great.

First stop was Mobinil. This is Egypt's largest mobile service provider. They have about 21M subscribers. About a 10B pounds ($2B) a year company. The lady giving the presentation was spectacular and answered all of our questions with ease. I took the time last night to learn about 10 words in arabic and they came in handy for sure. All the people smiled and said i was doing well. I think "doing well" in arabic might mean "being ignorant." Research to be done there. When I broke down the math on the average revenue per customer, it is like $100. In a country where the average person makes $625, that is kinda crazy.

Second, we went to the ESE. Egyptian Stock Exchange. Nothing like the NYSE. It is just 10 guys in cubicles hanging out. Volume is very low and there are only about 300 stocks traded on it, but it was a really neat building. I attached a picture below of me riding in the one person elevator they had. We then visited two other companies, the second of which was HSBC. Good talks, nothing too exciting. The hosts at each talk were so nice to use. It was awesome. They love chatting about their country, and it really is a great way to get an insider's perspective on fun things to do and cultural aspects. Our tour guide for the week is great too. His name is Essam, and he loves helping us out with questions about the culture.

After we were done with our visits, we went to a super nice restaurant where you could see the pyramids on the patio. It was very authentic Egyptian from what we were told and the entertainment suggested that. There was a 10 person live band with different live acts during dinner. A belly dancer came out for two ten minutes performances. In between her was a juggler and some guy that spun at about 100 rpms for 15 minutes straight while in a large dress that......well I cant explain it, but I have a video. He was a huge hit. I had an amazing steak for dinner with some kind of sweet dessert that was really good. Appetizer was liver.....I tried it, turns out liver tastes like it sounds.

We finished up the evening with a nice hour long ride home where everybody slept but me and the professor host. It was nice chatting with him. It is clear that I am the touristiest person in our group, but I can't help wanting to soak up every piece of the next two weeks. I refuse to sleep when experiences could be had. Even just riding in the bus you get to see things that are once in a lifetime. I will catch up on sleep in Boston. Anyways, the trip is going spectacularly! Read what you have time for in this blog, but I figured I would get it all down while it is fresh. I know most of you reading this blog "work" for 40 hours a week and actually work for about 20, so cutout one Sports Guy column and read what I got to say. In the mean time, I will hold down the fort here in Africa.

P.S. - Seeing animals here is sad. The horses that do the carriage rides are all completely emaciated. Also, there is a lab that sniffs cars here as they come in. She looks exactly like Maggie so I went up to pet her. She is way too skinny and her hair is all matted, but she loves new people much like Maggie. They profile like crazy here. I have yet to walk through a metal detector that I haven't set off, but they dont even care. I guess they figure American MBAs are harmless.....just odd when you walk through a metal detector, set it off, and just keep walking, but that is what I have started to do. This country is so beautiful and the people are so nice. It is everything I expected times 5, and I can't wait to see the sites for the next two days. Turkey seems so far away, but that is gonna be amazing too.

Drew, Out

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