Well, it took 8 hours and a lot of standing around and waiting, but we have officially renewed our 6 month visas. We showed up at 8am on the dot at the mogamma (arriving before half the employees), bought our stamps, and filled out our forms. When we tried to turn everything in, we found we needed no less than six photocopies each of various passport pages (didn't need that last time!) so we joined the queue downstairs to get those. Our applications complete, we were told our passports would be ready in two hours. Yeah right.
Yet, hope springs eternal and we were back in two hours exactly (just in case...). We proceeded to wait in the crowd for another hour and a half before our passports appeared in the pile behind the pick-up window. Then we immediately turned them in again to get our multi-entry visa, which allows us to leave the country and come back while maintaining our six month residence visa. They said we could pick em up at 3:00, and they were actually right. How lovely. =) We should now be finished with mogamma for the remainder of our time in Cairo. Even lovelier! =)
How different this six-month point is from my six month mark in Rwanda! My Arabic is still pretty sparse, I don't have many Egyptian friends, and what I've learned of the culture I've learned more from observing than participating. I haven't been immersed. This is what it's like to live next to a culture without necessarily being part of it (to borrow a phrase from Dylan). Sometimes I feel guilty that I haven't made more effort to immerse myself. Should I have taken the job with the garbage city school where I would have been the only foreigner and had to speak only Arabic?
For better or worse, I chose the more comfortable life for this year. I'm mostly working, living, and worshipping with other foreigners, many of whom are American. Don't get me wrong, this is still so much LESS comfortable than life in the Chicago suburbs! But oh so much easier than a village in Rwanda...