...Is our old neighborhood here in Cairo/Egypt. The whole neighborhood is over a giant piece of rock. This neighborhood five years ago was dubbed-- by my husband and his friends: Middle Earth. Because five years ago this was exactly what parts of Mokattam looked like... dark, bare, rocky and completely alien... We've come a long way. Tall buildings stand where once giant ditches laid. Paved roads cross through giant pieces of rocks. The city has crept in. (or rather up!)
Yet still we suffer from massive storms of dust, and right now they just started the yearly burning of the rice straws in the fields-- resulting in massive smog clouds traveling from the northern sea (the Mediterranean) upstream (which is confusingly south, a unique feature for the Nile river) where the old city lays. Rice smog is added to the already existing pollutants and everything is trapped between mountains and beneath cool air.
So far our whole family has been suffering from sore throats, coughing attacks and my youngest is on sever medications for her asthma condition. Egyptian buildings are not built to prevent dust or heat penetration. So when dust storms attack outside, there is no refuge. If it's hot outside, it's boiling inside. And in winters the weather is as cold inside as it is outside. It doesn't get to freezing temperatures here, but when it's in the fifties all the time, your bones start to complain, and smiles become a rare commodity.
There are of course solutions to conquer construction defects, but they come at a high cost and a long process of dealing with Egyptian workers, of whom their reputation of unreliability has proceeded them time and again.
The simplest solution for the time being are double layered super thick curtains. That we plan on armoring ourselves with as soon as this coming long eid Vacation is over (Eid Mubarak Everyone!)
Complaints aside, I must say, I truly love our new home. There's still alot to be done, but we are now proud owners of (finally) a working natural gas stove, a refrigerator and one bathroom has a water heater.