Watching paint dry and watching people at work in Egypt – sometimes not much difference between the two for the watcher.  Depending on how I choose to look at it and if there are other tasks awaiting my attention determines whether I am relaxed or frustrated.


MEN AT WORK across the road from Mara House at the moment……they are digging the foundations for a building which might take from 1 year to 20 years to complete.

This house has been on the go since before 2003, which is when I started building Mara House.

I’m taking a relaxed view of the new construction work across the road  (since it’s not my building ha! ha! ha!).  It is a curiosity for my guests.

Building work here in Egypt is done mostly by hand from foundation to carrying the blocks, cement and sand to each floor for building the walls, plastering, tiling etc.  These are amazing men.  They work from around 5 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon and have incredible body strength…..who needs a gym?  Just go to Egypt and work on a building site for 6 months!

Some work I am not quite so relaxed about (but getting there with the help of Stella & Mr. Baileys!) is the service and repairs on some of my air-condition units.  This has been ongoing for 3 weeks now.  Taking the units back to the shop where I bought them (on a donkey & cart) and having the owner maintain that the hot air coming out of the unit is “good, good Madame – working perfect! Perfect!”  sitting it out until eventually he agrees to contact Cairo about it ) unit only 3 months old).

Having an “engineer” tell me it is quite normal for another unit to cycle only from 30celsius to 35 celsius….meaning it cuts in at 35 and cuts off at 30!  Of course he works for the shop where I bought it so that man is expecting me back any minute not to buy a new air condition unit! (over my dead body is he making any more money from me!).  So I waited 7 days for a thermostat to arrive from Cairo….only to discover that it was never ordered…….

For 3 weeks I have been waiting on an electrician to come and help with the switch on a transformer (for a big air-con unit) which keeps tripping (holding it up in the meantime with a piece of wood).  My brother, former electrician would be on the next plane from Ireland if knew this……but it’s ok,  we are on another planet…..planet ZOG I think….in an alternate dimension… we are quite safe….?

Well he arrived. (the long awaited electrician)…with another one in tow….looked at the transformer…….hmmmm d and hhhhhh d for about 5 minutes, opened it up and guess what he discovered……..3 switches inside all connected to one another……………he didn’t know why and I certainly didn’t know why….so off to the workshop – actually I have discovered they went to 5 workshops (on the trusted donkey and cart) before they found one who apparently understands that these 3 switches should not be there at all (work of the electrician who previously installed it with the air-con unit) and has decided they should be replaced by just one switch)  This work will take him 3 hours (but realistically I don’t expect it back for a few days!).

That’s another thing – I wish they would just tell me they are not coming when they have no intention of coming.  I wish they would tell me it will take a year or two years to complete something instead of “tomorrow insh ‘Allah”.  It’s the waiting that’s the killer!

I sooooooooooo wish for a “Golden Pages Directory” where I could just call up the tradesman I want!

So…..the difference for me is…’s relaxing to watch others work even if the pace is slow as long as they are working for someone else!……..I need a couple of drinks and a tranquilizer while waiting for IMPORTANT people like electricians, plumbers and government officials !!!!  But then….is it any different where you are?

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