It has taken days to get all the water, salt and mud out of the house, and the internal walls still have large wet areas as it is winter here and light does not get to the walls long enough to dry quickly.
At least my mattress and bedding are dry, and a few days worth of clothes, still washing the clothes I had hanging on the back of the bedroom door, my wardrobe, as they were soaked and have salt marks all over them.
Managed to dry out the books that got wet, but the salt crystals remain stuck to them and probably always will. Kitchen stuff was simple enough to wash, but I am still finding items I missed in the first round of cleanup, with a shimmering dusting of salt.
As I could not do everything at once, but had to do this over several days due to limited water to wash with and there being such a substantial pile of soaked blankets, sheets, towels and clothes, one set of sheets sitting at the bottom of the pile developed mould spots. I won’t risk any sort of infection by using them to sleep on in future, but washed them anyway with a dash of eucalyptus oil which treked from Australia with me, and while the spots remain they smell ok, so they will be kept for future use possibly as shade cloth in the yard in summer, where the sun and heat will soon bleech any nasties out of them.
Having worked in an archive for the past 10 years, where we were always aware of the need for a Disaster Plan and Disaster Bin, an actual bin containing things to mop up with and repair damage in case of flood, fire or other mishaps, it is ironic that I had no Disaster Plan or Bin set up here. I will be doing this in the next week, as I now hear drops of rain with some dread – will it get heavier? will I be flooded out of the house again?
From this experience, some essentials I have learnt to include in the Disaster Bin: torch, candles, matches (bad wiring here meant two lights blew out, one shattering glass over me, luckily no injury), a change of clothing, including a warm jumper, a blanket, hot water bottle, dry cat food in case I can’t get out to the butcher for Habibi’s meat, and dry or tinned food for me in case I can’t get out, phone and internet recharge cards, chocolate for energy to clean up after and for comfort when assessing the damage, large plastic bags to cover as much of my books and clothes as I can before the water really starts pouring in. All this needs to be in large plastic bags and then in a large plastic box – while I usually try to keep my use of plastic down, this is going to be the only way to avoid a repeat cleanup and possible ruin of my books in future. And I will certainly not leave Siwa for more than a day without putting the computer, hard drive and USBs, passport and any essential documents into that box, just in case.
Recovery aside, it has been an incredibly exciting time here. There is no point me running through all the developments as they are so well documented on websites and blogs, more of which I will post here over time, but I can’t being to express what it has been like to be here during such an historic time for Egypt. As someone who researches and writes about history, it has been fascinating to actually be within what has already become known as a major turning point in Egypt’s history.
As many of my freinds here are younger than me by 15 to 20 years, they are the generation that have initiated the change and are determined to continue to have a strong influence on Egypt’s future. I feel so proud of them all, those in the demonstrations in Cairo and Alexandria, and those in Siwa who have also shared in the excitement, even from a distance, through television, internet, especially facebook, and phone calls to family and friends in the cities.
Due to cleanup and these events, including the internet blackout, I have not been getting much work done, so have to get back into it again tomorrow, now my home at least is livable, even if still damp.
Habibi has coped well, and has become braver and braver. I have to keep an eye on her as yesterday I had the fly screen part of the window open, which meant only the decorative metal security grill was between her and the world. I turned away for two minutes and returned to find she had jumped on the desk and was outside the security grill, on the window sill, with a drop of several feet and then the freedom of the palm gardens – she could have disappeared before I knew it. I wooed her back in, but she looked delighted to have discovered this out. She has also had two cat visitors from nearby houses, and seems to have decided she likes being in a one cat household as she yeowlled at each of them, and they ran off. Again though it means I have to be alert, I like to leave the back door open for her to have some time in the yard, but don’t want her getting into a fight with another cat. The vet here is more used to treating donkeys and sheep than domestic pets.
Meanwhile out at Cleopatra Spring, T sort of adopted a grey tabby kitten he has named Luna. She has gone from starved and scraggy and scared, spitting at anyone who approached her, to a cat who wants to be with us all the time, snuggling on one or the other’s lap, being fed bits of whatever we eat, and curling up in T’s bed or clothes to sleep, or sunning herself on the cafe chairs. When he leaves Siwa, which he will do soon as tourist season is now over thanks to the revolution, I will still make my daily walk there and ensure she gets some love and food. I would love to have her also in my place, but Habibi would not stand for it, and one is more than enough responsibility for me anyway.
Thanks again to everyone who sent emails and text messages of support during my illness, then during the political impacts and then the flood. I know many Australians are experiencing the flood part with me, though not the euphoria that the revolution here has given us.