My internal clock is still not connected with GMT +2 time. Egypt. I still live on CST in the USA. It's been over 4 years, and I just can't get that connection.
I am still awake at dawn, which would have been 11 PM CST.
As the daylight brightens at my window, I hear jingle bells down on the street. It makes me think of Christmas time. The sound is coming from a farmer driving his horse/donkey which pulls a wooden wagon along, laden with freshly harvested produce. Cabbages the size of washtubs, wooden baskets of tomatoes, onions, green, red, and yellow peppers. Bundles of parsley.
The horse has a good owner. He's kind to it and let's it set the pace. I know where they are going. Around the corner and down three blocks to my favorite produce man.
I believe I am the only person he allows to buy not by kilo but by need. I'm the American that shops with him. It's a special affair for him. He always greets me with a brilliant smile, calls me by name. He knows a few english words, and I have mastered the language of gestures so we can communicate.
Once I asked for the top circling row of bananas on a long stalk hanging from the ceiling. They were the greenest and I knew they would last longer than the ripest ones. He looked at me, rolled his eyes, pretending frustration, and proceeded to move a step ladder into place. He was amused with me for my request, and also happy to give me what I asked for.
Whenever I see a particular vegetable or fruit and begin to look through them, if he has a newer, fresher supply, he will lead me to them.
How he manages to make any money from me is another wonder to me. With 6 carrots, 8 baking potatoes, lettuce, 3 tomatoes, long green onions, celery, 10 limes, and a dozen various fruits, I leave after paying a mere $3.00 USD.
The bag gets heavier as I walk toward home. I shift the bag from hand to hand. There are, by now, so many people walking on the sides of the roads, but my way seems to open up to me. It's obvious I am a foreigner. I look nothing like the locals here. At times, a clutch of girls will first stare and then quickly smile at me as I pass them. Most of the groups of men take a glance, and turn back to their conversations. Most of these young people are from the university at the end of my street only two buildings away from my home.
As I turn back into my street, on the opposite side is a female fruit seller. She sees my bulging shopping bag yet gives me a warm smile and tells me Peace Be Upon You. I didn't buy from her today.
Once in my kitchen, I begin to put my purchases in the refrigerator. By the time I am done, there is no more room available. What will I do with the two kilos of fresh strawberries my husband is bringing home with him tonight?
I will rest now out on my third floor balcony, sipping iced tea, watching the shop owners pushing up the metal doors protecting their shops through the night. They mop the floors, sweep the sidewalk in front of them, and gather up any litter. Displays are set up once again out front.
Once in a while, an owner standing in the doorway or sitting in a comfortable chair on the sidewalk, will glance up to me, give a nod. This small gesture makes me feel welcome and accepted. They've been doing this for 4 years now.
To complete my morning, I wait for the elderly woman across the street, same level from the ground as my home, come out onto her balcony. She will glance up and down the street, then look over at me, put her hand over her heart, then smile and point to me. I will do the same daily greeting to her. That is our language. It's clear, simple, and especially appreciated by both of us.