I am a bit of a foodist and get rather moody when my cupboards and fridge are empty and I only have boring stuff to eat, so it was high time that Anna and I made a trip to Carrefour. Those of you who are used to holidaying in France will know that Carrefour is a hypermarket of French origin. The Carrefour in Alex is situated on the edge of the city, which is not that far out since Alex only stretches for 4 kilometres or so land inwards, and is hiding in a big shopping centre. Now I have to tell you that I don’t like malls. I don’t like shopping. I like having stuff, new stuff so internet shopping is the answer but I don’t think Carrefour Alex is that advanced in their customer service just yet. Anyway, in Carrefour affluent Alexandrians are doing their (window) shopping. In summer they will be joined by Cairenes, tourists from the countryside and people from the Gulf spending their oil money. They’ve got ‘funky’ shops like H&M, La Senza, Vero Moda, Bodyshop and New Look, most of these being very affordable in Europe. In Egypt they charge European prices so funky and cheap H&M in Egypt really ain’t that cheap . Friday is the day off in the Arab world and most people are back at work on Saturday so I thought it wouldn’t be too crowded on a Friday night. HOW WRONG I WAS! We’ve been at Carrefour during Ramadam when people are buying nice stuff for iftar (evening meal to break the fast during Ramadan) and it is busy then. This was worse. Far worse. In Europe you don’t see kids in a supermarket after the hour of 7. In Egypt the kids go to bed when the parents are going or when they drop from exhaustion. So even if it is 10 o’clock on a Saturday night and the kid might need go to school the next day, there will be loads of kids around for whom Carrefour is a playground.
You don’t go to Carrefour for only a pint of milk- not that they would have it, milk measured in pints- you do a decent shop. Imagine Tesco’s or Albert Heijn the day before Christmas. Multiply by five and add some misbehaving kids in the mix, and oh yeah, you’re hungry. Yes, outcome of this sum is madness and torture.
After finding your way out and exiting the building unto the –massive- car park ,taxi drivers fight over your bags to take you home for 4 times the normal price, ‘cause you ain’t looking Egyptian so you probably have too much money for the amount of brain cells. So you do a bit of bargaining with several taxi drivers . One for the money, two for the show, three to go home and fill your fridge.
What I also hate about going to Carrefour is that it takes the whole evening. We left at half 7 and returned at half 11. But I’m home and the fridge and cupboards are an ocean of foodist abundance so this fairy is more than satisfied.