Monday, January 23, 2012

A Felucca on the Nile

The lovely hike at the Wadi on Friday was hard to top, but we might have done it on Saturday.

We spent Saturday morning hanging around at the apartment.  Paul let me sleep in while the kids played and he did a little writing. After a relaxing morning we went down to road 9 at around 11am to run some errands, do some shopping, and then grab some lunch.

My older daughter bought this lovely scarf.   You can't really tell from the photo, but it has skulls on it.  So not only is it pretty, it is tough too.  Just her style.  My younger daughter bought herself a little camel figure made of sandalwood, and my husband bought me a wall hanging  (I will post a photo of once I have it hanging on the wall).   Everyone got a chance to practice their haggling skills.  I'm not sure if we got the best deals possible, but we all liked what we got and enjoyed the shopping.

After poking around in a few shops we had lunch at a wonderful place called the Dragon House.  It was a perfect choice for the Chinese New Year.  They serve Chinese, Thai, and Indian food. We went there our second day in town and enjoyed it so much that we thought it was worth another visit. We had a good meal and then we went home to grab a few things before catching a cab to the main event.

A felucca ride on the Nile...

What a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. We enjoyed the company of new friends while sipping beers, enjoying the scenery, and having a snack. A couple of people brought guitars so we played a little music and watched the world go by. I loved it! The boats are roomy and there is plenty of space to share the ride with a group... but the price is reasonable enough to consider just making it a romantic sunset ride for two. I can't wait to do it again.

If you look to either side of the boat you can even see the great pyramids in the distance... What a lovely view!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wadi Digla

After the crazy trip to the pyramids last weekend we decided to take it easy this weekend. On Friday we went to a place just outside of Cairo called the Wadi Digla.  It was the perfect place to escape the hectic sounds and sights of the city.  We did a little geocaching and hiked through the martian like landscape while listening to the many calls to prayer echoing out of loud speakers in nearby Cairo.  We followed it up with a trip for a bite to eat in town.  It was a wonderful day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A" Great" Discovery in Egypt...

This past weekend was my daughter's birthday.  We had only been in Cairo for a week and we wanted to do something special.  As I sat clinging to my children in the back of a taxi I wondered if this was really a good idea. I made sure I told them that I loved them. If this was going to be it I wanted to make sure that they knew that their mother cared.  I kissed them and held them I even whispered a prayer.  It might have been the lack of seat belts in the back of the cab, or possibly the breakneck speeds that we were reaching but I felt untethered from the earth.

 I watched the world passing by me out the window; colorful laundry adorning sand colored buildings, carts pulled by donkeys, sheep, people going about their daily business in this strange city, and cars, cars everywhere.  There were buildings as far as I could see into the dust.  Most of them in some state of construction or destruction... it was hard to tell.  This city is filthy, this city is gritty, it is something that you can't describe.  You can't even capture it on film.  It looks too cleaned up that way.  Without the sounds and the smells you just can't see it all.

 Then I saw them in the distance.  They were faint at first, barely visible through the smog and pollution, but still there larger than life.... looming.  I started to cry.  I was so excited that I couldn't contain the emotions.  This was something special.

The kids were pointing and shrieking "There they are!  Look mom!  It's the pyramids!!!"  They had seen them too.  We were almost there.

Our driver sped through the crowd of "tour guides" as they stepped in front of our taxi risking life and limb for a dime.   He dropped us off at the door and then over charged us with some excuse that the meter was broken.  But I didn't care.  I was at the great pyramids.  What could possibly go wrong?  Yes dear reader this is foreshadowing. The Great Pyramids are a sham.  But I am skipping ahead in my tale, because at this point I was still giddy with excitement.

We paid our entry fee, stepped inside, and it all went to hell.

People come at you from all sides wanting to give you a tour, sell you their wares, and take you for a ride (and not just on their camel)...  And they don't take no for an answer.  They touch you, grab you, and put things in your hand only to demand that you pay for them.  They don't let up for a moment.

The only time I felt at peace was when I was inside the pyramid of Khufu.  It was thrilling walking up the wooden ramps into the heart of the pyramid.  Once I stepped outside, however, the crush of desperation started all over again, the overwhelming smell of camel piss assaulted my nostrils, and I felt powerless once again.

Yeah we walked around, we took some pictures, and we saw the sights.  You can even see us smiling in some of the photos...  We were just as much part of the show as everything else.

Our taxi ride home was better.  Our second driver was great.  He spoke excellent English and gave us a wealth of wonderful information about the sights of Egypt.  He even stopped the cab so that he could take our picture in front of the Nile.  We got out of the car at Road 9 and paid the driver (a quarter the amount of the first ride).  We were walking towards the restaurant for a birthday lunch and trying to put a positive spin on a trying day when Paul realizes that we had been robbed.  The thieves at the pyramid hadn't just stolen our experience... they had our money as well.  Without enough money for lunch we turned for home.  I think next time I'll just watch the discovery channel.


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