Thursday, September 30, 2010

We're All Here


We had to go visit the Sakkara Country Club where they have been renovating their hotel rooms. The rooms were originally horse boxes but they have been seriously transformed a couple of times now. The new embodiment is pretty nice.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Got The World On A String


I was going to the first terminal of Cairo International today to pick up a friend arriving from Bahrain for a riding holiday. As we walked into the old terminal we spotted two young men suspended on ropes while they wiped down the front of the building. As far as I can imagine, that's a totally endless task with all our dust.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Walk-by Shooting (with camera)


Schools have started again in Egypt so when we were driving home from doing errands downtown we were blessed with after school traffic. The bright murals on this primary school and the flags flying gaily along the fence seem very inviting, but to be totally honest the inside is probably much less welcoming due to poor teacher training and salaries and overcrowded classrooms. A pedestrian walking down the road in the street is not an unusual sight. The roads are generally more smooth and even than the sidewalks, unfortunately. So you worry about being run over rather than falling and breaking a leg.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Bean Cart


One of my earliest memories of Egypt was the donkey-drawn cart that delivered foul (stewed fava beans) every morning. These are simmered gently in huge heavy pots overnight and then every housewife has her own secret seasonings for them. The donkeys are amazing. They learn the route in no time at all and stop automatically at the various homes that are customers.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When I Grow Up...


A few weeks ago some good friends of mine asked me to take on one of their horses because they'd been transferred out of the country and couldn't take him with them. Andalus is an 11 year old gelding who has won quite a few FEI endurance races here. I'd admired him from afar for years and was delighted to take him into our herd. Introducing a horse to a herd of horses is not done casually. He'd spent a few weeks in a separate paddock adjoining the two year olds and getting to know them over the fence. Today we put them together and the youngsters thought that Andalus was simply too cool. This is one of the two year olds peeking under his role model's neck over a mouthful of hay.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Empty Food Stalls


By the third day of the Feast, salad vegetables had gotten to be a bit scarce around the house, so we ventured in to the Maadi souq. This is pretty much what we found for the most part....empty stalls. Usually you'd have trouble pushing your way down the alley. We found some tomatoes and cucumbers and called it a day.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lights Above You

Growing up in North America, I thought of lights as strictly utilitarian. In Egypt, on the other hand, every light is a piece of decor. This brass chandelier in a garden is a lovely piece.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cat's Cradle


We decided to drive through Nazlit el Semman because Catherine had never seen it. It's a pretty horrifying place with all the stables and the horses who are worked way too young and way too hard. The suffering, pain and fear are so thick you can cut them with a knife. At the very end, just before we turned onto a main road, we spotted these two young men, one of them teaching the other to play cat's cradle, an ancient string game.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Washing Rugs


Bright rag rugs hang in the sun to dry. These are made of recycled fabrics by the villagers and the zebaleen. They wash beautifully and make great rugs or throws on sofas.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Redoing the Pillows


Many people in Egypt use cotton to fill their mattresses and pillows. Aside from the substantial weight of the filling, cotton eventually packs down necessitating the visit of the people who remove the stuffing, fluff it up and restuff the mattresses or pillows. Here the man is beating the pillow to settle the stuffing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Those Cairo Guard Cats


Two of Maadi's itinerant felines decided to take a break on the front steps of a shop on a quiet day.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Decisions, Decisions


Dressed in their holiday finery, children in Shubramant ponder the important question of what toys to buy with the money they've been given by their parents and grandparents for the Feast. For four days, everyone will relax, eat cookies, watch children play and enjoy themselves.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Guess The Crop


They look like a field of day lilies that haven't yet bloomed, but these are sesame plants with pods that are almost ready to harvest. All those hamburger buns and crackers all my life, and I had no idea this is what the sesame plant would look like.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lines


When they built this house they left the rebar sticking out of the wall for some reason. I have no idea why since they bothered to stucco the outside of the building as well. But the shadows of the bars echo the electric lines passing by.

Monday, September 6, 2010

From Red To Brown


Our dates are being harvested early this year and a neighbour sent us probably about 10 kg of lovely Zaghloul dates still on the branches. We picked them off, put them into bags and have filled an entire fridge with them. Right now most of them are a deep dark wine red, but even in the cold, they will gradually darken, soften, and ferment....becoming the dates that people outside of the Middle East are more accustomed to.

From Red To Brown


Our dates are being harvested early this year and a neighbour sent us probably about 10 kg of lovely Zaghloul dates still on the branches. We picked them off, put them into bags and have filled an entire fridge with them. Right now most of them are a deep dark wine red, but even in the cold, they will gradually darken, soften, and ferment....becoming the dates that people outside of the Middle East are more accustomed to.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Childhood Memories


A sunny day at the end of summer and a group of kids from one of the farming villages are playing in the dirt road in front of their houses. They are all wearing plastic sandals, not much different from those I remember kids wearing during the summers in California many, many years ago. Though mothers are keeping an ear out for the kids and checking on them, they have much less supervision than many children are used to these days. A few feet away another pair of children is pushing a baby in a wheelbarrow. I remember taking younger brothers and sisters for similar rides. Some things in childhood never change, I guess.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Green Wool


Driving into the Wissa Wassef compound we found one of the daughters supervising the dyeing of the wool used for weaving their famous tapestries. They use natural dyes from the plants grown on the premises.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Eye


Shooting down into a terracotta water pot I find myself reflected against the sky. These pots are placed by people alongside the roads so that someone passing by can have a drink of water. During Ramadan a little is left in the pot for emergencies, but the pot will be filled just before sunset.