Friday, June 29, 2012

Feather Dusters

Palms are a member of the grass family and not real trees as such. Whatever they are they have so many wonderful aspects: entirely edible, producing wonderful food, and easy to grow. They also can look like a tidal pool of grey-green sea creatures from a hilltop or a plantation of enormous feather dusters.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A First

At about 3:45 pm today at the height of the usual rush hour virtually everyone in Egypt was somewhere sitting in front of a television set waiting to hear the announcement of the first (hopefully) democratically elected president in its history. The choice was a tough one for many people here, between an ex-cabinet minister from the Mubarak regime who was also a member of the military and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Surprisingly the unofficial vote count showed a clear win for Mohamed Morsi of the MB, and many people expected the military to push through a win for the ex-regime member, Ahmed Shafik, when the announcement of who won was postponed by 5 days. So the tension in Egypt was enormous. This shot of the roads going into the city from Giza was taken during the press conference announcing the winner. Empty roads like this are nothing short of miraculous.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Buyer Beware

Translations can be a bit sketchy here. I'm not sure that I'd want to buy jeans here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Opening Soon

Yes, that is what someone stenciled on the wall of the burned out NDP headquarters that housed Mubarak's old political machine. It burned during the last days of January 2011 and many Egyptians hoped that it was gone forever. I don't know who took this photo. I found it on Twitter and no, it is not photoshopped. As Egypt waits for the military to announce who won the second round of presidential elections, the distinct possibility that Mubarak's prime minister will be declared winner regardless of the vote.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Unexplained

Anyone following Egyptian current events knows that we have more than our share of odd events. This is a peculiar rock placement near Sakkara. The large stones are parts of some antiquities that have been excavated by the Japanese at Lion Hill and are probably part of a temple or something. What the smaller stones that have been placed on top of the limestone blocks are is anyone's guess.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Election Day

Egyptians are voting in the first day of the runoff elections today in fierce sun heat. This line in Mataria, a section of Cairo, stands close to the wall for what little shade it offers. They are choosing between Ahmed Shafik and Mohamed Morsi. Who will be declared the winner is anyone's guess at this point.

Photo by Tamer el Gobashy

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Fence

Today the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that one of the candidates for president, Ahmed Shafiq, who was Mubarak's prime minister, could not be barred from running for office. It also ruled that because there were campaign irregularities in the cases of one third of the seats in the lower house of Parliament, Parliament in its entirety would be dissolved. The military council, that yesterday granted itself the right to arrest anyone for pretty much any reason, announced that it is now the official legislative body and that it will announce the membership of the 100 member council that is to form a new constitution tomorrow.

This photograph was taken by CNN's correspondent as people awaited the court's decision on the Corniche near Maadi.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Egyptian Driving Clue

A friend of mine once waved a hand at a chaotic flow of cars down the streets of Cairo and blamed it all on donkeys. I was puzzled as there were no donkeys present. No, she explained, it isn't the donkeys who are here but the donkeys that the drivers' grandfathers used to drive who are to blame. Donkeys are smart, they learn where to go, and they take care of themselves and their carts with out input from the driver. When Egyptians get behind the wheel of a car, they act as though the car were as smart as the donkey...but it isn't. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Jewel in the Orchards

This is such an extraordinary villa set out in the midst of palm and mango orchards. I don't know who owns it and have only seen an older woman out in the garden as I've ridden by on horseback. The colours and the tile work are gorgeous. One of our hidden treasures.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Smiles For The Camera

I never ride without a camera and in this case I was riding with a friend who also had one. Some of the village boys were climbing up into a huge mulberry tree to get the last of the spring fruit with the aid of a highly dubious stack of bricks. I got a shot of them, which was nice, and my friend Kelly got this one of me showing the boys their picture on my camera, which was much better.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Silent Vigil

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the death of Khaled Said, a young man in Alexandria who was beaten to death by the police in that city. A lot of people have tried to analyse why his death so shook the people of Egypt and I suspect that much of it had to do with the fact that he was very largely and Egyptian Everyman, someone who in various ways was much like many other young people here. After his death in 2010 protests were organised in which people wearing black or dark colours would simply stand about four or five metres apart and they wouldn't speak to each other or to passers by. The spacing was important because in 2010 protests were illegal and broken up, but if each person was not in contact with his/her neighbour, it couldn't be called a "group". Yesterday along the bridges of Cairo and the corniches that run beside the river and the sea, people gathered again in the same way to mark the anniversary of his death.

The photo is thanks to Zeinobia, who talks about the events of the day in her blog.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Traveling With a Spare

Automobile drivers carry a spare tire, but they never think about what a cart driver needs. Many of them will buy a new horse when it is still young and let the older horse train the youngster.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Back In The Saddle

I've had a long break from the blog and my apologies. I decided to take my annual visit to my children in the US early this year in order to be back in Egypt before the elections and the verdict on Mubarak. I was concerned that if there was going to be problems here and I would be in the US, my staff would have a hard time. So I traveled in May rather than June and arrived back the day before the first round of elections. They  were a huge surprise to everyone, so being totally jetlagged actually made it a bit easier to  absorb. Then came the verdict on Mubarak which wasn't completely unexpected since no one had any illusions that it was a real trial. For three nights now, Tahrir has had people protesting in it. The elections abroad are currently taking place and the initial estimates show that the turnout is much higher than expected based on the first round figures. The elections in Egypt will be on the 16th. Everything is unsure, the population is very divided on who to vote for...especially since neither of the two choices is wildly popular. I make sure that I go out every day for a ride in the countryside to remind myself of the certainties of life, of planting, weeding, harvesting. Everyone needs to touch ground every so often to remain connected to the realities of life.