On our last ride from Dahshur we took a route that ordinarily would take us past two lovely limestone sarcophagi near the railway track that runs between Cairo and Fayoum. This time, however, we found two broken sarcophagi. Someone came and smashed them for no apparent reason.
For years I've noticed a group of people who would appear here in our area with herds of cattle and unusual patterns of dressing. They often split up into small groups of cattle who graze on the stubble of the corn fields and they told me that they were from Zagazig in Sharkeya province. On our ride to Dahshur we came upon this camp under the palms near the lakebed. Our hostess for lunch told me that these were the cattle people, a group of Bedouin who travel throughout Egypt in a huge loop and have a base of sorts near Zagazig. The army apparently rents the lakebed to a man who has been harvesting the reeds from it until the last couple of years when the lake wasn't filled. This year he rented the lakebed as grazing land for a few weeks to the Bedouin.
We were riding through the village of Sakkara and as we passed this garden, I noticed that the woman here was making a palm fiber rope. We've used this rope for construction around the farm because it is incredibly strong and doesn't degrade from the sunlight. It is spun from the brown fiber that they take off the palm trees when they are trimming the fronds from them. This is the same rope that was used to build the solar boat that is on display at Giza.
I'd bet anything that most people can't identify that machine. It's a cotton fluffer for pillows and mattresses. The traditional mattresses are filled with cotton and every few years the fluffer man comes around to re-fluff the mattresses.
We went to Giza and were delighted to have to dodge many, many tourist buses. As it was the last day of the Feast, there were also a lot of Egyptian families enjoying an outing to the Giza plateau and having picnics in the shadow of the pyramids.
I came to Egypt as the wife of an Egyptian/Canadian businessman and the mother of our children in the late 80's. My husband is no longer with us, the children are pursuing careers abroad, but Egypt is still my home, albeit, a rural rather than urban one. You can reach me at msgabbani at gmail.com