Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bridge Fishing

It was 2 am and I was beat. My daughter had to catch an early flight to Amsterdam and then on to New York, so she had to be at the airport at 1:30 am. On the way back, the people on the Moneeb Bridge, the southernmost bridge across the Nile in Cairo, were still enjoying their picnics, tea, and fishing, so I pulled my jeep over to the right and took a few photos. I'm obviously not the best at night photography. Balancing car lights, advertising lights and the darkness is pretty much a mystery to me, but I liked the way the light caught the fishing lines.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Greatest Pyramid

This isn't the pyramid that everyone takes pictures of, not one of the "three" that most of the world associates with Giza. The Great Pyramid at Giza is a wonderful sight, but for my money the Red Pyramid at Dahshur is the best. This was taken from the desert at sunset, something that is basically impossible to do if you are on a tour. The buses stay on the asphalt roads and they leave long before sunset. A local like myself with a jeep knows the odd ways in to be able to take this shot.

The pyramid itself was built by Sneferu after a couple of false starts with the pyramid at Meidum about 60 km south and the Bent Pyramid which is only about 300 metres south. It is made of red Aswan granite and somehow sits in the desert with much more comfort and authority than the Great Pyramid at Giza. Maybe it's the lack of all those horrible little men selling bad t-shirts and camel rides....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Taxi, Madame?

Recently had my children and a friend of theirs arrive in Cairo on three different flights over two separate days. Other than visiting with family, I've probably spent more time in the airport than anywhere else. This is pretty much what greets most travelers from outside Egypt on arrival. At least two thirds of the crowd are looking to get you a cab. Can be annoying.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Written On The Waterwheel

One of the astonishing things for many tourists is just how many Egyptians speak languages other than Arabic. Even in the villages students are started on English almost in kindergarten and the kids' attendance to their homework can be seen in the graffiti on this sakia, or waterwheel, in the countryside in Giza. I'm impressed. I couldn't write my name in Arabic on a waterwheel or anywhere else for that matter.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Free Delivery

So what do you do when you really need a wheelbarrow but the store is 20 km away and you only have a motorcycle?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Who Stole The Sink?

There's a new Chinese restaurant in Maadi, a family place with easy-going decor, good food and comfortable prices. It also has a surprise for people visiting the facilities, so to speak. We noticed people head for the bathrooms, go in, come out to wash hands and then look stupified. So naturally we had to see what the shock was. Nice touch.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Community Center

The minaret of a neighbourhood mosque seen through banana trees. Smaller mosques are often built by a group of neighbours and provide a place for schools that teach reading and writing for the poorest children.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In Breathtaking Colour

I love flowers. I love gardening. While most of the visuals that people bring to mind when Cairo/Giza/Egypt are mentioned are things like sand, camels, pyramids, and maybe traffic, the fact of the matter is this is a place where things grow amazingly. Add water to the soil and the sun does the rest. Many of the plants here come from other places, like this bouganvilleia that drapes lushly over a wall.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Practicing The Old Arts

Mashrabeya is an old art form in Egypt, originally used to cool the air coming through a window and provide privacy for viewers within the house. Now it is used more decoratively for screens, furniture and mirror or picture frames. This carpentry shop on Road 9 in Maadi is one of the places where you can buy items made with this technique or order something to your own design.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bringing The Water

One of the roads from the Nile to the Citadel at the very edge of the desert under the cliffs of the Moqattam hills runs along the Arab aqueduct. At the river, the aqueduct is very high, perhaps 15 meters, and then it seems to grow shorter as you go uphill. Over the roughly thousand years since the aqueduct was built, the roadbed has come up higher and higher against the stones. Now the city takes better care of things.

Friday, August 10, 2007

And Then Take Them To The Movies...

There's simply something about camels riding in trucks that I really love. That they fold up their legs and sit calmly in the bed of the truck watching the world go by is astonishing. They are such huge and powerful animals striding across the desert.

The title? There's an old joke about a truck that breaks down with a load of penguins bound for a new home at the zoo. The driver calls a friend to pick them up asking that he take them to the zoo while the truck is being repaired. A few hours later, the driver calls his friend, frantic because the zoo wants to know where the penguins are. Friend answers, "Well, they had such a good time at the zoo that we went to the movies."

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Melons At Attention

Egyptians are the fruit stackers supreme. It's wonderful to see how they can pile fruit and vegetables in pyramids and other creative shapes. Getting creative with enormous melons isn't so easy, but they manage.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Technicolor Shops on a Hot Day

Summer afternoons are slow, slow, slow in Cairo. Shopkeepers sit in the shade chatting and drinking tea while hoping for clients. Once the sun sets, the sidewalks will fill with families out to cool off in the evening air and hopefully business will pick up.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

No Need For The Fire

Just what you want on a hot afternoon in Cairo, right? Roast corn. I don't think that his business was that good at the time, but in the evening it surely would pick up. The corn is good and when roasted over an open fire needs no seasoning. The price? About 10 cents US.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Up In The Air

Apologies for my absence but someone decided that the price of copper was high enough to make it worthwhile to dig up a couple of hundred metres of telephone cable, disabling about 500 phones in my area...twice. Welcome in Egypt.

Tents are used everywhere here. If someone dies, a tent is set up for the funeral gathering to listen to Quran. When you have a party, you can call over the tent men to screen off your garden. It's almost worth it just to watch them build the framework, which is lashed together by men standing/balancing on long ladders like stilt walkers.

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