Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Blessing of Water

In medieval times wealthy patrons would build water stations called "sabils" in old Cairo to supply travelers and passersby with water. In a desert country water is never refused to someone in need. Now people install filters and coolers along roads to supply cold fresh water to anyone passing by.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Colour It Pink

The fellaheen, the Egyptian farmers LOVE colour...the brighter the better. Some of the houses in the villages are painted with the most amazing colour combinations, one of my favourites in the village near me being red, white and green. I think of Christmas every time I see it. This small house is just outside the back gate of my farm and it was constructed of stone which the recent purchaser then painted a bright pink with green windows and a lovely light blue bench.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Who Needs Traffic Cones?

A recent New York Times article on the theft of manhole covers in the US prompted me to take some photos of the creative ways in which the people of Giza mark the missing manhole covers in our roads. This one looks a lot like a scarecrow.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The First Mango

This gorgeous golden object on my white garden table is the first mango to be produced on my farm. The tree is still young and I only had four of them this year. But it was delicious, all the more for having been watched over for months in anticipation.

Apologies for my absence. The phone lines got mangled out here and we lost the net for about a week.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Making History

Any History or Discovery Channel buff sees Egypt all the time. This photo was taken during the filming of a History Channel program called Digging For The Truth a few years ago. The production assistant was looking for a couple of horses for the star and a local guide for a program on the building of the pyramids. With a tight shooting schedule, she didn't want to risk any broken limbs for the star and called me to use a couple of my horses. We spent a fun two days filming in Giza, Abu Sir, and Sakkara.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Eyes Have It

An interesting young man has been building a place near the lake at Dahshur...and he's been doing it all himself. I'm not sure that a normal builder would want to build eyes into a wall.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Balancing Act

I LOVE the things that people carry on motorbikes and bicycles here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Play Time

A farming family gathers before dinner in the living room where a low wooden table will be placed for the evening meal. Children get a lot of time with their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts in these families. More and more families are choosing to have only one or two children rather than the huge families of past years.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dancing for Joy

People often ask about the status of women in Egypt..and the question is complicated but there is a short answer. Unlike much of the world, the older a woman gets in Egypt, the more respect she is paid. So while things may be frustrating for young women, it does get better. The faces of these older women dancing at a village wedding show the strength that we see in women in Egypt...and also a joy in living.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Baby Tank

One of the things that always fascinates visitors to rural Giza are the water buffalo, or gamoosas. The adults are about the size of a VW Golf, bigger than a VW Beetle. They have a sort of primeval charm and they are calm, peaceful creatures. This new born calf is still small enough to carry though.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Simply Beautiful

I went out with a friend and her daughter to visit some mutual friends. The daughter took advantage of a pool to cool off and I took this snap of her as we were preparing to leave. Our Egyptian girls are lovely.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Village women wear black when a family member dies but they really love and look wonderful in strong primary colours and, my old favourite, purple.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Accessory Stand

Visitors to the Barragil horse fair can buy horses, mules, donkeys, wagons, spare parts, and lovely bright woolen attachments to add to the harness decorations of shiny brass.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lunch At The Horse Fair

I went with a couple of friends to the Friday horse fair in Barragil, a semi-urban area near Imbaba. One friend, an older man who has a passion for mules offered the ride and three women went with him. It's not all the sort of place that tourists would go and not even the sort of place that most women go. The woman running the lunch tent was about the only other human female there and while we did attract a certain amount of attention, most of it was relatively polite. Little boys should basically be put in cages from the age of twelve to about twenty-five, I sometimes think.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Gone To Market

A housewife rides home in a tuktuk, a motorcycle with a cab on it basically, with a load of groceries purchased from a souq near Imbaba.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Man In The City

This statue to Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz stands in Midan Sphinx in Mohendessin. He seems to be walking down the road against the skyline in his characteristic glasses carrying his cane. I first met Mahfouz (only in print unfortunately) on my first trip to Egypt when I found a copy of Midaq Alley in a hotel bookshop and was utterly blown away by the man's writing skill. Every trip after that one included searches in the (then scarce) bookshops to find his work in English so that I could take them back to Canada where I would press them on unsuspecting friends saying, "You HAVE to read this man. He is one of the finest writers I've ever read." When he got his Nobel Prize in the 80's I wrote to my friends in Canada on postcards with just one word: "See!!!" One of my most prized possessions is an autographed set of the Palace Walk trilogy.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Summer Fruit Juice

The large bags of green fruit hanging over the juice stand are the summer favourites, mangoes, which are just beginning to come into season. You can buy them in the fruit markets already, but they are still just a tiny bit green, though with the heat, this will change quickly. We have many varieties, some better for juice than others. My preference in mangoes is just to eat them. The brown fruit in the bags next to the mangoes are the fruit of the doum palm and I'm not sure that fruit is the right word for these objects. I bought a doum once and found myself with a hard brown thing that could be eaten in the same sense that a very old dog biscuit could be. It was dry, and had to be gnawed on. The flavour was a bit like a gingerbread cookie...the effort required to consume it was considerable and of dubious value as far as I could see. They are also soaked, macerated in a blender and strained for juice, which makes much more sense.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Man For The Car

Cairo is a city where it is virtually impossible to park. There are supposed to be about 20 million people here and I'm sure that there are about 10 million cars and buses. Most areas of the city have men, young or old, to help you find a parking place or to move the car that's parked in front of you while you are in a shop. Many of the parking men in Maadi were older men or teenagers, most of whom had never driven a car in their lives, and in the family venacular they became known as parking trolls because all too often they were not seen when you were looking for them and they only appeared as you were about to leave, when they assumed that you would pay them for their supposed services. In all fairness, the parking trolls like this young man do a valuable service for their tips. It would be totally impossible to find a spot to park on the Corniche in Giza without their help.

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