Monday, November 30, 2009

So Many Rugs

Even the tiniest rug store here carries an extraordinary assortment of types of carpets. Some goat and sheep wool kilims are perhaps more suited to hanging on a wall, while others would make good throw rugs. I use a lot of the rag rugs in my place because they wash so nicely in the machine.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weaving In Silk

My visiting Canadian friend is a sucker for the little roadside shops out here in netherlands of Giza. There are huge carpet schools where children learn to weave rugs and such, but we stopped into what is essentially a walk-in closet filled with rather dusty rugs. I needed some of the rag rugs to cover the sofa's at my house so that the dogs can loll about with impunity and she was interested in some of the goat wool kilims. The owner of the shop was weaving a silk rug.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

From Bag To Rope

While out riding the other day we encountered one of the elderly fellaheen sitting making rope out of strips of feed bags. Many people sell the whole bags to recyclers and the plastic recyclers will take torn ones, but this is the first time I've seen them turned into rope.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Seats Three

Donkeys are a way of life in the countryside. Most families out here don't have cars so the family donkey is the mode of transport. These gentle, intelligent creatures don't have such a great life among the poor farmers, but Brooke Hospital and a donkey sanctuary on Faisal Street in Giza try to help them to keep them safe.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Staff of Life

Bread is a hugely important part of the Egyptian diet. These are two halves of one loaf of bread that was baked by the village housewives. They dry the bread to preserve it because they use no preservatives and usually don't have freezers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Weighing the meat

There is a nice little market in Maadi near the American school, Kimo Market, where you can find all sorts of great treats as well as the more normal fruits, vegetables, milk, bread and meat. We were shopping when a couple of large portions of meat were being delivered. Of course the butcher had to verify the weight of the legs, but he did so with the aid of a brass weight and a simple bar scale.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Queen and Her Attendants

There is a regal quality to water buffalo. They stand and wait for their farmers to bring them piles of fresh green fodder to eat, enjoy the sun and fresh air and the careful ministrations of the cattle egrets who pick any passing flies or other insects from their skins. As we pass the tethered buffalo, she looks at us with calm interest as though we might be bringing news of some sort...or even better food!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lost Elegance

The countryside is dotted with old family holdings from the period before the revolution. This lovely gate with its intricate wrought iron lamps is just one such property. I have no idea who it belongs to but the sight of the gate itself is one that brings a rush of nostalgia.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Better Than Hay

A friend of mine and I rode over to deliver a mare to another friend today. Walid, the young man in the photo, rode the mare over and then caught a ride back with my driver who met us there with some foul and ta'ameya sandwiches. Obviously the chestnut gelding thought that the sandwich looked much, much better than his clover hay.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Football Mania

The Egyptian national football team is playing Algeria for a chance to go to the World Cup this evening in Sudan. A good portion of Cairo was totally blocked by celebrations after the Egyptian win a few days ago and sales of flags for supporters has been brisk.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dancing Horse

As many have enjoyed the photo of the mare and photographer, this was shot at the same exhibition. Egyptian dancing horses are usually stallions, the work taking a lot of muscle. They dance to the music of local musicians.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Photographer and His Subject

The Arabian Horse Breeders' Association held a noncompetitive show at Rabab Stud today afer four days of the Egyptian National and International competitions. Some of the horses were shown at liberty, meaning that they were simply turned loose in the paddock for people to watch and admire. After playing around in the paddock for a while, this lovely black mare came to a stop next to one of the photographers for her handler to place the halter on her so she could be led out.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wooden Bridge

The farmers here make pretty much everything they need themselves. In this case it was a bridge to get to the other side of the canal. Sometimes they are made from palm logs, sometimes concrete, sometimes from random scraps of wood.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Saddlemaker's Workshop

Probably most of you have never seen the inside of a saddle. Most of us hadn't either until Zsuzsu Illes came to visit for a couple of weeks to do clinics on riding and saddle fit. One of our local saddlemakers has been trying to learn to do a better job so he was invited to a saddle fitting session where I translated for him and then he invited the group to his workshop so that Zsuzsu could give him ideas and suggestions for his work. These are some trees for saddles that haven't been built yet. They are not something that I'd put on any of my horses but they will likely end up on horses at the pyramids stables. Unfortunately, most of our good saddles have to be imported at considerable cost and without being able to be sure that they will actually fit our horses. For people who can't afford this, a local saddle is the only solution but it isn't good for the horse. We are working on getting some saddlemakers to come and work with the locals to improve the quality.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Cleanup Crew

The stalks are those of last summer's okra crop. They are allowed to get quite tall and woody and cut down after the harvest of the last pods which will supply next summer's seed. The sheep will trim off all the leftover leaves and twigs after which they will be left to dry to be used for firewood for the farmers to boil their tea water over while working in the fields.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Housewives' Helper

The women living in the villages don't usually have cars or access to supermarkets so enterprising young (and old) men drive carts around with the more commonly used cleaning supplies, such as simple soaps, detergents and the old fashioned rusts-away-in-your-hands steel wool to clean the enormous aluminum cooking pots they favour. These things and a bit of elbow grease leave the pots glistening in the sun.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tea Break at Dahshur

Some of the tourist police and their camels take a break in the afternoon in the shadow of the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur. This pyramid is interesting for its sort of squashed shape (the builders used too steep an angle initially and then had to lower it) and for the fact that it is one of the only pyramids that still has its facing stones.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Coffee Break

Many years ago before Cairenes went totally overboard over lattes, there was a nice family owned Italian style coffee shop on Road 9 in Maadi. Cafe Greco was an instant success among the expats and soon was filled with both local and foreign residents. For my money, it's still the best coffee in Cairo, despite Starbucks, Cilantro, Beano's and any number of other competitors.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Intersection Market

They are everywhere, I know, not just in Egypt, those guys selling kleenex and and steering wheel covers and pop-out sun shades to put in your car window. This guy caught my eye with the wonderful colours of his dusters.

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