Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On Palm Sunday

On the way home from a meeting in Giza on Sunday we passed through Faisal Street to pick up dog food supplies for the pack of hounds here. I haven't been paying attention to the calendar lately and was surprised to see people walking along carrying palm branches. I explained the tradition of Palm Sunday to Mohamed who isn't really up on his biblical traditions and Christian holidays. We have both the Coptic and the Western Easter falling on the same day this year (not a common phenomenon at all) with Shem el Nessim coming on Monday. Shem el Nessim was a pharaonic celebration of the spring equinox that predates Easter by about 3 thousand years and the traditions are very similar.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

He's Doing What???

Mountain Dew, that sparkling drink of unhealth, is trying to break into the Egyptian market, so to interest a new client base in fuzzy drinks, they brought a skateboard and bicycle team to perform at the mall at Carrefour Maadi. With thumping music and wild stunts, they drew quite a crowd, although what everyone made of it is rather questionable.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Face To Face: Women's Options

Egypt is a country of contradictions and nowhere is this more clear than Cairo. While visiting a shopping mall recently I shot these two shop windows with my phone. They basically face each other across the walk and express very clearly two aspects of life here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Island In The Stream

The Photography Elf was driving across the Moneeb bridge and decided to stop on the side to take a couple of pictures. (Reminder to self: tell him to do that sometime when I'm in the car!) He got a few boats which I will post and this lovely shot of Dahab Island. This island has no roads or cars and is in the middle of the Nile almost within shouting distance of the chaos that is Giza and Cairo. Heaven.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Don't We All Wish...

Carrefour is a useful store carrying, as it does, just about everything in the world except for the one small item that you are looking for. But the thing that I like the most about it is the guy who makes up the signs for special sales. He probably has no idea how entertaining he is.

I'll take a 25 yr old body weighing roughly 140 lbs, about 5'8", no bangs or bruises, please.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Learning Cowboy Ways

Steve Edwards, a well-known mule trainer from the US, came to visit a friend of mine and came out to the farm to give Bill and us some lessons about his mule. One of the things that he did was to teach my grooms and gardeners how to make three and four strand rope from baling twine.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

We Kan Increse Yor Mony

Just driving along a street in New Maadi and I looked up and almost died laughing. We get some good typos in signs, but this is a doozy. I'm sure that they didn't realise that louts and lotus are not at all the same.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Upstairs, Downstairs

A woman hangs her clothes out on a line from the balcony while a shopkeeper reads his paper on a quiet day near the Coptic Museum.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One For The Raven

One of our extra-large hooded crows landed on the head of the Sphinx and stood there surveying the general scene. I immediately wished I had a good telephoto lens and decided to take the shot anyway.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Preparing The Warp

A group of weavers lay a mat on the ground and arrange loops of heavy cotton thread on their knees to begin to fix the warp (the lenghtwise strings) for a weaving.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Shave In The Sun

Barbers here work from a briefcase and in the villages you might see men being shaved in a wide variety of places.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Parking Lot

I was on my way back to my car with friends in Nazlit Semman. As we approached the jeep in the parking lot, I realised that cars weren't the only things parking there.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Colour Coordinated

Serendipity! The orange bougainvilleia exactly matches the cotton batiks that are hanging in the courtyard after their first dye job.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Taking a Test Drive

Suppose you want to buy a cart horse. Of course for most of us, this isn't likely but for a lot of people it is much like buying a used car. You need to look it over to see that there are no dings and scratches and then you need to see how well it accelerates and so on. But how to do that? At some of the horse fairs they tie a wheel of a cart to keep in from rolling and then ask the horse to move it quickly.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Objects Of Interest

Every so often I go to get some more dog food for the ridiculous number of dogs who live at my farm. As I sit in the jeep waiting for 10 bags of kibble to be carried to me I look at a shop right next door where they do something to cars, I believe. I've never seen them do it, but they have an interesting array of objects hanging over the sidewalk. I wonder what they are.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


This young man took me back to my childhood in a flash. The joys of dangling a hook and line into a body of water, no matter how faint the possibilities of catching a fish, had to be some of the greatest in the world.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Little Help From Friends

A week ago I was hosting a group of high school students at the farm and their bus managed to run off the dirt road into a ditch. My jeep isn't exactly big enough to drag even a small school bus back to the track, but happily my neighbours happened to have a bulldozer handy. They came over and very, very carefully lifted the bus back onto the road. What would we do without our neighbours?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Learning The Ropes

This is a lovely balady Arab mare with her sturdy mule son at her side. He's only two months old now so by the time he's weaned, he will know pretty much everything he needs to know about driving.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cup Of Tea? Waterpipe?

The horse fair refreshment stand at the horse fair is a tiny bit spare. But it got lots of business from the buyers and sellers of horses, donkeys, and equipment get thirsty bargaining.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


While on a shopping trip with friends in Old Cairo we saw this man repairing folding chairs with new seats and backs. The sticks to his right are parts of garden umbrellas. Good repairs on things here are not very expensive and most people will repair rather than replace.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Waiting For The Next Job

A lot of work in Egypt is done in the street. There are some big garages that can repair cars inside but on Road 9 there is a well-known mechanic who works in the road outside a small shop containing parts. When business is slow, there's usually a place to sit.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Traditions Can Change

When I moved to Egypt there were displays of toxic looking molded sugar figures on sale for Moulid el Nabi (the Prophet's Birthday). This kids were fascinated with the thought of such unhealthiness...and any that got given to them got trashed as quickly as possible. So this year I was interested to notice that the molded sugar has been replaced by plastic Chinese dolls with net dresses. Not really sure that it's an improvement.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Past and Present

One of the things that I love about Cairo is the juxtapositions that can be seen almost everywhere. This is a Roman wall to a harbour that was on a canal that existed in Roman times running from the Nile to the Red Sea. This side of the harbour wall exists as you see while the other was used to support the Church of St. George, also known as the Hanging Church. Note the subway stop in the background.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Wall Of Flowers

A shop selling silk flowers is partially shaded by strings of flowers hanging like a screen.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Early Spring Mimosa

We haven't really had a winter, unless you count a random hail storm last Thursday. The temperatures have been in the April range all of January and February. This gorgeous mimosa tree in full bloom on the road along the road by the lakebed at Dahshur is eloquent testimony to the off-season warmth. Photo by the Photography Elf...I'm on a horse.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Night Frog

A local ceramic product is the terra cotta light fixture that is created by carving interesting slits into a this case a frog. My daughter found this one at a roadside stand last summer. Photo by Laurie Neely.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We're Back Finally

And what is all this white stuff on the road in Maadi? Although many Egyptians thought it was snow, it was hail that ranged in size from pea-sized to golfball-sized. A puppy who was walking along the sidewalk when it began falling ran all over to try to get away from the stones that were being thrown at him until he found shelter under a car. The storm was most impressive with crashes of thunder and bold flashes of lightning lancing down in the distance (thank heaven!). We suspect that one of the flashes may have played a bit of havoc with our local mobile relay tower, the giant palm tree at Sakkara Country Club. The storm was Thursday night and they only just restored service to our area today...after another storm of angry phone calls to Mobinil.

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