Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Random People of Cairo

One thing I have really enjoyed about Cairo is her people. In most cases I shot without permission - I wanted people looking natural, not posing for me.

Burrow cart hauling feed down the road near Giza.

Ladies shopping for spices in the Khan.

Men smoking shisha in Korba, the center of Heliopolis.

A man answering the call to prayer near the Khan.

This man was selling wooden flutes in the Khan.

I suppose this could have been taken in New York - except for the head scarf.

Also taken in the Khan. Do you see the dark spot on the older man's forehead? I'm told it is a callous from repeatedly touching his head to the carpet while praying.

These are the only white face veils I've seen. Al the others were either black or brown.

He looks so stern, but I bet he is a softy when it comes to his grandchildren.

This man and his goats were on the road to Saqqara.

Another smoker in Korba. I tried to sneak a few photos of the men, but I suspect they knew what I was up to.

When I wandered over to see what these students were up to in the mosque today, they showed me their drawings and said I could take a few photos.

We met this couple on our cruise on the Nile. His English was impeccable, she had a wonderfully engaging smile, and their son, Hussein, was absolutely adorable. They were just like virtually everyone we've met here - friendly and welcoming.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Visiting the Pyramids at Giza

Look, up ahead, there they are!
The pyramids - the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World.

Don't miss the turn,

But first you must stop at the stable owner's shop.

He owns an essential oil shop and insists you sit and enjoy tea while you listen to his sales pitch.

Then it's out to the camel.

Getting up and down is quite challenging.

The camels know the path well.


I still can't believe that's me in that picture.
(I'm the one fending of the sunburn with the hat and long sleeves.)

Our guide encouraged me to climb up a block or two for the photo op. Which my mom now tells me is illegal. Oops.

Such a face.

Today was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I will never forget it.

Cairo: Day Two

There are Tourist Police everywhere we go. (We've seen bomb dogs every day, too.) Their job is to maintain a police presence and keep the tourists safe. Tourism here is big business, and "incidents" cost Egypt dearly. My dad asked one for a picture and he agreed - "for one American dollar." I had to capture this one on the sly.
The Citadel was amazing - it was built in about 1100 and is the only fortress that didn't fall during the Crusades. Apparently it is a popular place for Egyptian school groups. It seems like every middle schooler we passed had to say, "Hi. Where are you from? What is your name?" Some of the boys would add, "I love you." These girls were very sweet and said I could take thier picture as we were walking in.

Within the walls of the Citadel is the Mosque of Mohamed Ali. It was beautiful - the walls inside are all made of alabaster. Our guide told us that it is not typical of the mosques in Cairo since it was built in the Ottoman style. I just loved the lights...

After the mosque we went to the Egyptian Military Museum. I bought a camera permit for one Egyptian pound (about $0.20) but didn't get any decent pictures. The lighting was awful and the displays quite far away. The most interesting thing, for me, was learning about the revolution in the early 1950s. A number of high ranking military officers dethroned the king and exiled him - making Egypt a republic. It is obvious that modern Egyptians hold these men in high esteem, as many people stopped and took photographs of them.

Then we went to the Pharonic Village, a kind of campy version of Greenfield Village. We were with my mom's friend's family which included a three year-old, so we ate lunch first. After we ate the most delicious bread for lunch, we found "the bread lady." She had hand-baked all the bread we had devoured at lunch. It was so good! Imagine fresh thick pita-like bread still warm from the oven.

Apparently you aren't supposed to eat lunch first. So we got a little off track. Instead of getting on the boat to take us through the Pharonic Village we ended up on a Nile River cruise. It ended up being the highlight of the day!

While cruising down the Nile a nice yong Egyptian man, sitting with his wife, asked us where we were from and we all started talking. Later he suggested we go down to the bow of the boat because, "The girls are belly dancing. Not professionally - just for fun." Were they ever a hoot.

We went down and found a group of teenage girls (maybe 12-15 years old,) on a trip from Alexandria, all dancing and having a wonderful time. At one point one of the men got up, went into the cabin and started dancing. We could see him through the windows, but it was very clear that he had separated himself from the girls. It is those things that seem so foreign to me. And the poverty. There is such a stark difference between the "haves" and the "have nots" here. Right across the river from million pound apartments are people washing their dishes in the river.

Today (Monday) we are off to the pyramids. I'm so excited I can hardly sit still waiting for Mohamed, our driver, to get here...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cairo: Day One

Cairo is an amazing city. It is a city of stark dichotomies; one minute a brand new Mercedes Benze passes you, the next this guy cuts you off.

In the rug store the owner shows you $30,000 rugs that took three workers two years to make.

McDonald's (and virtually every other restuarant) delivers.

You see western tourists wearing spaghetti straps and Egyptian women dressed like this. The vast majority of the women we saw had their heads covered but not their faces.

We got our first glimpse of the pyramids today. We were told it was a treat becasue despite the fact they are just out side the city, there is so much pollution and dust in the air you can't see them from across town.

For some reason I can't get Blogger's spell checker to work over here, so I apologize for any errors this week. Trust me - I'm an awful speller.

Friday, March 27, 2009

We Made It!

After traveling by snowmobile, car, and three airplanes we landed safely in Cairo today at 4:30 local time. We're safe but exhausted and about ready to fall down. Tomorrow we are off to the Khan el-Khalili, the city's oldest market.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Slight Change in Plans

We weren't suppose to leave the island until tonight. Mother Nature decided to change our plans...

Paul, the owner of the local airline, told Karen and I in no uncertain terms yesterday, "Weather is coming. If you want to get off the island today or tomorrow, you've got about an hour." Who am I to ignore his 20 years of experience? Karen and I hightailed it up to the airport and flew off yesterday afternoon. Luckily the principal and the parents of our students, who have been stuck at one time or another, completely understood and supported our sudden departure.

Phew. Do you know what this has done to my stress levels? Decreased them by about 1000%! I was stressing about whether or not we'd be able to get off the island. Would I spend my week at home holding an expensive plane ticket I couldn't use or would I feel the Egyptian sand beneath my toes?

I love living on the island, but not being able to get off when you need can be an issue - especially in the winter and spring. Luckily it's an issue I don't need to stress about any more. Well, until next year...

Saturday, March 21, 2009


So long sweet snowmobile.
My feet shall miss you...

Friday was most likely my last day of snowmobiling to work. The snow is melting quickly and we are down to riding on the slim snowbank along the side of the road. So barring some major snow storm, which is highly unlikely and quite unwanted, it's going to be the shoe leather express for the kids and me this coming week. I don't mind the walking, but the two four year-old boys I take to school in the morning are another story.

It isn't so much that they mind the mile walk to school, as I mind navigating the icy streets with them. During the warm days the snow melts, wetting the road. The temps dip at night and the water freezes - leaving slick roads for the morning walk. I have a pair of ice creepers (which I wear religiously,) but I have yet to see them in tiny child sizes. We manage though. Hopefully things will be clear enough after spring break that we can go down the hill in the morning on my bicycle.

My daughter is really going to miss the "sno-beel." Going for a ride in the morning is something she really enjoys...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dear Old Mom

Well, she's not that old...

I'm off to Egypt, next week to visit her. She is living and teaching (here) in Cairo since this fall, so a friend, Karen, and I are off to see her for spring break. Despite the economic downturn, I figured this was most likely the only time in my life that I could afford this trip. When else am I going to have a free place to stay in Cairo? So Karen and I will spend a full week there - visiting the pyramids, the Egyptian Museum, the Kahn el Khalili market, the Camel Market at Birquash, Memphis, the City of the Dead, and heaven only knows what else my mom has lined up for us. Of course I'm going to be taking pictures like a mad woman. That's why I needed this:

Lots of people have been making camera strap covers lately and I wanted one, but I struggle with commitment. So when I discovered that Petchy posted a tutorial on making a camera strap slipcover, I knew it was the project for me. Her directions were fantastic and I am thrilled with how mine turned out. I just can't decide if it will make me look even more "touristy" when I am in Egypt. I know, I know, the uncovered blond hair will say it much louder than the camera strap.

I'll do my best to post while I am there, but I am uncertain how much time (or energy) I will have, not to mention that my mom tells me her internet connection isn't too reliable. You may just have to wait till I get back...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Battle Scars

Score: Table one, the four year-old zero.

The "bonk" as my son calls it is now draining - right down into his eyes. So now instead of just a bruise on his forehead, he has two lovely eyes to match. To me, the eyes actually look worse than the forehead. The island doctor checked him out yesterday and assures us the drainage is normal and nothing to be worried about.

All I say is, thank goodness there was a room full of witnesses. Otherwise I think we'd be getting a visit from Social Services...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I made a table runner out of this same fabric last year. This year I'm all about napkins. If you've got a serger they are super easy - just roll the edges. I cut out 20 inch squares, so I got six napkins out of two yards. If I was going to buy the fabric (instead of using leftovers) I would buy two yards eight inches so I could make eight napkins. I think I whipped out six of these in less than an hour.

Fabric napkins make me feel good. The kids like the way they look on the table and I like how green they are. I'm not Irish, but Happy St. Patrick's Day to you and yours!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Eight Things...

About a month ago Christy tagged me for this "Eight Things" meme. It's taken me forever, but I've finally finished. For some of these I really had to struggle to get eight. Here they are – in no particular order:

Eight things about me:
  • I’m short, only 5”6’, but I have size 10 feet.
  • I’m a total geek.
  • I can remember almost anything set to music.
  • I love pizza.
  • I could drink Diet Coke pretty much constantly all day long - if I could afford it.
  • I read fast – averaging about 100 pages an hour.
  • I like Star Trek.
  • I have to wear custom made orthotic arch supports in my shoes. Combine that with the size ten feet and you have very limited footwear options.
Eight TV Shows I watch:
  • Mythbusters
  • Intervention
  • What Not to Wear
  • NBC Nightly News
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Judge Judy
  • Stargate SG1
  • House

Eight restaurants I enjoy:
  • The City Park Grill (Petoskey, MI)
  • The Jockey Club (Mackinac Island, MI)
  • The Mustang (Mackinac Island, MI)
  • Chee Peng (St. Ignace, MI)
  • The Pier (Harbor Springs, MI)
  • Tokyo (Petoskey, MI)
  • Tony’s (Birch Run, MI)Pretty much any restaurant that isn’t one of the three on the island that stay open year-round.

Eight things that happened today:
  • I dried the condensation on all my upstairs windows.
  • We took the kids out for a special breakfast and we were the only people in the restaurant.
  • I had about five cups of coffee. Which was way above my normal caffeine intake.
  • I fed live meal worms dipped in calcium to a friend's lizards this morning.
  • Before noon I had already done five loads of laundry.
  • I watched my husband's new toy, a Roomba, vacuum my living room.
  • I sang and danced to Harry Belafonte tunes with my son and daughter.
  • I crossed the ice twice - shuttling friends so they wouldn't have to leave their snowmobiles on the mainland.
Eight things I look forward to:
  • Time with my husband and children.
  • My trip to Egypt in 11 days. (More on this very soon.)
  • Uploading and viewing my photos.
  • Sewing time.
  • The new Meijer opening nearby (only an hour away) this summer.
  • Spring!
  • The new Star Trek movie coming in May.
  • The Harry Potter movie opening in June.

Eight things I wish for:
  • The end to these hard financial times.
  • To have my house paid off.
  • Good health for my family and friends.
  • For my children to grow up into good people.
  • To lose 10 pounds.
  • That no child on Earth knew about hunger or war. To have my house magically clean itself while I slept.
  • For all my students (and their parents) to care about their schoolwork.
Eight songs I just listened to:
  • Mary Miche – Kookaburra
  • Mary Miche – Dirt Made My Lunch
  • Sister Suffragette (From the Mary Poppins soundtrack)
  • Brothers and Sisters (From the Free to be You and Me soundtrack)
  • Song of the Lakes – Benzie Rover
  • Barenaked Ladies – The Old Apartment
  • Barenaked Ladies – Wind it Up
  • Oren Lavie – Her Morning Elegance

Eight favorite Movies:
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Witness
  • Ever After
  • The Piano
  • Mulan
  • The Hunt for Red October
  • Apollo 13
  • Sleepless in Seattle
Eight people I tag:
Since the cube root of eight is two, the math geek in me hopes only tagging two people is OK.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sewing for Mama

I finally found some time to sew for myself...

I am now the proud owner of a pair of Amy Butler wide leg lounge pants. I used a vintage sheet I got from a friend of mine. She had it in the back seat of her car - keeping her dog's hair off the back seat. When I jokingly commented on her abuse of vintage linens, she gave it to me. Yippee!

I know I am probably the last person to make these, (I got In Stitches from the library over a year ago) but they were worth the wait. They are really comfy. Though I think if I make another pair I will use elastic instead of a drawstring.

Completely unrelated to sewing, I would like to wish you all a happy Pi day! (3/14) Yeah, I know, I'm a complete geek...

(Photo by Flickr's pillowhead designs)