The River Nile

 Largely forgotten by tourists anxious to see the Pyramids, floating on the Nile is one of the nicest ways to spend a few hours in Cairo.  It is a welcome escape and a great way to get a different perspective of the city.  Locals will be fishing with poles along the banks and from the bridges but also tossing nets out from boats for commercial sales.  It can be very appealing and picturesque provided you don’t look to closely and maintain a certain perspective.  I am grateful that I do not have to depend on the fish from this river for my survival.  Its neglect is grossly evident.

I love the hand painted signature on the side of the police boat.  These officers are just sitting anchored at the shore which pretty much depicts the role of the police force in Cairo at the moment.  They are not at all well respected by the average citizen.  I can’t believe the number of times I have witnessed interactions between ordinary citizens and the police, usually in traffic situations, and the civilian is verbally tearing a strip off of the police officer.  These are the moments when I am taken home in my mind and entertained by the thought of someone attempting such disrespect for one of our officers of the law.  Unfortunately, these guys are also victims of the old regime and are largely untrained, very young, and paid very little.

Despite its’ reputation as a conservative Muslim country Egypt has plenty of dens of sin, especially in Cairo.  Clubs serving alcohol until the wee hours of the morning fill up at about midnight with the scantily dressed who can put patrons of clubs in the major European cities to shame.  However I think that there is an element of living with repression that causes some to express themselves overtly resulting in just purely slutty and tacky dress.  Alternatively, walk into any fine hotel restaurant and you will see beautiful statuesque and clearly very wealthy prostitutes.  You can pick them out by the length of their skirts and maybe their heels but not much else.  They look like any other woman of the elite class here.  


The regular folks and families will take out the party boats.  Twenty to fifty people some loud music and lots and lots of dancing.  Egyptians are singing, dancing, and generally fun loving people.

Tahrir Bridge full of protesters making their way to the square.

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Cairo, Nile Corniche

Probably the only proper sidewalks in Cairo, the Corniche that runs along both sides of the Nile offers a lovely walk where you can grab a tea, watch the boats, or board a felucca for your own relaxing afternoon on the water.  It is best to plan for these things though because we forgot both the food and the wine this time, however we were still able to make the best of it.

Autoparts

No room to spread out, well then up it is.  If you are in the market for car parts you need to find yourself on the downtown side of the 26th of July bridge.  Warning to sensitive women, this is a heavily male dominated area.  Although generally friendly and harmless these animals have been known to toss out the odd comment or two.  As always, knowing a few choice words in Arabic can work wonders here.

Sunsets and Solitude

Contemplating Dog


I took these pictures on the group trip with the teachers from AIS.  It was a difficult decision for me to attend the trip with twenty odd other people.  At the best of times I am somewhat shy of large groups, to put it politely.  As it stood I  had faced some challenges the week prior in my personal life and in the same week found out that a friend and old roomate had succumbed to her cancer.  Heartbroken and head swimming I reluctantly boarded a mini bus with some happy-go-lucky types, thankfully with some edge, and took off.


The desert has definite healing properties in its’ vast expansive landscape and never ending sky.  It was exactly what I needed and I took advantage of every moment that I could walk, explore, and just sit with my thoughts.  Most mornings I was up an hour or so before breakfast and would lose myself by absorbing the radiating energy all around me.  This provided me with the umph to be able to participate, with pleasure, in the conversations and activities going on throughout the day.
Justine in Morning Light
Walking in the Sand

AIS Egypt Group Trip


This is the first large group trip I have taken into the desert.  We are a group of about nineteen teachers and now we are trapped with each other for four days and three nights.  Ugh.  Here I am thinking, was this the right thing to do?  If not, I guess it is just another challenge to face and I am sure that I will have something to take from the experience.  As it turns out the group was fantastic with a nice mix of personalities.  Everyone was really easy going and there was plenty of freedom to do your own thing.

We travelled with the Safari Oasis www.safari-oasis.com tour group in a caravan of Land Rovers.  The guides as led by Ahmed El Sayed Gaber, were highly professional and attended to our every need.
 


It is not really in my nature to boast however, our jeep was the best as we were with the boss, Ahmed which also meant that we were in the lead car.  Justine, Chris, Marjan, Ahmed and I had a really good dynamic and began to get into a routine with our driving adventures over the few days.

Desert Activities

You might think that there is not a lot to do in the desert and that it could be a bit boring.  Not true.  These passing camels were really able to hold our attention for some time.  Crazy beasts.  Some visitors may find it fun to run up a hill of sand like the locals, to have a deeply philosophical conversation with a colleague in breathtaking surroundings, or just simply climb some big rocks.  All worthwhile forms of entertainment.

Running Up That Hill

Don’t think that all the fun ends there.  A stop for easily collectable firewood provides an opportunity to celebrate by dancing. Later, settled at camp, the sand boards come out and we take turns riding the dunes.  Not at all like snowboarding or tobogganing, the friction does not work to your advantage on sand.  Still amusing regardless.  I think that the activity that was undertaken the most times by the most people was simply standing and staring in awe in any direction at the gorgeous landscape.

Pottery Cat

What can I say that he hasn’t.  Although knowing of and seeing the amount of strays in this country can be heartbreaking, they will show you their resilience time and time again.  There are definitely some of the most beautiful cats I have ever seen here.  This little guy doesn’t have it so bad as he is with a community of artists and art lovers who are quite likely to care for him.