scribbles tagged ‘Egypt’

today I am Omar Sharif

Thursday, December 10th, 2009 | tags: ,  |

Approaching the 'Bent' Pyramid

please consider being extremely smooth when delivering your comments by removing sand from all available crevices


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night felucca in Cairo

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

.Listen to the city at night while I watch this sail boat, felucca, cross the Nile after sunset.  

Later that evening I experienced the rare treat of watching a whirling dervish.   The whirling Dervish are traditionally Sufi people and the dance takes them to another plain of consciousness.   Kiddies often discover whirling without any input from religious organisation.   Whirling is a natural way of connecting with the earth,   in my case normally by falling over.   I loved their outfits, the music, the balance, skill and peace.

The sounds of Egypt were so much more beautiful than the sounds of western cities.

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bringing home the bacon

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

Friend in Cairo:   we’re meeting a man on the street corner to pick up some bacon

DowntownWe loitered on a street corner.   An old mecedes pulled up,   a Egyptain looking man wearing very dark sunglasses,   smoking a cigarette, got out of the car holding an unmarked white bag.   He looked at us, at my blonde friend and called her name.   She walked over.

As a muslim country,  rearing pigs, slaughtering them and distributing thier meat is not a high demand business.   Listening to my friend and the man talk I heard the fear of the non-muslim.

Friend in Cairo: the children at my school think that you catch swine-flu from pigs,   they don’t realise that you catch it from people

The Christians keep pigs,   eat pigs.    Pig farming in Egypt has stopped.   My friend’s  bacon supplier talked about how his pig farms used to be hidden in the heart of christian areas,   or ex-pat communities (Americans) where the locals don’t worry about them.   But now, since swine flu,   it’s not safe, people break into the farms and kill the pigs.   Now he imports his bacon from other countries.

The man offered us a lift to our next stop, the Cairo antiquities Museum.   As he drove he told us his story.   He was a native born  Egyptian.   He left Egypt at 19 to live in the US.   There for 20 years.   His Egyptain wife missed home so they moved back in 2008.   He misses America.   He misses the way people drive. Business is getting tougher.   He talked to my friend about how she managed to find him.   They shared names and places, they were friends of friends in the community of non-muslims.

Picking up the Bacon was so much more symbolic than simply putting food on the table.

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coptic Cairo

Sunday, December 6th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

hanging church wall decorationThe word ‘Coptic’ appears to refer to an Egyptian language spoken in Pharonic times  and currently written with the Greek alphabet

The language is now used in the Coptic church,   a christian church with it’s own Pope (not the  Catholic one).    The apostle Mark reputedly bought christianity to Egypt  in the first century AD when Egypt was governed by Rome, Emperor Nero

The Copts seceded from the other Christian churches in the 5th century  because they rejected the decision of the Council of Chalcedon (451)  that Christ had a dual nature, both human and divine, believing instead that he had a single, divine nature

Christianity is now the largest minority Religion in Egypt.   About 95% of Egyptians are Muslim.   The christains have a difficult relationship with the state, government and some Muslims

hanging church wall paintingThe external architecture of the christain churches was such that I found them difficult to spot.   The give-away sign was a cross,   normally on a dome

I visited the 7th century St. Mary’s hanging church in Coptic Ciaro.   Called the ‘hanging’ church because it  is built overhanging the Roman gatehouse of old Cairo.    This church was increadibly beautiful.   Painted walls with motif’s that often looked celtic, arabic writing, gold-leaf

Wall panels were delicately carved wood inlaid with ivory in regular geometric designs.   Often straight lines constructed to enable you to see circles and curves.    The colours created a warm celebratory atmosphere,   very different from the white-washed  walls of many Church of England churches.   This celebration in art appeals to me.

Mary and Jesus - Coptic churchI was suprised to find the paintings of people (Mary, Jesus, Saints) depicted very pale-skinned people that looked like North Europeans,    an over-emphasis on pale skins given the likely colouring of the people portrayed.   They were at least portrayed with brown-eyes and dark hair

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high speed liquid emissions

Saturday, December 5th, 2009 | tags: , ,  |
Food poisoningWarning:   bad taste food post,   do not read on if you have a weak stomach.

Alone in a restaruant at lunch time in the daylight.   Local people, mostly Muslims, were fasting for Eid.    The sea food in this Alexandria restaurant tasted fabulous

I wisely didn’t eat the shrimps

The food poisoning was loitering somewhere-else,   probably the salad.   Such a tasty salad.    I had to cancel my camping trip in the desert because I needed to stay close to something that could deal with high speed bodily emissions.   Sigh.

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the rain in Egypt

Friday, December 4th, 2009 | tags: ,  |

Alexandria citadelfalls mainly when Wendy has arrived on Holiday (not on a plain in Spain).

In Egypt it only rains for a few minutes every year.   I managed to make a trip especially to the rain clouds to witness the annual event, live, as it happens, in Alexandria.   Can you see the rain cloud sneaking up behind the Alexandria citadel?

Children ran around the street with cloths ready  to wipe the local cars clean.   There was general excitement.   Clearly this was a special social occassion.   Warm rain in Alexandria.   A wonderful memory.

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quick scarper

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

Tourism policeHere come the Rozzers

Wandering the streets of Cairo was quite tricky.   Mainly because  it was tricky to avoid the Tourist police on most street corners.   They  hide in their  little houses.   Luckily graffitti artists often leave warnings for the tourists.   This one helped me  disguise myself as a local before I was Policed

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Muhammad ‘Ali Mosque

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

Saladin Citadel - Muhammad 'Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel - Muhammad 'Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel - Muhammad 'Ali Mosque

Above Cairo, within the Saladin citadel, sits the Ottoman style  Muhammad ‘Ali Mosque  (1848).   An ornate structure that provides water for washing before prayer sits in the centre of an quadrangle.   The huge prayer room is lit by hundreds of low-energy light bulbs in glass jars that may once have held candles.   Tourists  glide around using flash photography with blue plastic boots covering their shoes.    I followed my muslim guide’s example and removed my shoes.

Outside the mosque is a panorama across the city.   If you listen carefully you can hear the peep-peep-peeping of the traffic below….

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car cough phone me

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |



Egyptian road traffic (car, people, horses, cows, goats, carts) work out what to do based on local circumstances rather than any obvious rules.    A free market for its users, a  self-regulating system

Pedestrians. Cairo traffic and roads were a persistent source of fascination. Pedestrians loiter in groups chatting along the roadside, waiting for minibuses and taxes. The spill out onto dual carriageways, they weave between the traffic as the cross roads

4 men and a cow in a chevroletPassengers. Health and safety culture here in Egypt is great fun for people who enjoy not having to follow over-documented common sense for those without it.   The odd free-standing cow in the back of a truck was a common site

Prangs. I was only involved in one car accident during my stay. Judging by the dents and general ‘finnish’ of the cars ‘minor’ accidents are fairly common and not worthy of repair. After our accident the drivers stopped, got out, and argued passionately with arms waving for about 2 minutes then drove away, calm

horse drawnPeeps.  the car horn mainly says ‘don’t move any closer that’s where I am (going)‘.   One of my taxi drivers found this particularly useful when he decided to drive the wrong way down what looked like a one way street.   The sound of car horns is a constant background noise to the city.

Sometimes the sound morphs to music before sliding back to


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serious tut-tut-tutting

Sunday, November 29th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

How can I visit Alexandria and not know that there is a pillar called Bombay Pompey’s pillar there?

There is some serious tut-tut-tutting going on

Alexandria LibraryI was drawn to Alexandria  Library

More wonderful than anticipated.   It was highly anticipated. I spent much of the time there  sitting, listening to the building, watching the students.   The library website has a collection of photographs of the museum, its settings and collections.

The library has a ‘Nobel section’ that is furnished with a replica of the furniture and lighting designed specially for the Nobel Institute in Stockholm and  contains the  book collections of Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature from 1901-2006. I don’t think that fits strictly with the Dewey Decimal system. It is a socially meaningful way to highlight books ‘I’d like something from the Nobel room please…  

There are several museums, a planetarium and a caligraphy centre within the Library.    This  makes sense to me,    being more than a repository of books,   being  a place to explore the world beyond the here and now.   Most libraries are more than a repository of books,   this one has so many enticing advantages through imagination, United Nations funding and gifts from many countries.

I had less than an hour at the Library

The library warranted staying in Alexandria for at least a year….   …seeking sponsorship for specialist research….     ….something more than a tourist walkthrough….


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Bombay’s pillau

Saturday, November 28th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

Egyptian guide: We will go to Bomay’s pillau

Clearly I was misunderstanding what my Egyptian guide was telling me,   though visiting Bombay’s pillau in Alexandria did sound rather facinating.   The sign at the Sarapeiona temple we visited cleared-up the mystery.   The Sarapeona temple was built by Hadrian in the second century,   the same Hadrian that walled-out the Scotttish from England.   Unfortunately those darned Christians destroyed this non-christian the temple in the 4th century….     the pillar remained standing

Pompey's pillarPompey’s pillar

No rice.   No connection to the Indian city.

Ceasars son-in-law, Pompey,  had a history of disputes with Ceasar. Pompey travelled to Alexandria hoping to find refuge with the Egyptians. Upon arrival  Pompey was beheaded by Ptolemy XIII  as un unsolicited favour to Ceasar.   Ceasar didn’t approve.   Subsequent tourists looking for Pompey’s tomb mistakenly named the pillar in the Sarapeiona temple after him. The name remained with the pillar.

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Masa creed

Friday, November 27th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

Saladin Citadel MosqueEgyptian guide (EG):   Saladin did one terrible thing which we cannot forget.   He masa creed 400 dinner guests

Wendy:   Killed 400 dinner guests?

EG:   yes

Wendy: I think you mean massacred not masa creed

EG:   the Americans say Masa creed

I  decided not to contradict her assertion of  how Americans pronounce ‘massacred’.  My role was only to ask questions, follow instructions  and make impressed noises.   For example,   she was the  director of where and when I could take photographs insisting that her prescribed locations were best.    She argued with me  if I chose not to  comply with her suggestions.    She told me to hurry up and move on when I decided to take photographs outside of her prescribed opportunities.

Luckily I’ve escaped from her clutches  to my friends home. My friend  knows  how to

  • ‘not know’
  • acknowledge her own linguistic and meaningful creativity
  • allow her guests to make thier own judgements (about where to take photographs)
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sandy shores of the Nile

Monday, November 23rd, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

 I’ve been lured away to stay with a friend’s family  in Cairo.  How lucky is that?

There will be sunshine on  sand, pyramids, sweat, bizarreness in bazaars,   bobbing on boats, the grandest of floppy hats and the lovely Egyptian people.

Sand maybe getting into crevices, interferring with normal blog posting services, friction and chaffing.   Please be patient, we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause

(Sax warning)

Madness sang night boat to Cairo

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desert holiday hat

Thursday, November 19th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

Hat #14: Fake Zebra skin cowboy hatIn a mock Bavarian village nestling in the Cascade mountains  there is an store that specialises in selling Australian goods.   I purchased a fake Zebra skin cowboy hat that kept the sun from my neck  in  the Nevada desert and New York.   The Australian Zebra skin hat will be joining Eric and I in the  Egyptian desert next week.  

Todays texts:

Friend in Cairo:  How do you fancy camping overnight  in the Desert next Thursday? Tents and drinks provided.



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