Category Archives: Egypt

What is it about Cairo?

The experience of Cairo: where – how – to begin? She is a place that can effortlessly embrace diametrically opposed elements, and then ask you why you are looking at her like that? See the hijab-wearing woman enjoying the bellydance show; see the galabiya-clad men answering phones with James Brown ringtones. See the mosque; see the MacDonald’s. See the pyramids, although you’ll have to move a bit to see around the “Coke: Quenching an Ancient Thirst” billboard. See the artificial limbs for sale, displayed on blankets on the street. See the filth; see the man galloping down the street, riding bareback on a majestic white horse, mane and tail flowing in the wind (what a missed shot that was!); see the pockmarked freeways that suddenly just end; buy a delicious, refreshing fresh mango drink from a guy on the corner. Enter the bar where patrons shout at the soccer match on the telly; see the aversion to Western culture; hear the constant request for baksheesh. See the contempt for women; feel the policemen grab your ass; meet spectacularly gorgeous men who are not horrified that you’re a woman. Meet the school girls thrilled to try and talk to you; then meet their teachers who are so angry that they are.  “Hire” a private hour inside the pyramid of Cheops, where weird things most certainly happen, but don’t enter if you’re claustrophobic (note: crawling required). Visit the elegant Pink Lady – the Egyptian Museum – to stare at really spooky artifacts, but only if you dare cross the murderous-seeming streets where drivers are incapable of not honking their horns. And definitely don’t miss the policemen astride camels.

See – and hear – it all. These photos offer only a tiny glimpse into this noisy, dirty, fast, shocking, surprising, astonishing, mysterious, confusing, discomforting, inscrutable settlement on the famous river that 20 million Cairenes call home. But don’t take my word – I was in Egypt for less than two months, and it wasn’t last week. If you’ve been or when you go, I’d love to hear how it went for you.

Live all you can. It’s a huge mistake not to.


This day, spent on the Nile, in the tiny Nile Smile, was spectacular for me, although my eager photo snapping greatly irritated the captain, who, it appeared, greatly resented making a living ferrying a white westerner woman on his home surf. But for me, it was magic.

His dislike blasted through his impenetrable Arabic, but, oh, I did not care one bit. An avid chainsmoker, he suddenly started shouting at a boat headed directly at us, ordering his underling to steer the boat directly towards them. At the last second, the boats deftly cleared within inches of each other, allowing just enough time for the second boat to pass several cigarettes to our captain, providing him more fuel to complain. His boat was covered with Bob Marley and Rolling Stones stickers, but when I handed him a “Live Aloha” sticker in an attempt at reconciliation, it had no meaning for him, and he tossed it on the deck of his boat. Oh well.

Back on land, I visited an evening market, where the likes of black paper, ment tea, kary, and hot tchele were sold, while prayers trumpeted out of minarets, and Egyptian shopkeepers professed their love for me, if only I would buy what they were selling.

Egypt. It wasn’t until I returned home from my second visit and read Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy that I finally began to begin to understand the place.

Hope you’re not already over Egypt, cuz there’s more.


Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.


I’m finding it difficult to describe Luxor. Measly words are inadequate, but here are a few to try: majestic, magnificent, mind-boggling, mysterious, merciless. Please, please know that the images presented here do nothing to convey its amazing self. You really need to go for yourself.

Live all you can, right now, in this very life.

Up, Up, and Away Over The Storied Nile

A hot air balloon from the Valley of the Kings up and over the Nile: this was a day not to be forgotten. The pre-launch drama, the thrill of the lift-off, the terror of looking over the side . . . and then there was the semi-crash landing. Plus dancing, and camels in the backyard. Yeah, not a typical day at all. Enjoy these photos from the safety of your chair.

Live all you can, and maybe try a hot air balloon ride.

A Different Sort of Valley

When I think of a valley, green pops to mind, but not this valley, although the dun colors do subside as one nears the Nile. This valley is hot and dry and also dry and hot, the better to preserve things like kings, apparently. Enjoy the photos. Next Friday, even more Egypt!

Live all you can, in this very life! Because, as per Percy Bysshe Shelley:

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Friday Fun as per Mary O

I had planned not to renew my WordPress blog account when it expires, that is until I read this very short poem by Mary Oliver among the tributes after her death in January:

Instructions for living a life.

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

Since I’m not traveling at the moment (next trip starts in September), I thought I’d continue to tell about some earlier places I was fortunate enough to be astonished by, so back to Egypt! Next Friday: Valley of the Kings!


Live all that you can.  Life is short.

This is not Hawaii

If you were expecting something about the eruption, here’s an interesting tidbit I read this morning:  After Kilauea’s 1924 summit explosions, the volcano entered a decade of piddly rumblings, followed by 18 years of silence. Experts say Kilauea may be heading toward years — even decades — of little or no activity.

“Piddly.”  We shall see.  Silence would be nice.  As would fresh air.  And no lava eating houses.  Or lava bombs in the backyard . . .

And now, I turn to another past.  In preparation for a photography course I plan to take (gotta figure out the blinding white parts), I started dredging up photos from previous travels, necks of temporary woods.

These are from one of my trips to Egypt, land of contrasts.  They were all taken in or very near Cairo (with an old camera).  Many Cairenes jostled to have their picture taken.  Some, not so much.