Autor: emily

~ 08/04/09


That’s right. I’ll be the first to admit that I look like a huge dork in this picture. What can I say? I loved Cairo. Every single minute I was there. Sure I feared all kinds of things, and yeah, I did go through my fair share of pre-dining Purell, but I loved it.

Maybe it’s because it feels kind of like an adventure or maybe it’s just because the person I love happens to be there, but it is a beautiful place and I hope all of our friends and family can experience it with us at some point over the next two years.

So because I am officially done with being unadventurous and unfulfilled, I am officially moving there. And the best part about it, I’ll be moving with my husband! Aaaah I am so excited! Alie is pretty excited too. She thinks there’s hope for me because she was starting to worry about how much dialogue we were having and she made me delete the part I had typed about how she already asked me to get her suitcase down out of the closet.

So if you see me with this strange expression on my face, don’t be alarmed, it’s just a huge dorky smile and it’s because I am completely and totally elated. It’s going to be hard living my life looking this ridiculous, but I am sure that somehow I will be ok.

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Autor: emily

~ 17/02/09


I haven’t even been home a month yet. This is a picture from my scenic tour with Meredith. A benevolent-looking cow-beast.

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Autor: emily

~ 01/02/09

Alie missed us

Alie missed us

Brandon’s dad sent us this picture of Alie while I was still in Cairo. I think she is still harboring a bit of resentment. I never knew until now that it was her lifelong dream to ride a camel at Giza. I keep telling her that Marti didn’t get to ride the camel either, but it’s no use. At least she finally seems happy I’m home now, and thank goodness, because I would otherwise be pretty lonely. Too bad she doesn’t cook for me.

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Autor: emily

~ 25/01/09


I leave for Portland tonight at 4:00am, and our cab is coming to pick us up at 1:30am to get us to the airport.  I don’t even know what to say!

This has been such a great trip, but the clock’s ticking so I will have to get sentimental later.  Perhaps I’ll post again from Portland.  I will be looking forward to all of Brandon’s future posts.  Two words: more Marti.

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Autor: emily

~ 23/01/09

on a the nile

So I am still sick.  Black lung, bird flu, common cold, or whatever it may be, I am not letting it ruin the last few days I have in Cairo with Brandon.  Dr. Brandon has been great, and I do think the medicine is helping.  Brandon was kind of sick too, but I think he has developed a robust immune system living here, so he seems to be pretty much better.

At the beginning of the week, we spent a couple of days on the couch doing nothing except coughing, sneezing, and eating take out food, and aside from the persistent cough, I feel a lot better.

On Wednesday, we went to the Khan al-Khalili, Cairo’s biggest souk which dates back to the 14th century!  It was a lot of fun… tons of vendors, people, and LOTS of really cool stuff ranging from beautiful handmade wood furniture to pyramid snow globes.  Perhaps the most memorable moments however, were when… more than once… Brandon was… mistaken for Leonardo di Caprio, hahaha!  One of the times, someone said “Titanic.”  It was pure gold.  After a quick google image search, I’ve decided it has to be the hair and maybe his eyebrows, but otherwise, I’m not convinced.  It was funny.

Thursday was wonderful.  We picked up some fateer from the local fateer place in Maadi and had a picnic on a felucca on the Nile.  Feluccas are big, low sailboats, and apparently, the perfect place for a picnic, and fateer is somewhat like pizza in that it comes in a pizza box.  The dough is flaky, and the toppings are stuffed inside.  We topped things off with dessert… banana fateer which had powdered sugar and creme on top.  It was amazing.  Floating down the Nile was very relaxing, and slowly the noise of honking car horns and traffic (a constant anywhere in the city), faded away into near silence.  It was lovely!

P.S. I also got to experience the great winter storm of ’09 today.  I think I felt two raindrops and Brandon claims to have felt three.  Before it hit, I checked which said it was 70 degrees and the forecast was “SAND.”  I kid you not.  I never knew sand was a weather phenomenon, but apparently, it counts.  Now it says “widespread dust.”  We went to the store, and it doesn’t feel like a sandstorm… and having lived in Phoenix for nine years, I’ve been in many.  Definitely no haboob today.

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Autor: emily

~ 19/01/09

Today is a sick day.

We are either experiencing severe allergies, which is totally possible, or we have colds.  With less than six days of my trip left, I may be forced to save some things I had planned to do for someday in the future.  But who knows, maybe we will be well tomorrow.

One of the great things about having a chemist around is that he knows about the different ingredients in medicine.  I’d be lost without the classic packaging and titles like Claritin or Mucinex D.  So Brandon is off to the pharmacy to pick up some medicine with the same ingredients as the ones we use back home.  I wonder if this is when the dried seahorses or bats or hud hud birds would come in handy.  I’ll go with science first.

This just in, I looked around a bit online and discovered this about those seahorses:

“They are being hunted since 342 BC and it is now the hottest recipe for traditional medicines of China, Korea and Thailand as an aphrodisiac, a drug against bronchial asthma and whooping caugh [sic],” Sreepada told AFP.

…”Demand appears to be greater than supply. The trade is rapidly growing and the populations of seahorses are being over-exploited with many places approaching the danger of extinction,” it said in a classified document made available to AFP.

I do have some sort of bronchial woes and a cough… but NEVER would I crunch down some dusty old seahorse.  YUCK.  I’m sure I’d end up sicker.

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Autor: emily

~ 18/01/09

I think I am suffering from either allergies or smog inhalation.  Ugh.  Anyhow, since today is a Sunday, and Sundays are equivalent to Mondays in the western world, lots of things were closed.  So that meant that we got all ready to go to the Kahn Al-Kahlili, an ancient souk from I think the 14th century, just to learn that a lot of shopkeepers don’t open their shops on Sundays.  So instead we decided to go to Dar El Salaam, which is only a few metro stops away.

If I was feeling more consumer-y, I would have probably had a hay-day at Dar El Salaam.  There were tons of clothes, scarves, shoe stores, and of course… food.  We bought some sweets called bah-laa’wa.  They are basically balls of dough that are deep fried until golden brown and dipped in a syrupy honey/sugar glaze.  So basically a doughnut hole, but the honey glaze seems to soak into them a little more.  Yum!

The biggest turn off to market shopping is the meat.  I honestly have nothing against raw meat… when it is refrigerated.  Big hunks of all kinds of meat, sausages, fish, squid, and eels and no refrigeration equals some pretty rank air.  Mix that with the smog and basically it’s just all around gross.  Makes me appreciate the neighborhood Brandon lives in a little more.  I’d sacrifice the charm and convenience of fresh, local, organic food for more tolerable aromas.  And there is a great produce market close by, so that’s really all I need.

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Autor: emily

~ 16/01/09

Today we went to the Souk al Gomaa, or the Friday Market.  It was crazy.  There were so many vendors selling anything and everything: junk, old mechanical parts, jeans, shoes, chandeliers, bath tubs, socks, tops of blenders, cell phones, goats, taxedermied animals that looked like toys, seriously questionable food that we decided was homemade cheese, bottoms of blenders, salted fried embryonic chickens, hair gel, doors, you name it.

Perhaps the best part about it all were the vendors’ marketing tactics.  They would sing or yell something about their wares through patched together microphones or telephone receivers hooked up to loudspeakers, even though the alleys where everything was lined up were quite narrow.  It was amazing.

Be warned, one of the below pictures is pretty gorey, so STOP here if you do not want to be disgusted. (more…)

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Autor: emily

~ 14/01/09


On Sunday, we went to an Egyptian Premier League soccer game with Brandon’s Egyptian friends Mustafa and Aiman. The game was between Alahly and Zamaalek who are apparently huge rivals, and this was the big game of the season.  As we moved through the line toward the ticket-takers and started seeing more and more police in full riot gear, I began wondering if we should perhaps rethink our plans.  Fortunately conservative-and-cautious-little-emily lost to why-not-emily, and after about six friskings for the men, and only two for me, we made it in.  Mustafa is a big Alahly fan, and he had to go through extra security because he had face paint on.  I think they were trying to prevent any over-excitement that might taunt rivals because it sounds like last year’s game was a little wild.  I think people ripped up seats and threw them last year… but with all those riot police around this time, no one was tempted to do anything beyond wave a flag or banner and subsequently be taken away for doing so.  Not sure how you smuggle a huge flag in with six thorough security checks, but I guess we can tell the fans are passionate.  Fortunately, our team won 1 to 0.  And we quietly and peacefully left and returned home.

Today we went to check out some souk action with some friends.  Following our trusty Lonely Planet book’s recommendation was somewhat of a bust, although we found a wonderful junk shop and stumbled across Coptic Cairo (expect more on that in a future post after our inevitable return trip).  We hopped back on the metro and headed for the markets near the Khan Al Kalili (and expect more on that later as well!).  There is just so much to see it is impossible to even begin to describe it all.  You will all just have to come visit to see it for yourselves!

Anyhow, I will say that everything is oddly arranged rather disadvantageously for the vendors but quite conveniently for the shoppers — every store on a block sells pretty much the exact same thing.  We went through a block of curtain rod shops, a whole block of baby shower trinkets, a whole block of party supplies and fake flowers, etc.  Check out the photos below for some oddities from the block of spice shops.

We also purchased and started to eat something that resembled koshari but alas was not (and probably had meat in it).  Then we tried some of the corn I previously mentioned in another post and we were pretty disappointed (we’ll have to find another feather-fan-corn-roaster to try later), and then FINALLY, much like goldilocks, found the street food that was JUST RIGHT.  I forget what it was called, but it was a delicious whole grain, wheat berry type of porridge with milk, coconut, chopped nuts, raisins, shredded wheat, and who knows what other delicious goodness… served very hot, YUMM!

And now, Brandon is making pizza dough again, and since I am apparently trying to eat as much food as humanly possible while I’m here, I am going to go help however I can by eating toppings while the dough rises.

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Autor: emily

~ 09/01/09

a camel picture

We woke up early and hopped in a cab and headed for Giza today.  Driving through Cairo, the huge office buildings and thirty-story apartment buildings began to fade into smaller (10 – 20 story) red brick and gray concrete towers with patches of bright green Nile delta farmland disappearing in between the buildings.  Almost all of these buildings, while appearing to have already been occupied for a long time, seem to be unfinished, with rooftops ready for additional development with concrete supports and rebar reaching skyward awaiting further growth.

It was a very hazy day (a euphemism I like to use in place of “smoggy”), and the atmosphere was beautiful with the morning sunlight streaming through the dust and haze. Brandon kept saying we should be able to see the pyramids looming over the horizon, but the haze prevented us from seeing anything.

After about 30 minutes in the cab, driving incredibly fast most of the way, we exited the highway and soon slowed to join the traffic of braying mules, clopping camels, and other erratic drivers and pedestrians.  I was shocked to see how close the city creeps up to the pyramids, but it was a beautiful sight nonetheless!

We started our morning at Naser Bresh stables.  There are dozens of stables around the pyramids, but this stable was recommended by our trusty Lonely Planet guidebook and was noted as having healthy, well-fed horses that are treated well.  Naser Bresh got us all set up.  My horse was white and as far as I can tell was named Ahmed Moon, and Brandon had a brown horse whose name I didn’t catch.

Our guide, like pretty much everyone else in Egypt, could not say “Brandon,” so me and “Bred” headed out with him into the desert.  After passing some trash piles, a modern day city of the dead, and lots of peculiar graffiti of many-humped camels, we were trotting along in the desert at last.  It was beautiful.  Brandon’s horse spooked my horse a few times, which sent my horse (and me!) flying through the desert at top speed… it was a little scary to tell the truth, but a lot of fun.

Our guide led us to a little hut atop a dune where we sat on a fallen palm trunk and drank delicious hot tea in the desert wind.  We got scammed by a heckling camel rider who talked us into getting on the camel and made me wear his scarf on my head.  Let’s not talk about it.  It was enough of a challenge to tell him NOT to lead Brandon out into the desert on his camel and leave me behind at the hut.  Lu’h!

Despite the camel scammer, it was a ton of fun.  We galloped at top speed toward the pyramids and then headed back.

There were far fewer tourists at the pyramids than I expected.  I’ll let the pictures tell the story.  The one thing we could not capture was the most amazing moment of sound I may have ever experienced.  Today is a Friday, a holy day for Muslims.  In addition to the call to prayer, there is more beautiful singing and sermons in Arabic projected on loudspeakers on Fridays.  Generally you can only hear it coming from your closest Mosque with a few other Mosques a little more quietly in the background… but today, on top of the Giza plateau, the acoustics and the wind carried the sounds from hundreds of Mosques in Giza and Cairo up to our ears all at once.  The clock struck noon, and slowly, one by one, more beautiful sounds piled in on the cacophony.  It was amazing.  And slowly, as the sermons wound down, the din of the overlapping language and song died out.

It was a beautiful day.  I never knew I’d actually get to experience these things in real life.

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