Moro

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Friendly, gracious and hospitable.   An Egyptian Orthodox Christian or Coptic, mid 30’s, single, born and raised in Cairo.  He speaks perfect English and has traveled to and experienced more places in the U.S. than most Americans. I receive a daily call (I now have an Egyptian SIM card) or email from him, asking if all is well, if I need any assistance, have any questions, etc.

He is a kindred spirit that by chance I met on the airport bus in Vienna. My only regret is that I did not ask him to sit and talk with me on the nearly empty flight from Vienna to Cairo.   We are now making up for my omission.
Two nights ago he insisted that Luis and I join him for dinner. He arranged a Uber driver to meet us at the Pyramid View Hotel and take us to meet him in downtown Cairo. After an exciting drive (every drive in Cairo is exciting) we met at one of the most spectacular restaurant locations in Cairo, on the tip of an island in the middle of the Nile. We sat 10 feet from the river.  It felt like home.  Moro felt my Ka, somehow. He repeatedly refused our offers to pay for anything.

 

The three of us had a wonderful dinner, drinks and great conversation. We went to see Moro’s store then he drove us around Tahrir Square (which I walked around yesterday, something I wanted to do on my visit to Cairo – an experience similar to going to Ferguson, Missouri for a lunch of fried chicken soon after the riots). Moro then drove us home to our hotel in Giza.

I will reconnect with Moro here in Cairo upon my return in 2 weeks.

I have been busy. Too bad I cannot upload photos, but I will when there is a solid inet connection.

Yesterday’s tour with our guide included the Egyptian Museum, rated as one of the best in the world. It contains thousands of items from King Tut’s tomb (but not his mummy which is in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor), statues, carvings, mummies and countless ancient artifacts. Went to Saqqara, Memphis and the step pyramid of Zoser, which preceded the great pyramids of Giza (there are several hundred pyramids in Egypt) and the open air musuem. Walked through the oldest large cut stone building in the world. I looked in awe and stood next to ancient carved hieroglyphs that were > 4000 years old.

Spent several hours walking the narrow alleys of Khan El-Khalill, full of souks (shops) selling every imaginable Egyptian item any tourist or traveler, male or female, could ever desire.   I saw thousands and thousands of houkas. I repeatedly did the tourist dance but left without a single purchase other than a watermelon smoothie.

We removed our shoes and walked the floor of the Mosque of Mohamed Ali Pasha and the Citadel, which dates to 1126.
Earlier in the long day I purchased several handmade papyrus Egyptian prints, which will be wonderful art adorning a wall in my home, somewhere, among the other traveler stuff I have framed.

Luis returns to Chicago early in the AM and I will miss his friendly smile, companionship and Ka, but another intrepid traveler will enter to fill the void that his departure will create.

I am sure of it.

From wiki:

The Ka (kꜣ) was the Egyptian concept of vital essence, that which distinguishes the difference between a living and a dead person, with death occurring when the Ka left the body. Egyptians believed that Heket or Meskhenet was the creator of each person’s Ka, breathing it into them at the instant of their birth as the part of their soul that made them be alive. This resembles the concept of spirit in other religions.

The Egyptians also believed that the Ka was sustained through food and drink. For this reason food and drink offerings were presented to the dead.

Namaste

From The Hotel Computer

This is a test from the hotel computer.

There appears to be fast inet and it appears I could easily upload pics.  Will work on getting them from the camera flash card to the computer to upload some.

Will stay here 2 more nights then head south to Luxor by train.  All arrangements have been made.

Rest Day 4/29/2016

“All Of My Life”

All of my life, I’ve been searching
For the words to say how I feel.
I’d spend my time thinking too much
And leave too little to say what I mean
I’ve tried to understand the best I can
All of my life.

All of my life, I’ve been saying sorry
For the things I know I should have done
All the things I could have said come back to me
Sometimes I wish that it had just begun
Seems I’m always that little too late
All of my life

Set ’em up, I’ll take a drink with you
Pull up a chair, I think I’ll stay
Set ’em up, cos I’m going nowhere
There’s too much I need to remember, too much I need to say

All of my life, I’ve been looking
But it’s hard to find the way
Reaching past the goal in front of me
While what’s important just slips away
It doesn’t come back but I’ll be looking
All of my life

Set ’em up…

All of my life, there have been regrets
That I didn’t do all I could
Making records upstairs, while he watched TV
I didn’t spend the time I should
It’s a memory I will live with
All of my life.

“All Of My Life” by Phil Collins

 

Taking a rest day today.  Charging batteries in everything – in me, the camera, the iPhone and the iPad.  Writing.  Researching Egypt on the web and in my Fodor’s Egypt book – where I have been, where I will go next.

As I started to write, I played some music on the mini speaker from the iPod.   The Phil Collins song above started playing.  I replayed it three times.

“All my life, I’ve been searching….”

Laying in bed, looking out the window at the great pyramid with the clipity clop of horse hooves on the street below (on the new mattress that was placed on my bed frame yesterday after I made a passing comment to Abdoul that I had not slept well on the 2″ thick mattress).  Outside it a beautiful day but I just want to be alone and avoid the touts and their incessant efforts to get my attention and money.

Had a light breakfast on the rooftop (no more falafalas) with Luis and met some of the new travelers – the muslim attorney from Virginia with his wife and three young children, the 34 year old female that works for the TSA in New York and is traveling alone……….. All kindred minds.

“Set ’em up, I’ll take a drink with you

Pull up a chair, I think I’ll stay
Set ’em up, cos I’m going nowhere
There’s too much I need to remember, too much I need to say”

I have already spent over an hour attempting to upload this post.  It takes forever, if at all.

Just before quitting to try to upload anymore, Luis knocked on my door and we left to get some lunch.  It was just after 1 PM- but the restaurant was closed – for midday prayers.  We stopped at a little place for a bottle of water and to wait for prayers to end and started the traveler’s dance.  2 waters.  How much?  We agreed on 5 Egyptian pounds per bottle or $0.50 per botle.  I gave him a 50 pound note, wanting 40 pounds in change.  He brought out 2 big 1.5 liter bottles and tried to give me 10 pounds or $1.00 in change, so he was attempting to charge me $4.00.  I said no, he said yes.  No….yes.   He lamely explained there were no little botles of water available – only big bottles.  I threatened to leave and go to the next stall down the street.  Give me back the 50 pound note.  I will go over there for small bottles of water.  Finally, he/I agreed to one big bottle for 10 pounds, with 40 pounds in change.  What a hassle just to drink some water.

Luis and I went to a restaurant for some fish.  Had a nice salad, bowl of soup full of fish, calamari and shrimp, a canned cold pommegrate drink and brown rice for just under $8.00.

Delicious.

 

 

All Good

Have had two very long non stop days in and around Cairo.  Dinner downtown, the Egyptian Museum, Saqqara…….too many things to list.

Started at 8 AM yesterday,  got home to the hotel at 11:30 PM.  Started at 8 AM today, now 8:45 PM.  Too tired to spend the time or energy to list everything we did.  Will rest up tomorrow, relax, do some research, upload some pics and write several pages.  Took hundreds of pics today.  Wonderful hospitality but traffic is a another story.

Stay tuned.

Allahu Akbar

Or………..Well, I Don’t Think I Will Try That Again……

I have said that many times in my life, and I wonder why I still try doing new things. (The older I get, the more I enjoy fishing).

I said that after bungie jumping off a 280 foot high bridge. And after jumping out of an airplane. And after hiking 45 miles in the Himalayas…..and…and….

Today, I will add riding a camel to the list.

It is not easy. When they stand up – the rear haunches first – then up on the front legs – you think you are going to tumble off head first.  And when they go downhill or stop and lay down – front legs first – then the rear haunches – it scared the living shit out of me.

Here I was, lumbering through the sand around the pyramids, rocking back and forth – about 8 feet above the ground on a camel about 2 feet taller than the ones Abdoula and Luis were on.

The big man gets the big camel.  Sounds like something Trump would say……..

Looking down at the sand I thought repeatedly that if/when I fell off, at least it would be a soft landing after a long fall – as long as my foot did not get caught in the stirrup, which once happened when I fell off a horse. Maybe just a broken arm or leg I thought. But when we went downhill and it was nothing but hard rock, I constantly thought WTF am I doing? I envisioned head injury, internal injury, or worse……

When I heard the camel handler say “Lean back. Lean back” my blood pressure would go up 40 points, and I repeatedly thought about my weight, my age and my flight insurance. Broken bones at a minimum and a long and painful flight home to end my walkabout. Well, I thought, at least I am close to hospitals and the airport.

We boarded the beasts at 8:30 AM and I finally got off that damed thing at 10 AM.

“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar” I murmured softly as I got both my feet back on the sand at the end of the ride – about 100 feet from the Sphinx.

From the web:

Allahu Akbar. The phrase is commonly used by Muslims worldwide and is generally translated as “God is great.” It’s used in many contexts in Muslim societies — during prayer and in the call to prayer, to express amazement or sorrow or to pronounce determination. To most familiar with Islamic practices, the phrase is rather familiar and doesn’t carry an ounce of extremism to it.

Often in Muslim societies, the phrase is used as an alternative to applause, most often in religious settings. Someone will shout, “Takbir,” and the crowd responds, “Allahu akbar.” The phrase blasts from minarets of mosques five times a day in countries where the call to prayer is amplified throughout the streets.

I had met Luis at breakfast.  Hispanic, a naturalized U.S. citizen, living and working in Chicago as a mid level manager and traveling alone. He arrived in Giza last night. His family is from Oaxaca, the only place in Mexico I would return to without hesitation. We talked travel over breakfast and he eagerly accepted the invitation to join me for a camel ride with Abdoula around the pyramids today. When he said “Travel is the best use of my money” I knew we would get along just fine.

Luis has been to New Zealand, England, Costa Rica, Australia, etc.

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Abdoula says “Wave for the camera.  Say cheese”.  I am thinking please take me back to the guest house…….

After the camel ride, we shared a few beers on the rooftop patio and we agreed to have dinner and watch the pyramid light show together tonight.

It is hot today – 104F.

Allahu Akbar.

Namaste.

Wiki says…..

The pyramid necropolis of Khufu was erected at the north-east section of the plateau of Giza. It is possible that the lack of building space, the lack of local limestone quarries and the loosened ground at Dahshur forced Khufu to move north, away from the necropolis of his predecessor Sneferu. Khufu chose the high end of a natural plateau, so that his future pyramid would be widely visible. Khufu decided to call his necropolis Akhet-Khufu (meaning “horizon of Khufu”).[36][37][38][39]

The Great Pyramid has a base measurement of ca. 750 x 750ft (≙ 230.4 x 230.4 m) and today a height of 455.2 ft (≙ 138.8 m). Once it had been 481 ft (≙ 146.5 m) high, but the pyramidion and the limestone casing are completely lost due to stone robbery. The lack of the casing allows a full view to the inner core of the pyramid. It was erected in small steps by more or less roughly hewn blocks of dark limestone. The casing was made of nearly white limestone. The prisms for the casing were finely polished at their displaying site. The complete freshly set casing made the pyramid shimmer in bright natural lime white. The pyramidion could have been covered with electrum, but up to this day there is no archaeological proof for that. The inner corridors and chambers have walls and ceilings made of polished granite, one of the hardest stone known at Khufu’s time. The used mortar was a mixture of gypsum, sand, pulverized limestone and water.[36][37][38]

The monument has its original entrance at the northern side and contains three chambers: at the top, the burial chamber of the king (king’s chamber), in the middle, the statue chamber (erroneously called queen’s chamber), and an unfinished subterranean chamber (underworld chamber) under the foundation of the pyramid. Whilst the burial chamber is identified by its large sarcophagus made of granite, the use of the “queen’s chamber” is still disputed – it might have been the serdab of the Ka-statue of Khufu. The subterranean chamber remains mysterious. It was left unfinished; a tight corridor heading south at the western end of the chamber and an unfinished shaft at the eastern middle might point out that the subterranean chamber was the eldest of the three chambers and that the original building plan contained a simple chamber complex with several rooms and corridors. But for some unknown reasons the works were stopped and two further chambers had been built inside the pyramid. Remarkable is the so-called Great Gallery leading to the king’s chamber: It has a niched ceiling and measures 28.7 ft in height and 151.3 ft in length. The gallery has an important static function, it diverts the weight of the stone masses above the king’s chamber into the surrounding pyramid core.[36][37][38]

Khufu’s pyramid was surrounded by an enclosure wall, each wall 33 ft (≙ 10.1 m) in distance from the pyramid. At the eastern site, directly in front of the pyramid, the mortuary temple was built. Its foundation was made of black basalt, a great part of which is still preserved. Pillars and portals were made of red granite, the ceiling stones made of white limestone. Today nothing is left over from the temple. From the mortuary temple a 0.43 miles long causeway once headed to the valley temple. The valley temple was possibly made of the same stones as the mortuary temple, but since even the foundation is not preserved, the original form and size of the valley temple remain unknown.[36][37][38][39]

At the eastern site lies the East Cemetery of the Khufu-necropolis, containing the mastabas of princes and princesses. Three small satellite pyramids, belonging to the queens Hetepheres (G1-a), Meritites I (G1-b) and possibly Henutsen (G1-c) were erected at the south-east corner of Khufu’s pyramid. Close behind the queen’s pyramids G1-b and G1-c the cult pyramid of Khufu was found in 2005. At the southern site lie some further mastabas and the pits of the funerary boats of Khufu. At the western site lies the West Cemetery, where the highest officials and priests were interred.[36][37][38][39]

Pics???

Nope.  Not yet.  But I took some.

Inet is ~ .1 to .3 MB/second upload speed and the connection drops out after about 30 seconds. It might take minutes to post an entry like this.

With a good connection I could search the web for info to copy and paste and make the blog much more interesting.  It reminds me of the problems I had posting in Myanmar, Nepal and Tibet.

But I had a nice dinner at Abdoula’s home, smoked some apple/tobacco in a hooka, stepped around piles of horse shit – literally, saw how ancient Egyptians made paparyus paper, drank tea, fed the cats my chicken bones after dinner, watched the pyramid light show, played with Abdoula’s grandkids (they were facinated by my ponytail),  met one daughter and 2 sons and had a generally relaxing, social and enjoyable evening.

 

 

When I Met Abdoula

I had walked only 5o feet from my guest house.
He encouraged me to step inside his shop, which primarily sold papyrus paper Egyptian prints, but the store also had some nice perfumed oils. We talked a bit and I was soon offered and accepted my second cup of tea of the morning. I had walked less than a block.

Abdoula, the father of five and 60, has these two large growths on his face and he reminded me of Aaron Neville. He was persistent about me buying some lotus oil or a papyrus print or hiring him as a guide. “Tomorrow, maybe, later. We will see. I will come back.  Let me think about it”.

He was as persistent as I was evasive. I call it the traveler’s dance.

Back and forth, over and over, round and round.

Abdoula was not the owner of the shop, but the cousin of the owner. The owner was Gouda, and when I met Gouda several hours later after walking around, I was more than impressed when – after telling him I was from Oregon – he mentioned the Grateful Dead and said that he was good friends with the late Ken Kesey. If you do not know about Ken, take a few minutes and read a little about him on wiki.

Oh, that guy. I guess I have heard of him.  That was a great movie……..

Gouda gave me black market rates – a 10% premium in my favor – on the exchange of $100 USD to Egyptian pounds – 1 to 9.5 – and then later introduced me to Hassan, who took me 6 blocks through the narrow backstreets and alleys of Giza – by car – dodging potholes, donkey carts and storefronts – to purchase several beers.

I was shown the guest house rooms that Gouda owns above the papyrus shop and they are 3 times more spacious, $10.00 cheaper and have softer mattresses. The rooftop view of the sphinx and the pyramids is unbelievable. I think I will stay here in Giza for a few additional days and enjoy the hospitality of Gouda’s guest house after my four nights are complete at Pyramids View Bed and Breakfast.

Speaking of breakfast, it was a days worth of food. Yogurt, 2 hard boiled eggs, filafals, bread, butter and jam, coffee, cheese, and more. I ate only half of what was presented.

After the beer run with Hassan, I sat in the lobby of the papyrus shop and sucked down a cold one and showed Hassan pictures of salmon and redwoods. When Abdoula returned from the mosque and mid day prayers, we again started the traveler’s dance. Tomorrow – 8 AM, camel ride, tour the pyramids, go inside the great pyramid, etc. etc. “Maybe, we will see, let me think about it”. As a last resort he invited me to have dinner at his home.

Now that was an offer I could not refuse.

So tonight, after watching the pyramid laser show from the rooftop of Gouda’s guest house, I will meet Abdoula at 8 PM and go to his home for dinner.

And, of course, I will go for the camel ride tour of the pyramids with him at 8 AM tomorrow.