Monday, January 21, 2008

There is water falling from the sky

While in Cairo we decide to take the train down to Aswan and then hire a felucca and sail up the Nile for a few days. This trip is better with some friends so we head down with Terje our Norwegian couchsurfing host who decided to skip the first month of school to come see the world with us. (We must be the best house guests ever!!!) We recruit two super cool American lads, Matt from Texas and Doug from Tennessee along with Luke an Australian living in England.

We gather on the first day of the trip, (There is also a whole story about how we got screwed over here and threw a fit, but I wont go into that) at the docks, board our little boat and meet our two man crew; Captain Cool and his first mate Fatty.


We sail up the river. All is calm and well although it is a bit cold, we snuggle down on the mattress lined deck and blankets which will in a few hours become our bed under the stars. It is in the back of all our minds that the stars might not be too great tonight since it seems a bit cloudy. We enjoy the company of the other felluca guests, our books and our journals.

Terje lost in his book, Matt looking on and Robin contemplating his newest book characters

The boat docks, a fire on the beach is enjoyed by all and sleep time rolls around. Fatty, who does most of the work on the boat, cleans up dinner. To do so he washes our dishes in the river water. We all chose not to think about the problems this may cause our intestines in the future. To protect us and the sleeping deck from the wind and the cold he puts up a windscreen and a roof, both made of bedsheets. The bed sheet that was our roof had two small strange mice like cartoon characters and the saying "Hello Brother's. We wish you both much happiness together" Some thought provoking words and images to fall asleep to, since the starts were not visible though the thick clouds.

Our boat

The first drops of rain were felt around 2:30 am. Even in our half awake states we knew that the Hello Brother's would not keep us dry. We tried to wake up Captain Cool in his small room below deck. He would not have it, "It has not rained here in 10 years" Was his only response, if some how by stating that fact would stop the water from falling from the sky. It did not and the rain came harder. Matt, in an attempt to save his down sleeping bag, was the first to make a move and join our valiant captain below decks. Peter, myself, Treje, Luke, and Marco (from Italy) soon followed carrying all the blankets we could save. The room would sleep two people in semi comfort, 7 was pushing it. There were still 7 people on deck who could not fit and they took shelter in a nearby boat which thankfully had a tin roof. It rained all morning. The remaining blankets, the mattresses and pillows covering the deck and most of our bags under became soaked. Since they had not seen rain for 10 years Captain Cool and Fatty were not prepared for it. Captain Cool stayed below and was soon snoring, not a drop hit is face. It was Fatty who tried to save everything and make sure that all had shelter. When the rain stopped we sailed up river a bit and docked for some drying off. All the blankets and mattress were hung in trees along the river and the wind and sun made quick work of it. We calculated the odds of being out in that rain storm were 1 in 3652. Lucky us! The remainder of the trip was calm sailing, and consisted of intellectual conversations, history lessons from Robin, rum drinking and dreaming.

Friday, January 4, 2008


"The pyramids are overrated, trash filled and overrun by modernity"
- Peter Maksimow, January 4, 2008

The Pyramids of Giza are the last remaining wonder of the ancient world. You hear about them from a young age, read books and see PBS documentaries about them. Some of us even get to teach about them, the pyramids being one subject that students actually get excited about. Some how in real life, they are just not that great...I hate to say it.

So from down town Talaat Harb Square, the center of Cairo, you take bus 357 to Giza. Tickets run you 2 LE, or 36 cents. The trip takes about 20 min.

So easy! So close! This should have made us worried not excited.
Our vision of the pyramids is that they are dropped down in the vastness of the desert, when in reality due to the need for more housing the city has been silently creeping up. And now BAM! you can get a great view of wonder #7 from the Pizza Hut window.

Yes, they were large. When you walked into the complex and stood with the city to your back, it did seem as though you were lost in the desert. But this vision was soon cut short by some kid, who should be in school in my opinion but that is another story, tries to force you to buy a crappy pyramid statue. Or the antiquity guard who freely tells you he is open to letting you cross the velvet gates and touch the ancient stones, for a price. Or even worse your eyes are not focused on the greatness in front of you, but are distracted by the pyramids of trash forming all around you. Maybe that is how they got built!!!!

The spinx keeping an eye on Cairo

But I digress. Even though they disappointed us on some level, I guess we went to see them simply because they are still there. We went, we saw...took some pictures, said hi to the Spinx and took bus 357 back to the city.