Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Wishes!

May all your Christmas wishes, be they big...
or small...
come true!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Solstice!

May the return of light to the world be reflected in your own life...
Solstice "Bonfire"
Solstice Sunrise at Karnak Temple

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Amid street clashes, civilians coordinate to rescue rare documents

Piles of books from the Egyptian Scientific Institute were collected on Sheikh Rihan Street after the building was set on fire on 17 December.
The salvage efforts undertaken for the remains of the collection at the Institut d'Égypte are thanks to civilian volunteers who are obviously concerned about their country's heritage. There appears to be no help forthcoming from the military. Indeed, they seem to be placing barriers in the way of these efforts! Read the whole article at
Cover of "Description de l'Egypte - Planches" found on Sheikh Rihan Street after the Egyptian Scientific Institute building caught fire on 17 December.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pablo (and Lucky)

Pablo is a good, solid cat who takes loving care of his mom, Lucky.
Pablo under the palm tree
Lucky and Pablo

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cairo Businesses

I am titling this post "Cairo Businesses", meaning storefronts, to distinguish it from one I will do later called "Cairo Street Vendors".

United Colours of Bention?? Love the tire/wheel in the tree!

Umm! Coffee beans!!
Some great old-style machines here
My favorite: the fez/tarboush shop
COMING UP: Well, I haven't decided yet... So, be surprised!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Al-Azhar Mosque in Islamic Cairo

Today I will try to keep my remarks to a minimum, since the whole point is to share the photos. Today's batch were taken on March 3, 2010. For more information, check out the Wikipedia article on Al-Azhar.
Minarets in three different styles
Wall niche, known as a mihrab, that indicates the Qiblah (Mecca)
Mihrab detail showing the lovely stone "eggs"
Our enthusiastic young guide was very eager to show us this marvelous book from the mosque library. I wish I had a copy!
COMING UP: Cairo Businesses

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Akhmim: Meritamun and the Church of St. Mercurius

The morning after our visit to the two monasteries we hired a taxi and drove (accompanied by our ever-present police escort--R. even had to have a policeman accompany him when he left the hotel to buy cigarettes!) across the Nile to Akhmim, the location of both the statue of Meritamun and the Church of St. Mercurius.

For some more info about the Meritamun statue you can visit: the SCA's page and/or the page on Egyptian Monuments' blog. There's not much information on the Church of St. Mercurius on the Internet, but you might want to read about the saint himself. A book which has some lovely photographs (including one of the ciborium which I did not see!) is The Churches of Egypt: From the Journey of the Holy Family to the Present Day by Gawdat Gabra and Gertrud J.M. van Loon (AUC Press, 2007).
Rogério provides a sense of the scale of the statue!

TOMORROW: Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Deir el-Ahmar and Deir el-Abyad (Red and White Monasteries)

I've been thinking about all the experiences and adventures I've had in my seven seasons in Egypt and how I haven't written about even a third of them. So I'm going to try and share a photo or two a day as a taste of the wonders of this country.

Today, it's the Red and White Monasteries near Sohag. My friend Rogério and I had the chance to visit these two sites at the end of February 2010. For more information try these two Wikipedia articles: the Red Monastery and the White Monastery.
Deir el-Ahmar -- The Red Monastery
Deir el-Abyad -- The White Monastery
TOMORROW: The statue of Meritamun at Ahkmim

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Ozzie at the Window

He's at my office window, desperate to get in to use the library, of course!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In Their Own Words

A good friend of mine from Cairo, an Egyptian, sent me an email describing her voting experience. I found it inspirational and wanted to share it on the blog. When I requested her permission, she responded with enthusiasm. She wrote "I would love to tell the whole world how things went and very proud of it too." So I am doing my small part in bringing her statement to the "whole world"!

"Went to the elections in Heliopolis and on the way to where I was going to vote, seen long lines of people standing in front of the schools where the voting boxes are. When seeing this I was full of pride. On reaching the election place it was so crowd for some where standing even from 7 a.m. although it was to start from 8a.m., also heard that people went after finishing their dawn prayer to stand in lines. It took me about 2 hrs and half to reach my box. But it was wonderful talking with people & joking, I didn't feel the time for I was kind of studying what was going on & everybody was very happy  to come & vote although quite a number was their first time. In the line you could see all different backgrounds standing and anxious to vote. They had women in different places than men and it was fine, did not feel anything against it.There were women from different ages, single & married, in their early pregnancy & at their end, nuns & completely veiled, unveiled women like me & with the normal veil, healthy & very sick, lots of senior citizens and girls reached the age of 18 to vote & taking pictures showing their inked fingers (prove of voting).  It was really  very crowdy & full  from early morning till 7p.m and because of that in some places they had it going till 9p.m. There was no discrimination of any kind at all between the different sectors of people for they were all EGYPTIANS. It was really a wonderful experience and really very proud of it as lot of people are also."

Someone had just written to me that seeing  the long lines with people spending hours waiting to vote was "so sad", that people in the U.S. didn't know how good they've got it. I agree that Americans don't know how good they've got it. But I find this eagerness to vote and to expend untold hours trying to do so inspiring and heartening. If only Americans felt this way about voting! Thank you, Lamia, for this testimonial to the Egyptian people!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lining Up to Vote...

Our conservator Lotfi Hassan was in Cairo over the weekend, spending time with his family and going to vote. He had to stand in line for five and a half hours (in El Tagamoe), during which time he took these photos:
He barely made it to the airport for his flight back to Luxor this evening!

Here in Luxor, our local staff were given a holiday so that they could go vote. I saw the inked fingers of at least two of our kitchen workers. A Cairo friend announced on Facebook that he had voted for the first time in his life!

There is more voting tomorrow in Luxor, with the schedule for the governorates staggered over several weeks.

Here are some photos I took in Luxor over the past couple of weeks showing some of the election posters and banners:
Exciting times in Egypt! Think positive thoughts, please!

New Carpets!

I've moved into a larger room here at CH and so have more floor space. Once everything was unpacked and positioned or stowed away, it became evident that I would need another carpet to accompany the kilim I had bought back in my first season:
This time I wanted a carpet, probably in wool. So on Saturday last, Anaït, Keli (both of whom were interested in purchasing) and I walked over to Aladdin's Hule in the tourist souk. The family who own this shop have been good friends of CH staff for many years. And this is where I purchased the original kilim.

After the formalities of greeting and meeting Badr's young son Patrick and exchanging news were completed to everyone's satisfaction, and after helba tea orders had been placed, we got down to the business of selection. I showed Badr the photo above so that he could search for similar color combinations. Almost immediately he brought out the carpet I eventually bought. While I looked at several others, this was the one that really spoke to me.

The others also viewed carpets, and selected ones that they were interested in. When it came time to settle on the price for mine (I was prepared to pay at least $300 for it) no bargaining was necessary, as Badr quoted an extraordinarily reasonable price well under my limit.

Of course I laid it out as soon as I got back to the house. It was perfect, both in colors and in size. And here it is:
I am one very happy camper!

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Silence...

Those of you who followed my posts in the early days of the revolution may be wondering why I have posted nothing this time around. I am simply too overwhelmed by the awful things which have happened over the past few days. I cannot wrap my mind around the slaughter of a 13-year-old or the image of a soldier dumping the body of a protestor in a garbage heap. I am grateful that Luxor has remained calm so far. And I try to remain hopeful that the elections (Monday in Luxor) will bring about change for the better...

Another Luxor Sunset...

What can I say?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Sunday Stroll

I was able to get away for a stroll around Luxor a couple of weeks ago. The weather has been very cooperative--perhaps it's payback for the horribly hot October and November we had last year. But whatever the reason, I'm grateful for the good walking weather. I processed down the Corniche from the front gate of CH and was intrigued by the work that has been done to turn this part into a pedestrian/caleche thoroughfare. I haven't been down to the lower Corniche yet, but the upper stretch looks pretty good. Still quite a bit of work to be done, but here are some shots:
Can you guess what this is going to be? More later!

Some of the shops along the lower Corniche
Another view of the mysterious installation
Plantings waiting to go in. Love the baby cacti!

Some of the sphinxes uncovered during the excavation of the Avenue of Sphinxes between Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple.

Many have been cobbled together from various bits and pieces (not necessarily from the same sphinx!) with a lot of cement in between. I still find it hard to understand why so many homes and businesses had to be torn down for this result. There are many more complete or almost complete examples in the areas close to the two temples.

And just opposite that sphinx, another door to add to my collection!

Some street scenes, one looking north on the eastern side of the avenue of sphinxes and another looking east along Emilio Hotel Street:

There's a lot of political graffiti around Luxor these days. Here's one sample:
After a congenial visit to Aboudi Bookstore, of course I headed up to The Roof for my first order of their delicious lamb chops. The ritual meal consists of fresh lemon juice, the lamb chops with Egyptian rice and grilled vegetables, all followed up by an apple shisha. And this is the view, particularly wonderful on such a clear day:
Mosque and First Pylon at Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple Colonnade with the sacred mountain in the background

Last picture of the day, a view of the mosque and First Pylon from ground level across the plaza in front of the temple:  
Mosque and First Pylon from ground level across the plaza in front of the temple