Selected Travels

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Here is a video of our diving put together by our friend Megan Highfield.  Video footage by Rick from Scuba Nomads.

Egyptian Protests

I just wanted to comment here in this public forum about the Egyptian protests....the Egyptian people are still working towards creating a democracy.  As we know from American History, this is a struggle.  President Morsi at one point claimed control of all branches of government in an Emergy Decree and then backed away a bit.  Generally speaking, the Muslim Brotherhood supporters are in favor of Morsi's actions.  Other Egyptians are not in support of Morsi- thus marching to the Presidential Palace and Tahrir Square protesting.  On Dec. 15th and 22nd, the country gets to vote to radify the conservative constitution that the largely Islamic constitutional assembly wrote.  One of the biggest points of contention in the constitution is a greater role for Shari'a Law- the religious law of Islam.  Many people are advocating to abstain from the vote, as voting legitimates Morsi's action.
Egytians are a very proud and passionate people.
(photo taken by Walther Hetzer)

Are we safe?- I know this is a question on many people's mind- YES!  The major protests are happening very far from our house and school.  We live in an area of Cairo called Maadi.  The constitutional court (like the Supreme Court) is located in Maadi.  There have been very small non-violent sit ins outside the court.  Chris and I are reading and following the Embassy's advice and being conservative with our tourist activities. 

2 Trips- Red Sea and White Desert

Well, this proves that we are REALLY bad at blogging!  For the past two and a half months we have done two major things (other than teach)...

Diving in the Red Sea- three trips
Amazing blue water that is so clear you can see the reef and your dive route from the boat.
Yes, you can have a camel ride on the beach...

We did some great snorkeling too!  (Chris is secretly a "mer-man".)

Desert Camping- White Desert with Bedoquins
Justine organized a trip for 20 teacher friends to camp out in the Black and White Desert with Sarafi Oasis guide- Ahmed Abd Elsayd Gaber (
Packing up the 5 jeeps.

Sand art!

The dunes were fun to play on.

Sleeping in a Bedoquin 3 sided tent.

Amazing food was cooked for us in the desert.

An oasis!

The group with the huge beautiful rock formations made from the ocean millions of years ago.

Hiking- feeling like my old Colorado self again!

Spectaular photo Chris took!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

 Nearly one month into the new chapter of our life which is set in Egypt...
We have begun working at the American International School of Egypt- West.  Our co-workers are fantastic and the children are lively and excited to learn.  They speak English nicely with strong accents that took a while to get use to.  We both started wtih completely empty classrooms and now they are filled with supplies and students!  Yeah, we are off and running.  Sadly, this dampens our adventures but we have one adventure to report...

We went horseback riding in Giza by the pyramids.  Giza is a town where livestock, horses, donkies and camels out number the cars!  It is like going back in time to old Cairo.  There was lots of trash- we are going to explore Garbage City soon and we will learn more about this issue.  There is trash everywhere, not just Giza...
There is a process to the garbage collecting, it seems it goes like this:
1. Garbage is put on street
2. Animals (dogs, cats, pigeions, weasels, etc.) eat what they can
3. People come and take out the recycling (like cardboard, paper, glass and plastic)
4. The rest just blows somewhere else and/or gets ground up and becomes part of the sandy landscape
Here are some photos and videos of our horseback ride!

Here is another video a friend put together from our horseback riding.  It is really cute.

Signing off,  Chris and Justine

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hello Family, Friends, Students

While Cairo is still a very exciting city and we will remain tourists for quite some time, the reality of work and living is starting to set in. We are becoming residents. Our neighborhood, Maadi Degla, is one of the best neighborhoods in all of Cairo according to many that we talk to. It is comfortable, with many shops, restaurants and cafes within walking distance. The streets are lined with trees and it is quiet (for Cairo, of course it is still quite noisy compared to Ridgway). It is a pretty major adjustment for us switching to a bustling city as opposed to a quaint mountain town. It has been fascinating seeing all of the history and culture that the city has to offer. Of course we have only scratched the surface. Since the last post we have made it to:

Khan El Khalili- An ancient bazaar, selling just about anything you need, that dates back to the 1300s. Being that we stood out in the crowd, the merchants were quick to yell out to us, “how can I take your money” “this papyrus is very special, very ancient, I have a good price for you” “your wife is worth one million camels” and on and on. It was exhausting and entertaining all at once. We wondered around until we stumbled upon a quieter stretch of street that actually contained come mosques dating back to 1000 CE (AD). 

                                                    Shisha Pipes- It is an Egyptian custom
                                                                          to smoke flavored tobacco.

                                                                Ancient City Streets

Horseback Riding near the pyramids. Amazing, started our ride at dusk and made our way through a village. Was a bit difficult at first, seeing quite a bit of poverty, poorly taken care of animals and lots of trash. However once past the village we moved into the desert sands. By this time it was dark. We rounded a corner and all of the sudden the great pyramid were in site. Words don’t describe this very well. The full expanse of history unfolds between you looking out across the desert sands with the bright lights of modern Cairo in the distance and the knowledge of these 4,500 year old monuments to early civilization. It is truly a once in a lifetime moment. Sorry no pictures, it was dark and they did not come out well.

Al Azhar Park- The premier outdoor park in all of Cairo. Had a lovely dinner, people watched and saw a beautiful sunset (enhanced by the pollution that is ever present during the Cairo summer). 

Coptic Cairo- An area of Cairo that contains some ancient Churches and supposedly a crypt where the holy family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus stayed during their flight to Egypt. The Egyptian population is estimated to be 10% Coptic Christian with the remaining 90% being Islamic. 


The Egyptian National Museum- The Museum is incredible. Once again the weight of history is enormous when you walk into this museum. 136,000 pieces of ancient Egyptian history are on display. From the Tutankhamen material, to the mummies, to all manner of chariots, jewelry, sarcophaguses, stone sculpture and everything else you picture when you picture ancient Egypt. We only scratched the surface in our visit. Of course we saw the mummy room, not sure how to describe seeing the body of a 4,000 year old pharaoh. The tut display is impressive with all of the craftsmanship and gold work. Again sorry no pictures, cameras were not allowed in. Check out this website if you are interested.

Tahrir Square- no protests were happening so we were safe. It was interesting to see the graffiti and think how fresh the sentiments of revolution are. We have heard snippets of political talk, and like any country there is wide political leanings. It is still too early for us to tell what the general feeling of the country is. My initial thought is that most people are hopeful for a better future. We have felt safe everywhere we have gone, except maybe on some of our taxi rides, the driving here is terrible. We are excited to get to know the country better, yet grounded enough to know there will be bumps in the road. For instance Justine is currently laid up with travelers tummy. We are pretty sure it was something other that the Koshery we had for lunch. Koshery one of the national dishes of Egypt, it is a peasant food rich in carbohydrates and proteins. It cost me and Justine $3 American dollars for 2 bowls of Koshery, 2 7ups, and a rice/milk pudding dessert (just for me sadly, no milk for Justine). Very tasty. Anyone who has traveled knows that upset tummies are part of the game, I am sure Justine will bounce back soon. 



Our students show up on Monday morning, so a new adventure begins. Hope all is well with you.

Take care,

Chris and Justine   

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Felucca ride down the Nile.  Actually we just cruised up and down a 1/4 mile stretch, but the sunset and Koshery (traditional Egyptian peasant dish made of pasta, chickpeas, lentils and sauce) was nice.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

This first week has been wonderful (and a bit overwhelming too!) could Cairo not be overwhelming though?!?!?
Here is a brief list of what we have done in 4 days:
Apartment hunted
Moved in- we will post photos soon...
Visited Saqqara (ancient step pyramid...more later)
Took a Fellucca ride down the Nile
Ate yummy food
Got technology hooked up
Wandered neighborhood lost- looking for our new home (with 7 bags of "stuff")
Met 25 of our colleagues

So, the Fellucca was so calming. Our school's director scheduled it so that we can all let our housing worries float away down the Nile as we relax and watch the sunset. There are photos posted below. The Fellucca is a sailboat. We had Kosary (a type of Egyptian "take out")...yum!

The next day we went to Saqqara- ancient (2000 BCE) site that includes many tombs, pyramids and other remnants of the civilization.  Many mind boggling things to look at as you hear, "Madame, want to buy....?"  while strangers pick up your husband (Chris) and put him on a donkey and dress him in a head scarf!  The people want money for this fine opportunity of being man-handled and dressed up...amazing and funny too!! 

 Our day ended with a brief visit to an art community where 60 years a man moved to the outskirts of Cairo and taught 40 locals how to weave, batik and do pottery.  Today this site is a UNESCO site for architecture.

These past four days have been busy, hot, sweaty and terrifically exciting and challenging....but as we sit here in our apartment, which with share with nocturnal and speedy ants...we KNOW that we made a great choice of coming to Cairo and working for AIS-West!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Well, after 6 months of "talk"...we are finally here!!! Cairo is definately different from home! Everything went as planned with our arrival- the flights were good and the school picked us up and transported our luggage. There were about 10 people from the school helping the 17 new teachers. It was great!
We are in a hotel for the next few days. The hotel is really nice and has a fancy with a pool that makes you think you are in the carribean! BUT Justine can't find her swimsuit yet, she thinks it is barried in the luggage we packed a month ago.
The school administrators are SO super friendly and helpful and genuinly excited to have us here. Most of our new collegues are cool.
We found an apartment today. It is under buget and clean. The first apartment we looked at had a super moldy frige and washing machine. We were really worried they would all be like that. We tried to keep positive and the next apartment was better, not great....kinda stale smelling. They were also 2000 square feet! Then we said we only wanted to look at 2 bedrooms apartments around 1000 square feet and then looked at a beautiful apartment NICELY firnised and SUPER clean with granite counter tops and VERY expensive....then we finally got to a good apartment...2 bedrooms, "American" style kitchen and live-able. We have a few colleagues in the neighborhood (Maadi) and are only a 3-5 minute walk from the teacher-bus-stop.
So far the food has been good---have not ventured from the hotel to eat though. We have a staff faluka (sail boat) ride down the Nile planned for Thursday. We have also seen the pyramids from the plane and three times by car already! The Nile has lush green banks that stretch for about 1 mile either side with palm trees and other plants growing too. Maadi (our neighborhood) is in that mile...the school is NOT! Outside that mile stretch is just sand. Garbage is kinda scattered everywhere as are mango/fruit/veggie vendors...traffic is not as crazy as India or China and most of the vehicles on the road are cars or van/buses...very few mopeds and three wheelers.
Hope all is well wiht you all in the states.  Take care,
Chris and Justine

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hello Family, Friends, and Students

We are busy with closing out the school year at Ridgway,  as well as, preparing for our transition to Egypt.  Excited for a nice summer before taking off to new adventures.  The school we will be working for has been nice enough to set up a google group of new and current staff, so that we can ask questions about our transition.  It will be quite the change.  We are already trying to figure out transportation issues, how we will manage our banking between two different countries, and the reliability of internet (since my graduate school is online this is important for me).  Lots still to do.  Here are some pictures of the school.

Take Care,  Chris and Justine.