Selected Travels

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