Sunday, March 29, 2009

Got up today around 6 - had the last of my strawberries -SIGH - and then had breakfast - went for a walk with Suzanne around 8:00 - on the way home we stopped at the phone company - wanted to pay the phone bill - but they refused to take my money because the due date is not until April 1 - first time in my life that a company refused to take money because it was early - just gotta love Egypt.

Came home and did a bit of work in the rose garden - arms look like I tangled with a cat - but I am slowly working my way through it - although will lkely run into a problem once I get to the sweetpea jungle - as I cannot see what is under there - so I will wait until it is finished and then root around in there. I am busy pruning the roses bushes - likely the wrong time to be doing it - but tough - it is the only way I can get at the weeds - by wacking down the roses. I should have taken a picture of the garden before I started so one could see the improvement - oh well - next time. Still have not run across any black worms that are coming from my garden.

Had my shower and sat outside and read a bit. Did some hand sewing on my new wrap dresses. The dressmaker used my snaps - but I have found that the fabric that the snaps is on needs to be reinforced so I was busy reinforcing all of them - have a couple more snaps on one of the dresses - then just two more and I will be done - love make work projects. Put sunscreen on - but still got some colour - so I am going to have to be a lot more careful - obviously the sun is getting stronger - like I didn't already know that - but ....

Made myself a taco salad for my lunch - have lots of romaine lettuce - got 3 heads of it last Tuesday for the princely sum of 1 LE - that is about 20 cents. Really great price - but there is only so much lettuce this one person can eat - but I am working my way through it.

Not a lot more to report - chatting with mom online now - then I will likely head to bed early - must admit getting up so early makes for early nights.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

This is a shot down the market street in Mahmodaya.

Wonderful fresh strawberries - in the foreground to the right are tomatoes.

Another shot of the street that the fresh produce market is on.

Can you smell them - they were to die for - I bought 2kg of them for 5 LE (about $1 CAN).

They were some of the best strawberries I have had this season - fresh from the farm.

Wednesday I took my car in to Toyota to be fixed before the insurance runs out. Had planned on staying until they had finished with the estimate and the insurance adjuster had shown up - but I was told that they would likely start work on the car the next day - so I took a taxi home - cost 35LE - a lot of money - but the only way to get a taxi is to call one - you cannot get a 'local' taxi where the Toyota workshop is - if you want one of them you have to walk quite a ways - then it would be 25 LE - so I splurged. Must admit I was not happy leaving the car behind - but not much choice in the matter. Got a call on Thursday saying that the estimate came in at 9700 LE - OUCH - and that the insurance company agreed to pay for it - bet they will not renew my policy - not that I can afford it anyhow - but .... so will be without the car for at most 3 weeks. Will have to adjust my thought processes in that time - as I am planning on selling the car once it is fixed - so I can get my money and run. One of the engineers figures I should be able to get between 70,000 and 72,000 LE for it - I paid 88,000 LE for it - very different than in Canada. Used cars do not lose their value nearly as quickly here as they do in Canada.
Thursday spent the morning cleaning the kitchen - took me two hours - did a really really thorough job. Then Sharon came over for a visit and we sat outside on the balcony - was a wonderful day - sunny, bit of a breeze and quite warm. Working on my tan before I cannot stand to sit outside because it will be too hot and humid. Managed to water the plants while we were enjoying the weather. Sharon left and Suzanne came up - people were complaining because some water escaped and ended up on their 'furniture'. An upholstery place has opened up in one of the shops that is on the main floor of the apartment building and they keep most of the furniture on the sidewalk or the road - SIGH. And I was also told that one of the apartments below me is complaining that there are big black worms in her apartment and they are from my garden - now this I find very strange as I have dug in the dirt in the garden and have not run across any worms let alone big black ones - and wouldn't you think that if they were going to enter a home they would enter mine as it is much closer than crawling up the wall and then down the wall to the window - very strange.
Friday was a quiet day in the neighbourhood - weather was windy and cloudy with a bit of sun just for variety. And of course it rained - and I had watered the day before - SIGH.

I had a hankering for some peanut butter cookies - so I made some - restrained myself - was planning on a double batch - but settled for a single batch - more than I need - but what they hey.

Mawada came and spent some time with me - not sure what the deal was - but she asked if she could come and spend time on the balcony - not a good day - as she got rained on - but she brought her school books and studied inside once she got rained on. I picked some of the sweetpeas for her. She stayed for a little over 3 hours - I read after I finished baking the cookies.

Today I dragged my carcass out of bed and went for a walk - opted not to wait for Suzanne - I enjoy going with her - but she goes too late for my liking - I hit the road around 7 and was back shortly after 8. Was very windy - had to work even harder because I had to battle the wind. I stopped on the 10th floor and took the stairs to the 14th - not that my body appreciates it in the least - but such is life. Got home and Suzanne had called around 7:45 - and by the time I called her she could not go out - will call her tonight to see if she is wanting to walk tomorrow - sure hope she can get out and about early enough - must admit I get a lot more done if I am back from my walk earlier.
After I got home from my walk I lifted some weights for my arms - YAY. Then I had breakfast, had a shower (now this may not seem like much of an accomplishment - but there are days I do not get around to having one until I go to bed), made my bed, did 3 loads of laundry, chatted with Aymn (talk about a waste of time - but I cleaned up the computer desk - tidied up the papers that were littering the top and also cleaned it - what a muddy mess), made some pastry, and then made some cinnamon rolls - used baking powder biscuit instead of a yeast dough - takes less time and I like it just as much. Sharon came over for a visit and helped me to eat a few of them.

Made supper and that was my day. Such a thrilling life I lead - NOT.
Pictures of my cinnamon buns - with raisins and pecans.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Weather here has matched my mood - overcast with bits of sun and lots of rain. Last night we had another thunderstorm - I think this has been the most thunderstorms I have seen since I moved here - quite impressive - if you like thunderstorms that is - if not not so great.

Yesterday I got up bright and early and went outside and swept up more of the balcony - got more than 1/2 of it done - and now with the wind and rain it will look like I have not touched it in months - SIGH. I did take a couple of pictures of the awesome bunch of sweet peas that are taking over part of the rose garden.

Ta da - there - three photos of my 'sweet pea' patch.

Today woke up to more rain - it is now sunny - so no idea what will happen for the rest of the day. I am heading out to Mohmodaya - thought Suzanne and I would be going - but Gehan and Mom are also coming along - so I will be the driver. Must admit that when the three of them get together I feel very much like an outsider as they spend all their time talking - in Arabic of course - and I just drive. And most times I am able to deal with it - but right now I am feeling rather 'fragile' and not sure how I will cope - but somehow I will manage to get through this day.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Today was a mish mash - did a little bit of a lot.

Got up bright and early - had my fruit - chatted with my mom - means she can have a leisurely Sunday breakfast without rushing to meet me in the morning - my evening. It sure is great to be able to keep in touch this way - the blessings of the internet. Chatted with Aymn for a bit as well. Still no idea when he will be back - it was five days, then four, now no idea.

Did two loads of laundry - had a third in the washer when I headed out to pick up Sharon to head to Carrefour and Fathalla - also took Suzanne with us. Did not buy a lot - but got a few things that I needed/wanted.

Got home around 12:30 - got home - and finished the 3rd load of laundry - my quilt. Sat outside for a bit - enjoying the sun. Caught a 10 minute snooze. Got up and actually did some gardening - did a bit of weeding and wacked at the rose bushes - likely not the right time - but they need to be pruned desperately - and no way do I want Aymn going at them. One of the volunteer sweet peas has really run amok - was working near it - sure does smell nice - reminds me of spring in Canada. Will take a pic of the monster bush tomorrow.

Came in and made my bed - had washed the bed linens. Put away the groceries that need refrigerating or freezing.

Then went outside again and swept up part of the balcony - I could have quite the beach if I wanted to - but I just throw the sand out - do not think it is good enough for the garden. Now I need to throw out the garbage from the garden. I am sure that when I go out tomorrow the balcony will look as if I did not touch it - but I know I did some of it. Certainly is a challenge to keep up with it - a challenge I do not manage to keep.

And that was my day in a nutshell - such a thrilling day I had - can hardly stand the excitement. LOL.
This is what The Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit has to say about the Monastery at St. Anthony:

Hidden away in the barren cliffs of the Eastern desert, the fortified religious community of St. Anthony's represented the beginning of the Christian monastic tradition. Built in the4th century AD by the disciples of St. Anthony, the walled village at the foot of the Gebel al-Galala al Quibliya is the largest of the Coptic monasteries.

This founding monastic order sprang up around the son of a merchant who had given up his worldly possessions to devote his life to God. Anthony actually retreated into the desert, in about 294AD, to escape the disciples he had attracted to his hermit's cave by the Nile. While his followers adopted an austere communal life at the foot of the mountain, Anthony took himself off to a cave, high above the developing monastery village, where he lived to the ripe old age of 105.

Despite is isolation, the monastery suffered Bedouin raids in the 8th and 9th centuries, attacks from irate Muslims in the 11th century and a 15th century revolt by bloodthirsty servants that resulted in the massacre of the monks.

Following the example set by St. Anthony, St. Paul and their followers 16 centuries ago, the 25 monks and five novices who live at St. Anthony's today have dedicated their lives to poverty, chastity, obedience and prayer.

St. Anthony's has several churches, chapels, dormitories, a guesthouse, bakery, vegetable garden and a spring. The oldest part of the monastery is the Church of St. Anthony, built over the saint's tomb.

If you're hiking from the main road make sure you're properly equipped, especially with water, as it's a long, hot and dry walk. If you do get this far you should also hike up to the Cave of St. Anthony, which is north-east of the monastery. the medieval graffiti on the walls is fascinating and there is a breathtaking view of the hills and valley below.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Shock of all shocks - two posts in one day. This will be a short one.

Got up this morning and did some laundry and had breakfast. Went for a walk with Suzanne - something we have been doing for a week - left around 8:30 - got back just before 10 - and horror of all horrors there was no power - so not only did we have to walk up the stairs but there was no light - and let me tell you - it was pitch black. There are NO windows in the stairwell. Around the 10th floor - which is where Suzanne lives - it started to get brighter - light from the rooftop made it down 5 flights. So for the last four flights at least I was not doing it blind. Rested for 10 minutes and then headed down - Suzanne wanted to go and get some fateera for Shereen to take with her on her flight - and the bakery she wanted to go to was quite away away - so I said I would go with her - big mistake. Lots of goodies - and reasonably priced. I bought two 'little' fateera - the size of a salad plate. I also bought some coconut macaroons and some other goodies - hard to describe them - my favourite though tastes a lot like pastry -thicker though - and has black sesame seeds on it - very good plain -but with strawberry jam - excellent. When I got home from the bakery - the power was back on and the elevator was working - thank goodness.

Got my laundry hung up to dry and another load washing. Had a shower - sure did need one - I was soooo sweaty.

Sharon came over for a wee visit and then I vegged in front of the TV - cannot quite figure out why I am so tired - I just hope I can get out of bed tomorrow. I am now heading to bed and it is 9:11 p.m.
Must admit that getting this post ready has been tough - have had no blog initiative. I took lots of pictures and I think that is what is slowing me down - but finally here I am.

The drive to Ain Sokhna was uneventful - the drive through Cairo was a breeze - hardly any traffic. A few roadblocks - but we did not get stopped. Arrived in Sokhna around noon - not bad time. We stopped and filled up once just before we left Alex and then in Cairo I topped it off - wind was bad and I was pretty sure we could make it - but did not want to take any chances. Along the Cairo - Sokhna road the wind was really bad - was fighting to keep the car on the road - good workout for my arms - I guess. For lunch I prepared the bruschetta that I forgot to bring - had made a list - but still forgot it - figured out that one has to look at the list for it to be truly effective - we had not gone far when I realized I had forgotten it - so I turned around and came home and got it. I managed to spill some on Sharon - if I had tried I could not have done such a great job.
Saturday we walked around Margaret's place - saw the pool. For those that do not want to venture to the beach.

A picture taken from Margaret's back yard - part of the golf course.

Picture of the pool closest to Margaret's place.

On Sunday we headed to the beach - I had not realized when we made the plans that it was a long weekend - so the beach was 'crowded' - not really - but there were certainly more people than I expected. Did not get into the water - had not planned on staying - just wanted to go for a quick look see - so was not really dressed for the occasion - did stick my foot into it - was not bad - but no one else would have gone in with me because it was tooo cold.

Water did not look very inviting - day was windy and overcast - still a lot of sand blowing.

Monday Sharon and I drove around the complex after taking a drive to the 'local' supermarket - kind of like a 7-11 - without the slurpees - we were sent to get hamburger buns - but they did not have any bread in the store - guess they were waiting for the delivery. There are certainly some fancy vacation homes in this place - obviously there are some people that have a lot of money.

Tuesday we drove to Zafarana - had seen the signs and was always curious - went online and found that not far from Zafarana were a couple of Coptic Monasteries. We made our way to St. Timoty's - it was very interesting. Unfortunately we arrived about 1/2 way through the tour. And they take you to the souvenir store prior to the tour - thank goodness the tour monk allowed us late comers to peruse the store after - and I bought a book- must admit the prices were certainly high - they had them marked in US dollars and the exchange rate was outrageous - so I limited myself to the one book - figured it would help to know what I had looked at. While on the tour I managed to be oh so graceful and fall over a raised block - went down backwards - as I was stepping back to try to take a picture of the belfry - managed to hit my right elbow - still lets me know that it did not appreciate my hi jinx. I was very grateful that I was wearing pants under my cover dress - or it would have been even more embarrassing. This monastery was the first monastery in Egypt - started around 400 AD. This Monastery is located out in the middle of the desert - very isolated. 15 km off the main road. In the old days it was a fortress with no door or gate to be opened. You gained entrance by an 'elevator'. They were protecting themselves from the bedouins -who still can be found in the area. Their only water source is from within the 'mountain' - it produces 100 m3 of water a day - and has done every day since the monastery was started.

Tough to see - but the monastery is at the bottom of them thar mountains.

Picture of the newest 'church' not yet finished.

Artwork found at the entrance to the monastery.

This is why Antony opted to hang his hat here - he found an 'oasis' - which of course meant water.

The palm trees and the 'garden'. Looks like they produce a few things to eat - not a lot though.

One of the doors to a 'cell'.

Hard to see - but this is in the oldest 'chapel' which is over the burial site of St. Antony. No flashes allowed.

This is their source of water - has been in use since the monastery was started - around 400 AD.

Here is the 'elevator' - the photo above shows the 'trap' door and the beams used to raise the car.

And this is the 'motor' of the elevator.

This is some of the stonework that surrounds one of the churches - looks to be under renovation - we could not enter it.

The entrance to the Church of the Cross and the Resurrection.

Picture of the sea taken on our way back to Sokhna - around Zafarana.

Wednesday we headed back to Alex - and it was a very expensive trip. I got caught speeding - and the ticket was 150 LE - I need to learn how much a bribe is and how to give it - or not speed. On the desert road they have parts of the road that they are working on. The desert road is for the most part an 8 lane divided highway - but where they are working on it it is down to four lanes - with no division and the speed is posted at 8o - well I did not see the need for going that slow and I paid for it. Then once we hit Alex I hit one of those beloved rocks that people leave on the road when they are having car/truck trouble to ensure that people move over to give them enough room to work on their vehicle - but of course they do not bother moving the rocks when the move - and I hit one square on as I could not move over to miss it because the 2 laned road had 4 lanes of cars - OUCH. Thank goodness two men risked life and limb and ran across traffic and changed the tire for me - I can change the tire - but I had no idea how to get the spare out from under the back of the van - now I know. But now I need a whole new tire as the rim has been destroyed - tire is likely fine. SIGH - just love driving here.

Traffic in Cairo - around the pyramids.

More traffic - notice the motorbike, the bicycle and the donkey cart - as well as the other motorized vehicles.

And of course the ever present camel. Just around the pyramids do we find camels and horses. But carts pulled by donkeys and horses are all over the city.

And here a horse is being given a bath - in the same water that dishes are washed in.

Weather took a turn again once we got back home - winter reared its ugly head - more wind - my place looks like a beach - so much sand in it and there is not nearly as much as there used to be because of the new windows. Wind was bad for a couple of nights - had to pull up my quilt Thursday night got that chilly again. Wind really picked up Thursday night - was woken by windows banging in the wind and when I finally dragged myself out of bed to investigate - the one door onto the balcony had blown open - so much for my vacuuming. Oh well gives me something to do.

This past Thursday I dragged Sharon along with me and we headed downtown (manshaya) to file a claim report on my car insurance - while I still have it. Parked the car in a parking garage - on the second level - have been to this place numerous times - and have yet to find stairs - so you have to walk down the ramp. Got to the office and realized I likely would need my driver's license and the car registration - both of which reside in the car - met with Bassem and sure enough - got the claim filled out - of course it was in Arabic - so Bassem had to translate it for me - then headed back to the car - up the ramp. Then down the ramp again - to give the needed paperwork to Bassem - he had it photocopied - I now need to make an appointment at Toyota for the insurance assessor and Toyota to go over the car. Bassem asked if I had filed a police report - because if the damage is over 5,000 LE a report is to be claimed. Told him that no I had not filed a report - because not one of the dents or dings was over 5,000 LE - but cumulatively it would be over 5,000 LE to get it fixed - asked him if he owned a car - he said yes - I asked him if when he parked it it got damaged - of course - told him that is why my car needs repairs - not because of one accident - but because of a year of being parked and hit - and driving over a rock. He said an exception would be made -right. If I had my car in the shop every time it was damaged while it was parked it would live at Toyota. Now I need to phone Toyota and make an appointment and let Bassem know when I will be taking the car in. Not looking forward to not having my car - but such is life.

After we finished with the insurance and I caught my breath we went 'shopping' at Trish's place. Trish and her husband Don are leaving Egypt - his contract was not renewed and they have had very little time to prepare. I had phoned Trish on Wednesday and asked her if she had any chocolate chips or bacon - she said yes - I said please keep them for me I will be there tomorrow to buy them. Got to her place - no chocolate chips no bacon - she had sold them to someone else - thank goodness the person who purchased them does not want the bacon - as she is Muslim - so I will buy that - was expensive - not sure it was worth it - but hey I had said I would buy it - so I felt obligated. Must admit the pricing was really weird. Foodstuffs were very expensive - but they had lots of alcohol and it was a steal. Bottles of wine were going for 15 LE - less than $3.00 - hard liquor was 20 LE - yet the bacon was 50 LE for 2 pounds. I also succumbed and bought some Italian sausage - for 25 LE - from the States - cooked it as soon as I got home - boiled it in water and then fried it - made mashed potatoes to go with - SOOOOO good. Wish she had more of the sausage - I would buy it all - well worth the price. The apartment they are in is HUGE. Makes mine look teeny weeny. And they are not at all ready to move - the movers will be in on Monday to pack it up - they are storing the stuff they are keeping until they know for sure where they will be headed. Trish is a really nice person - but a bit of an airhead - not at all organized - a true southern belle - and she is from the southern states - so it fits. I also managed to score some Mary Kay - not what I need - but a set of Satin Hands and some more body scrub and body gel - got it for a good price - so I guess it evens out the price of the bacon.

Sharon bought some of the wine, a bottle of creme de menthe and six cans of beer. By the time we left there was not much booze left. If I was but a drinker - there would have been even less left.

Yesterday morning I got up and made bread - I had no more in my freezer - so made a double batch. First time I set the yeast to work it did not and I was afraid I was hooped - had finished the yeast I brought back from Canada and was using some I had bought here - tried it again - and it worked - I am assuming the water was too hot first time round - but I am so glad that the yeast worked. Made 29 'pieces' of bread - Aymn called and asked me what I had been doing - told him I had just finished making bread - he asked me how much I made - told him 29 pieces - asked my why so much - told him because it lasts - and it does - put it in the freezer right away - still a bit warm - and then warm it up on top of the gas range and it is just like fresh. And he keeps saying he is coming back - which means the consumption may go up - if he is here at all.

In the afternoon I went over to my mother in laws place - everyone had gathered as Shereen is heading back to Qatar today (Saturday). She is heading back very happy - while she was here in Egypt they went for fertility treatments and she is pregnant - with twins - one of each - so she gets it all done and over with in one go. Aymn's kids were there - and of course I was invisible - not even Ahmed acknowledged my presence - which surprised me as he is quite quick to chat with me online - oh well. I left around 7:30 - said my good bye's to Shereen. I have included a pic or two of her friend Nurmeen's daughter Kinsey (which means precious in Arabic). She is a real sweety - but tied to Mama - will not go to anyone else - although she did warm up to some of the kids. Boggles my mind to watch the older kids 'fight' over the little one - like she is a toy. Oh well. I bought my mother in law some leb (pumpkin seeds) - she is very fond of them and does not buy them for herself - and today is Mother's Day - so as I have no idea what to get her - that is what she got.

And here is Nurmeen and Kinsey.

I think that is the last two weeks rolled up in one report. Now I get to upload pictures. Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Yesterday (Wednesday) saw Sharon and I shopping at Carrefour and Fathalla. After we finished shopping we had a bite to eat and then we went to see a movie - The Tale of Despereaux. It was all right - but not one of my favourites. Aymn called while we were out and he said he will not be back for at least another week - I figure it will be closer to two weeks. Told him I was heading to Ain Sokhna on Friday and would appreciate getting my 'allowance' - guess what - I have not heard from him today - so do not think I will be getting my allowance until after he is back. I am not all that surprised - but I am tired of his empty promises. After the last time he promised that he would NEVER leave me short again - and I thought to myself - yep - until next time. Did not have long to wait.

Last night I went out with Suzanne and bought myself a new shower head - was tired of the trickle that was forthcoming from the old one - works better - but I still have problems getting the heat of the water adjusted - I either freeze or fry - ARGH. Also bought some more karkadee - just about out.

Today I woke up early to chat with my mom as I was unable to chat with her very long last night as I had a date with Suzanne - but of course my internet did not cooperate. I was very busy today - did two loads of laundry, made whole wheat pita's, baked buttertart squares (Margaret requested these), made banana loaf last night, made bruschetta and popcorn for in the car. Even managed to get the dishes all done up. I even managed to water the garden - since I am leaving tomorrow and will not be back until Wednesday - the garden should be watered before I get back - but such is life - will have to go without. Now all I need to do is pack and I want to take some of the stuff downstairs tonight so I do not have to pack so much tomorrow morning. We will be heading out at 7 a.m. - hoping to miss the bulk of the traffic in Cairo - since we will hit Cairo before prayers and it is usually pretty quiet on Friday until after prayers.

Do not think I will be posting while I am away - but will certainly be taking my camera - so hope to have some pics to post next week when I get back.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Yesterday was a wonderful day - not quite - but hey I am working on it. The weather was fantastic - spent time outside reading and sitting in the sun - my tan is coming along quite nicely - the front of me anyhow - the back of me is still pastey white - do not have a lounger - and laying on the 'ground' - concrete topped with ceramic tile - is a tad hard on the body - besides getting down is easy enough but getting back up now that is another story altogether. I had made hamburger patties the night before - so I invited Sharon over and I fired up the barbecue and we had homemade barbecued hamburgers with all the fixings - was a bag girl and made homemade chips as well.

Only drawback was that my water pump did not work - ARGH. I really do not like not having water. It was not all that bad - I had water - a trickle - but no hot water - now that is not good. Dishes piled up - because unlike the locals I just CANNOT wash my dishes in cold water. Phoned Suzanne around 11 in the morning and she said that Mahmood would get someone when he got home from school - finally at 8:30 p.m. Aymn called the plumber and around 9 he showed up - do not know what the problem was - but it did not cost me anything to have it working again - good thing as it was the same guy that I paid 20 LE to to fix it 1.5 weeks ago. Still cycles occasionally - which bothers me as I do not think it is 'good' for the pump - but the plumber disagrees. So finally at 9:30 p.m. I had hot water again - YEAH - could have a shower - must admit I do not like going without my showers. While we were out in the sun I watered the potted plants - the 'garden' did not yet need it and besides it would have taken me hours with the trickle of water to get it wet. I will water again on Thursday - as I am leaving on Friday to Ain Sokhna for a few days.

Today Sharon and I are going shopping for our trip to Sokhna - she is joining me on this trek - actually it is because of her that we are going - she has never been and as she is heading stateside soon Margaret wanted her to come for a visit. While we are out shopping we may take in a movie - we shall see.

Wish I could take a picture of the wonderful weather we are having - and yes I know - 'spring' here is very shortlived and very soon we will be complaining about the heat - but I am enjoying the weather we have now.

And to top it off my mom has activated my new VISA card - so watch out - shop shop shop. LOL. Not really - but I am glad to have it and have it ready to go.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Just for you I had quite an adventurous day today (Monday - could not post yesterday as my internet was being temperamental). Sharon and I went to club and as usual parking was at a premium - in fact worse than usual as they are building an apartment building in the same block as AWA - so I parked in my 'normal' spot - and when we got back to the car it was booted. I did not freak out - tried to call Aymn - but he was not in a service area - phoned Suzanne and hung up before she picked up. Went to a shop on the street where the car was and asked where I had to go to make arrangements to free my car. They told me Sidi Gabr - so Sharon and I caught a taxi and went to the police station in Sidi Gabr - to find out that I needed the Traffic Police in Sidi Gabr - about half way to where the car was. An older gentleman came with us to the right place - and they asked for my license and registration - both of which were in the car - so they wanted me to go back to the car and bring the papers with me -there was a young man there whose English was very good - so he let them know that I was not keen on all this trekking back and forth - and he and a police officer (who had the 'key' to unlock my car) came with us in the taxi - wish I could have taken a pic - but picture this - a little Lada car - and they are small - with 3 guys sitting in the front - the driver - the doctor (who was our translator) and the police officer. We got back to the car and the officer took the boot off in exchange for the license and registration. We put the boot in the trunk of the car and headed off to the doctor's car - he was about 5 minutes from where I was parked - we dropped he and the officer off at his booted car - and headed back to the police station. Got the boot out of the car and they asked where it had been - told them on my car - they then wanted to know where the officer was - told them he was on his way back. And he and the doctor showed up quite promptly. I paid the 75LE find - signed my name - and they wanted to know if I could sign in Arabic - told them no as I do not even speak Arabic let alone read and/or write it. Anyhow - after I got my change and I was told that I was finished and could leave - I thanked them - I was smiling and laughing the whole time - they were very surprised. Most people are not at all happy - but hey they were doing their job - and I should not have parked where I did - minor detail that I had parked there twice and had no problem - oh well - life is an adventure. I am so proud of myself that I got myself out of the mess with no help from anyone and I did not lose my cool either.

My car with her new jewellery on - SIGH.

After we finished with this adventure we went to San Stefano Mall for lunch - we missed the 'gang' but we had lunch - then wandered over to Metro (a grocery store that carries a lot of western products - but is very pricey) to see if they had any marshmallows and some tea that Sharon is looking for - but they did not have either. I bought some hamburger buns - took hamburger out of the freezer this morning - will season it and barbecue it tomorrow. Also bought some caraway tea - one of the women from AWA said that she drinks it to alleviate heartburn - Aymn frequently suffers from heartburn - and I have never tried it - so ... just bought a small box.

Made it back home in one piece - and when I got to my door an envelope from my mom was resting on the door knob - she had sent me my new VISA card - so glad it arrived safely. Now just need to get her to activate it and let me know what my PIN is. Not that I think I will need the PIN here - but I gather when I get back to Canada I will.

Weather has much improved - was quite sunny all day and not very windy at all. So I am hoping that winter has finished. Time will tell.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

WOW, WOW, WOW. Weather here has been something else. Went to bed 'early' on Friday night - around 10:00 and at 11:30 was awakened by windows blowing open and banging around. Holy moly - the bathroom window had blown open and things had been blown around - so I tried to close it - only problem is that Aymn broke the latch off and said he would fix it - still waiting - so I stuffed an empty toilet paper roll in it and it stayed closed. Then windows in a couple of the other rooms were banging around - so I got them all closed - closed the shutters as well - went back to bed. Just got to sleep and some of windows were banging around again - ARGH. And sounded as if the satellite dishes on the roof were going to be ripped off. Before I had to bed there was some fantastic lightning and thunder.

Yesterday was another miserable day - lots of rain and the wind - YUCK. Would not mind the rain if the wind would just disappear - at least I do not have to water the garden - LOL. Spent yesterday trying to stay warm - was not very successful. Was wishing I could move one of my easy chairs into my bedroom where I had the heater going and the room was warm. Last night there was one booming thunderstorm that passed through - at least with the wind it did not hang around long - but sure made one take attention - it was right overhead and caused everything to rattle. LOVED it - good thing that electrical storms no longer terrify me. I can remember as a little kid hiding in my bedroom with my head under the pillow as the rest of my family stood at the kitchen window watching a thunderstorm roll through. Weather was bad enough I opted to turn off my computer before I went to bed.

Today woke up to some sun - but it is going away - wind is back and is blowing in another bad weather front. Wonder how long this is going to last.

This is a picture of my 'bowab' with a friend of his - Ahmed (bowab) is standing. He is responsible for keeping the building clean, taking out the garbage, getting things maintained (water tank and elevator for starters). He also keeps my car clean - sort of.

This is a picture of one of many rabikya men (he takes things that are broken).

This fellow is selling an assortment of veggies and fruit. They go up and down the streets and some women send down a basket from their balcony or window and he fills the basket with the goods and she pulls it back up.

Just to give you an idea of how fun driving is - these carts are all over the place - on the main streets, the highways - everywhere. Bad enough you have to deal with motor vehicles - but these guys are even worse - as they do not have mirrors or anything - and they seem to think they own the roads - very annoying to those of us that know WE do.