Saturday, March 21, 2009

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.


Lynn said...

YAY! I am l glad you went ahead and posted even though it was taking you longer with pictures. I LOVE it! It's all so fascinating to see and read.

I hope you are okay now after your fall. That did sound very painful!

And I hope you get your car back soon. YIKES! I hate to think how worse it could of been driving over a rock like that!

What is your floors made of? I bet they wouldn't be carpet or hardwood, eh? All that sand coming in would scratch it, no?

on the edge said...

WOWWOWOWOWOWOW !!! What a trip ! Great pictures . No wonder you stay so young and fit , all that activity !Take care , OTE