Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Have A Little Snow In Your Coffee

CairoChristmas.JPG, originally uploaded by Miloflamingo.
Sometimes I meet people who end up adding something special to my life. In this case, a friend of my daughter called me to ask if I could arrange to take some cousins of her friend riding in the countryside. The boys are Egyptians but born and living in Canada and had come to visit friends and family in Egypt, as they do every year. Horseback riding in the pyramids area is a popular activity, but unfortunately for inexperienced riders, the horses are not very well trained. A fun ride in the desert can easily turn into a frightening experience.

I've spent years breeding and training a group of horses that I can trust with very inexperienced riders, so Rana's request was right up my alley. She arrived with the boys, an Egyptian friend and herself the other afternoon and we went out for a couple of hours in the countryside. I always enjoy these rides. No matter how often I see the trails and the people, there is something new to see each time I go out.

The kids had a great time. We started out in lovely afternoon sunshine and came home just as the sun was giving up the ghost. Even the Canadian/Egyptians had to admit that the air gets pretty nippy as the sun sets. The plus for me was that one of the boys, Kareem Shehata, brought along a digital camera and took LOTS of pictures along the route. We downloaded them to my computer when we reached home so that we could see them and we were all delighted with the quality of the shots. Kareem gave me permission to use them for my blog, so some of them will be appearing here. I'd encourage people to visit his website to see more of his work. He is a novice photographer, but I suspect will be doing some very nice things. In the meantime, I have some lovely photos for my blog.

The coffee shop in Maadi is a good example of the eclectic nature of life in Cairo. They serve great latte and expresso along with snacks from local bakeries. You'd almost think that you were in Europe somewhere. So, naturally or unnaturally, the management decided to decorate the outside of the shop for the holiday season with some real Egyptian snow, aka cotton. Goes rather well with the yucca, dracena, and other plants that could only survive indoors if the snow was real. It reminds me of Christmas decorations in Southern California when I was a child.

The same night that we viewed Kareem's photos, I woke up for some reason later and went to my front door to look for my elderly baladi dog. Stella is about 15 and not entirely sure what is going on much of the time. Usually she sleeps indoors on a bed in the living room, but this night she'd used the dog door to go out and sleep on the pillow on the verandah. As she's so old, I get a bit worried when I can't find her where I expect. When I opened the front door and looked out at my verandah and front garden, I experienced a momentary thrill as it looked as though it had snowed during the night. After a moment, reality kicked in again and I realised that what I saw as snow was just the play of light and shadow from a brilliant full moon. The moonlight was so bright that it looked like snow or frost on the tiles.

Now that would have been quite a Christmas thrill, but I don't mind not shovelling the stuff. A safe and happy New Year to all.