Thursday, June 30, 2005
Fooling Around On A Thursday Afternoon
Egypt is really hot during the day and it's pretty amazing how little you can get done. I was supposed to be taking some friends riding this evening, but they had to be home by 9:30 pm and at 7 pm it was still 30 degrees C...way too hot to ride in the desert. We postponed the ride to Saturday and Tracy and I hung out in the garden instead. I cut some dried sunflower heads for the parrots, pruned some bushes and trimmed some shoots from my white mulberry tree. The parrots also got the mulberry branches since they are a real treat for parrots. Someone told me that the bark and wood of the mulberry have medicinal value to birds. I don't know if it's true, but they certainly love chewing on them. The dogs thought that it was great having everyone home in the garden in the afternoon and they ran about barking at whatever nonsense that was occurring outside the fence or chasing the hoopoes that were mining grubs in the lawn. Morgana, my Great Dane pup, wrestled with Daemon, my last Rat Terrier pup and her boy toy, all over the grass. The two of them are the original odd couple as Morgana grows larger and larger.
As the sun set about 8 pm, the heat finally dropped to bearable levels and a couple of neighbours dropped by to have a cup of tea in the garden. We sat and talked about medieval history, horse training and gardening as the sky darkened above us and the music for tonight's wedding began wafting from the neighbouring village. Every night during the summer there is an engagement, a henna party (local tradition has the women dye their hands with henna just before a wedding) or a wedding in the area. Years ago I was visiting Sudan and one of my husband's enormous family in Khartoum was going to be married in a few days. I was invited to the henna party for his cousin and the family insisted that I try the full henna treatment. The Sudanese paint intricate floral designs all over the bride's feet, hands, legs, and arms. The part that I thought was really nice was the fact that having all of this herbal paste painted all over her hands and feet meant that the bride could not even feed herself for a number of hours while the henna dried and the design set in full strength. Therefore on this day, the bride was waited on hand and foot (pun intended), not even having to feed herself. In the villages here, none of the women can be out of commission that long and most of them simply dye their palms black or red. During wedding season you can find all the little girls sporting red palms.
Unfortunately, one of the other wedding traditions here is the firing of pistols or automatic weapons in the air. My son was horrified to hear that there were guns in the neighbourhood, but weddings are the only things that they are used for. My difficulty with them lies in the fact that my dogs all go rushing out into the garden barking like maniacs when they hear the report of a gun. I can live without that.
By 9:30 pm or so, the neighbours each had to go off to do errands or deal with things, so Tracy and I packed up the tea and cookies and headed into the house. She just arrived from California two days ago and is suffering from major jet lag. We've been joking that her body may be here but her brain has only made it as far as Labrador as yet. She's wanting dinner at breakfast time and breakfast at dinner time, and she falls asleep every couple of hours. I can really sympathise with the falling asleep part. I have no air conditioning and the fan keeps the house at perfecct nap temperature.
We realised this morning that it was the end of the month and I needed to collect some cash from the bank for my grooms' salaries and for my housekeeper, so we grabbed a bottle of cold water from the freezer and headed into Maadi to seek out friendly ATM's. On the way into town, as I was driving along the Mariouteya Road with the canal on my left, I noticed a red VW Beetle come zooming up behind us to pass us on the left. As the car was just behind me and to my left, it suddenly veered severely to the left and sailed off the road into the canal. We screeched to a halt along with all of the other traffic on the road and everyone ran back to make sure that the driver was all right. One of the other drivers had already jumped down into the canal to help the driver out of his car and was assisting him in climbing the bank. The car was rather dinged up in the front, but otherwise man and Beetle looked pretty good considering what they'd just been through. One of the nicest things about Egyptians is that they will almost always stop to help you if you have any sort of accident.
After searching out a variety of ATM's we finally found one whose system wasn't down and which also had cash so that I could pay my grooms and housekeeper. Electrically speaking, today wasn't the best day for ATM's. We then went hunting some minor items that were needed at home and for the horses. A jerry can of disinfectent for washing down floors was requested by the grooms. I needed to find some decently priced rubber thongs, and there were a couple of items from the grocery store. When we finished the errands we were so happy to be home.
Tracy (on the left with our friend Merri) came to Egypt about a year ago last February with the endurance women and, as she puts it, realised that there were things she needed to do here. She explored possibilities for a year then went back to California for her sister's wedding in June. She was amazed at what a great conversation starter "I live in Egypt" is. Everyone wanted to hear about Egypt and how she found living here. Not everyone could understand her decision to come back to work here, but I suspect that we are going to have some more American visitors next winter. That's great from my point of view, since the more people who come to Egypt to visit us, the more will go back to the US and tell others that it's really a lovely place. Especially on a Thursday in the summer.
By the way, many many thanks to Blogger for organising the ability to post a number of pictures in one post. Wow! This is fun.