Saturday, August 13, 2005

Heat Rashes

When the traffic is so bad that the cab drivers get out of their cars to cool off while they are backed up, it's time to find another way to travel. On the good days this summer, the temperatures are about 35 C or 95 F. Those are the good days. We have a bunch of the bad days coming up over then next few days where the predicted highs are around 40 C which is about 104 F. Today the heat was just starting so I figured that I'd get in some riding time in the morning with a friend. I've been checking out the horses prior to having my clients start back since they've been enjoying some time off, eating lots and getting plenty of rest. Mostly I need to make sure that they are not so frisky and silly as to endanger anyone. So far, everyone has checked out very nicely. Dorika and Bunduq went out to help trim some of the overhanging mulberry trees along the trails last night. They were remarkably calm as branches and twigs came falling down on their heads from the hedge clippers wielded by Ahmed, my head groom, and the pruning shears that I was using. Maybe they were calm because they assumed that we were cutting all these goodies for their enjoyment. The horses love mulberry leaves and fruit. Today we took Nayzak, my 6 yr old gelding out for his first time in about a month. The trail we took seemed to be specially designed for testing him as the fields next to it were draining in ditches filled with running water that had to be jumped every 50 feet or so. When he slipped in one and splashed water all over me and Cristina who was right behind me, it actually felt pretty good.

These hot days are making the Nile Valley's inversion layer even worse than usual. I could see a deep grey cloud over the valley as my plane approached Egypt from the sea on my trip home. We still have an easier time of it at the edge of the desert than people do in the city because of the prevailing winds but you can see from the photo the cloud that covers most of Cairo. I'm very happy not to be living under it. This is the season for allergy medications for the dust and pollution, for cold drinks, cold beer, ice cream and for bridges. Bridges? In Cairo, yes, bridges. Cairenes have a love affair with their bridges. In the summers the bridges over the Nile are crowded with people escaping hot apartments and looking for any bit of fresh air that they can find. By 9:30 or 10 pm there are cars parked all along the sides of the Moneeb Bridge, the newest and broadest bridge over the Nile. One might think that the police would move the cars along, but I've never seen them bothering anyone. Whole families set up picnics on the sidewalk of the bridge, old men go fishing off the side and young couples wander back and forth whispering sweet nothings long into the night. For those who just stop a car and haven't any of the necessary equipment, there are men who rent out plastic chairs, sell lupini beans soaked in salt water (termiss), make tea and coffee, rent out fishing poles. I can understand the fascination with the bridges. The Nile is a wonderful river and I could watch it flow forever.

Rivers are extraordinary creatures. I hope that we never lose them through our human stupidity. People seem to do their best to lose them. We have a mystery island in the Nile near Maadi. It was built by someone, planted with trees and grass and remains unclaimed due to the public outcry over the lack of wisdom of blocking the flow of the Nile with this new object. Someday we will find out whose "brilliant" idea it was and hopefully he/she will be crucified.

Meanwhile, if you have any really good mangos, here's a great heat beater. Take two fresh mangos, 200 gr of nonfat yogurt, and about 10 ice cubes. Put the mango into the blender with the yogurt, and ice and blend. However, for this to be really, really good, you need really, really fresh mangos right off the tree. It doesn't hurt for them to be the wonderful sweet/tart mangos like the ones that I'm currently scarfing down for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A mango smoothie is a real treat, or you can do like my neighbours did while I was gone. Pick about 20 mangos from the tree, wash them in the faucet and dig in while sitting on the grass in the shade. This way when the juice dribbles off your chin and down your arms, you don't have to worry about getting furniture sticky. And when you are all done, lie back and groan with happiness.


Joan said...

Those mango's sound delicious. I bought some at our supermarket a few weeks ago because I had never tried them before. I was so disappointed, they tasted like gasoline or something..phewwie, I guess they don't travel too well!!

Joan said...

OOps sorry about the the picture, I forgot I had that on my blog..OMG..

Cassie said...

im really interested in your African Adventures and are thinking f traveling there for the summer to go to school what is it like and how is the culture? am i in for some shock of the life time or any advise would be helpful!!!!

Maryanne said...

Take some time and read other parts of my blog. You may get an idea of how weird or entrancing Cairo can be. There are a lot of foreign students studying here each summer, so at least you will have some company in your bewilderment. Most of the students I've known have had a wonderful time.