Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Time Out

Resting in a mosque
Resting in a mosque, originally uploaded by Miloflamingo.
Sometimes the world is simply too much for all of us. I've been feeling rather rotten lately, achey bones, tired, slightly nauseous...could be the flu. But there's no fever and it has been going on for a long time. So I went in to the doctor who ordered up the usual battery of blood, stool, and urine tests. Living in the midst of bacterial reality and sharing my space with a variety of unsanitary beings ranging from chickens through donkeys to tortoises, my personal bet was some sort of intestinal parasite. Logic, right?

The results came back and my doctor, a bright young woman who studied medicine at Boston University Hospital ruled out parasites. She also ruled out sugar, red meat and cheese since my lipid profile wasn't all that it should be. But for the fatigue and generally fragile feeling, she wasn't sure and tomorrow morning I'll have another blood test to see if it is some kind of endocrine problem relating to the adrenal glands. That's really all that I need, since my thyroid died about 21 years ago from an auto-immune disorder, but that event is what she's holding out as evidence that I may be seeing a replay with a different gland. Terrific.

On the other hand, it could just be stress. My first reaction to that was "Impossible! I've reduced the stress in my life enormously over the past year." But on thinking out loud with her, I realised that although I'd reduced it, I still had way too much going on in my life for it to be truly peaceful.

The day before my appointment, for example, I got up early to feed the birds and prepare dog food. Then I picked up a neighbour whose car isn't working so that we could go grocery shopping 20 km away in Maadi. I stocked up on necessary items with special thought to the fact that I had to do my weekly bird bread batch, and I was lucky enough to collect about 10 kg of veal bones, the big heavy leg bones, for the the dogs. When we were through, we dropped by my son's apartment where we picked up three of his friends from New York who were visiting Egypt and leaving the next day.

My son had asked me to do the pyramid and shopping tour with them while he was at work,and seeing as they are all really nice kids, I'd agreed. We piled Don, Annie and Ian into the car and headed for Abu Sir, where groceries and neighbours were unloaded, horses were saddled, and they were taken out on a round of the countryside and desert to see the pyramids of Abu Sir up close and personal. The horses were wonderfully calm, despite the fresh cool breeze that just invited a gallop (these kids were non-riders), and everyone had a great time.

The visitors dismounted with varying degrees of wobbly legs and they were piled into the car again for a dash to Giza where the plateau would close at 4 pm. We had three of the rat terriers in the car with us, which made for an interesting conversation at the gate of the plateau. "Dogs are not allowed here, ma'am." "Yes, I know and they are going to stay in the car." "But why did you bring them then?" "They were just here. It wasn't a decision." So the RT's and I did the tourist guide thing, driving around the plateau as the kids hopped out to gaze, gawk, and take the obligatory pictures against the huge stones.

Once we'd finished the Giza pyramids, we headed back to the house where at 4:30 pm, it was way past time for lunch. Quick sandwiches, birds and dogs fed, and we headed south along the road to Dahshur so that they could see some more unspoiled countryside and then come back through the desert to see the pyramids in Dahshur and around Sakkara. Once it's past four, you can't get into the areas on the road because they close the gates, but if you know the desert and have a decent jeep, that is no obstacle.

The lake was gleaming in the late afternoon sun and was appropriately impressive with pastoral scenes of sheep grazing beside the pools while children played the ubiquitous football on any flat spot they could find. The sun setting behind the Bent and Red pyramids was totally photogenic and the empty sand just invited the jeep. We zipped around the desert stopping for photos, climbing this hill for a look and that butte for the view, making it to the exit from the Country Club just after sunset while we still had enough light to see by.

Now back to Maadi with a pass by a selection of stores for trinket buying (a good two hour procedure) and finally to my son's to drop everyone off. By the time I got home it was after midnight and the bird bread wouldn't get baked until the next day. I fell into bed gratefully.

She's right. I do need to slow down, but there are always so many things to do and some of them are so enticing. So right now the sofa is enticing me and I'm going to take a nap.

The mosque in the photo is the huge one at the Citadel in Cairo that was built by Mohamed Ali in the mid 1800's as a copy of the Grand Mosque in Istanbul (the former Byzantine church of Ayia Sophia). I've always loved the peace of the space inside this mosque.