Saturday, April 30, 2005

Ruining a Great Weekend

CountryRide.JPG, originally uploaded by Miloflamingo.
Weekends are my busiest working days. Friday morning I have a lesson ride with the daughter of a friend of mine. Christina boards her old gelding Fares with me and rides whenever she gets the chance. Her older daughter Sara decided recently that she wanted to take up riding again but she didn't want to take lessons in an arena, so her mother offered to let her take them with me in the countryside. I find the trails a good place for people to learn because there is always enough going on around them to distract them from their worries about being on a horse. Sara is doing very well.

Saturday mornings are my favourites. I have another mother and daughter pair that like to come out for 2 to 3 hour rides in the countryside and desert. Today we decided to go for a 'toot' ride, a trip in the farming area where we can have long canters interspersed with stops under the mulberry (known locally as 'toot') trees to harvest the ripe black and white berries. I prefer the black to the white myself, but there is definitely something wonderful about picking fresh fruit from a tree off the back of a horse.

Our ride was lovely, the weather was clear and warm with a cool breeze to moderate it. When we finished, arrangements were made for them to come back tomorrow with yet another generation for a quieter ride among the mulberry trees with Nathalie's 76 year old mother. I'm looking forward to this, since this woman just came back from hiking in Petra, Jordan, where she outmarched both her daughter and granddaughter.

The next item on the list of to-do's was to make a sandwich and take it to my temporary housemate, Tracy, who was painting her new apartment, an airy nest perched on top of a farmer's house with a view of the pyramid of Abu Sir and a grove of mango and orange trees. Her balcony is definitely going to be a gathering point in the coming months but right now the issue is how many coats of paint will it take to cover the tangerine walls in the living room and to tone down the lavender in the bedrooms.

Sandwich delivered, I went back to my paddocks to finish work on a special saddle pad to protect the withers of my new mare. We took an old saddle pad, a foam cushion, the back of a pair of jeans and some velcro tape to the village tailor the other night where he helped us to design a pad to protect her back. Saddle blankets to wash, yacht rope reins to wash, and lemons to deliver to help my poor head groom get over the flu.

By 4:30 we were tired of painting and washing respectively and dragged our weary bodies home only to find that some idiot had decided to drop a homemade bomb and himself off an overpass behind the Egyptian Museum downtown. Why do they have to do these things?

We are in the middle of a holiday weekend here. Tomorrow is the Eastern Easter, that is for the Eastern Orthodox and the Copts. Then Monday is Sham el Nessim, an ancient Egyptian festival of spring time when families head for the countryside or the median of the main roads to spend the day in the open eating onions, boiled eggs, and rotten fish. The fish recipe is ancient and dangerous in that fish is left to ripen for a day and then packed in salt. The ripening gives flavour, or so I'm told, but it also gives botulism a great chance to catch hold. The dish is called Feseekh in case someone offers it to you. If they do, run.

Meanwhile, we will hope that this blows over, although the news that two women attacked a tourist bus in another section of Cairo and at least one of them was killed is making this look like a pretty nasty holiday weekend. However, in case anyone wonders if I feel safe here...yes. I still do.