Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Change In The Weather

I love winter in Egypt. When my friends in Europe and North America are complaining about weeks of rain and snow, I get to smugly joke about Egypt being the place with no weather. There is a family joke about a weatherman being hired here about every four years or so, coming in to work to announce that it will be sunny and warm, and then leaving until the next one is hired. But yesterday was Egypt's chance to remind us that we can have weather that isn't perfect once in a while. It was hot at 9 am when I was feeding the birds. Hot and still. Odd after days of cool, sunny weather. A friend called me and as we were chatting I noticed that the wind had risen and was blowing off the desert, rather than from the valley. Rats. I warned my caller to close her windows because it looked to be getting dusty.

An hour later visibility was down to about 100 metres and the wind was howling off the desert. My neighbour Morad called me to ask if I could give him a ride towards Giza because his aging Jeep Wrangler wasn't in the mood to work again, and I was happy to oblige since I needed to go into Nazlit Semman to buy some chicken feed and vegetables to bake into the parrot bread that I have to prepare every week. We headed out in my Jeep with the airconditioning set to recirculate inside the car to keep the dust to a minimum. Driving down the road along the canal was hair-raising. The huge eucalyptus trees that line it giving us blesed shade in the summer were creaking and groaning in the wind. One nice branch falling on the Jeep could be more than a massive headache.

I was relieved to be past the eucalyptus when we got to Nazlit Semman, but that didn't stop the trees from being a hazard. As we came out on a road from my chicken feed man, we found a group of men chopping up a huge casuarina that had come down on the edge of the canal. They'd hauled the branches that stretched into the road back onto the sidewalk but traffic was still in a snarl. We had a list of items to pick up at shops for some of our neighbours so we wandered around Nazlit Semman stopping here and there to collect part of our treasure hunt.

Some cheese and yogurt were on the list and Morad recommended a small grocery near the Sphinx. I was amazed to see tourist buses leaving the area. I'd assumed that they would have called it a day long ago and headed back to less dusty areas like hotels. I couldn't resist taking a picture of the Sphinx while waiting for Morad to finish buying things in the store. You could barely make out the huge figure that rests at the base of the Giza Plateau. Figures would sort of stagger out of the brown fog that enveloped the area and make their ways to the few remaining tour buses that were still parked along the road.

The camel and horse men had packed it in long ago. Streets that would usually be filled with tourists on horses and camels were empty. A few of the men sat around empty coffee shops, while most people tried to escape the streets as quickly as possible.As the designated driver I was lucky in that most of the time I was sitting in the car waiting while the errands got run.

The skies gradually grew darker as the day wore on but the wind didn't drop until much later. When I arrived back at the house, Awatif told me that the power had been out most of the day, one of the other trials of these wind storms. Probably a tree down with a power line. This morning the house looked as though Awatif hadn't been in for a week...all her work the day before was for nothing. When the weather here changes, it's rarely for the good.


Leila said...

The strange thing about my 9 months in Cairo, from January to September 1983, is that there really was no khamsin that year. I was all prepared for it (well, I was bracing for it) and it just didn't happen. So I have no experience of what it's like whatsoever. Thanks for filling us in.

And the previous post, mothers of the bride, stayed with me for days. Thank you!

Mia said...

Wow.. great shot of the Sphinx "hiding"!

I can NOT wait to come visit in Sept. It will only be 4 short days there.. any suggestions for a visitor on what they MUST see, other than what is on the obligatory tour?? And what are your thoughts about that large bazaar in Cairo?? Worth going?

mcawi said...

Hi there,

It caught my attention that you are living in Abu-Sir. Have you recently gone to the village?

There is a small one-classroom school just on the main road (that has saqqara country club) called Abu-Sir Gril Firendly School.

It might be interesting to go pay them a visit and see village girls in school.

You could tell us all about it.


Bill Scott, Sr. said...

wow, those pictures are interesting. I live in Oregon where we gets lots of rain....

lenora said...

Love your thoughts, photos and stories. Always a delight when I see a new posting from you. Thanks for sending Egyptian sunshine into my life. Sending you back a drop or two of California sunshine.Just now it happens to be liquid. Lenora

Horus said...


I love your site and the amazing way you view Egypt(my home land). I lived in the US & canada for the past 16 years.. i see Egypt in a totaly different way through your photos. Can you tell me how can i get a piece of land and have a place to live just like yours in Abu-Sir. Again, i wanna thank you so much for your lovely website.

verniciousknids said...

Wow, I love that Sphinx shot. We've had some strong winds in Tokyo recently but none of the accompanying dirt / sand fortunately.

Judith in Umbria said...

I have been reading your blog for some time and I was inspired to think of spending a winter month near Giza next year. Hmmm, can't find a thing but high rise hotels or beach apartments in Alexandria!
Diane Aziz apparently will let me her entire 3 bedroom house by the month, but I don't need that. What to do, what to do?
I did find an unfurnished villa for €1200 a year, so now I am wondering how we get from that to €4000 a month.
Neither is the right thing. I just want a quiet little place and to take riding lessons and escape the cold of Italy. It's too bad there isn't a more organized effort to put out there what surely must exist-- accomodations for normal snowbirds.

Maryanne said...

Judith, check out A neighbour of mine has a lovely adobe farmhouse/stable in the countryside that she runs as a bed and breakfast. It isn't on the sea but the riding lessons are here, since that is what I do for a living. If you want to be by the sea, I don't know of any places with horses unless you go to Sinai. If you're really interested, email me.

Judith in Umbria said...

I didn't really want to go to the sea, but if you Google to find holiday rentals in Egypt, that's what you get. Sharm al Sheik if you say Italy to Egypt, Alex occurs the rest of the time. It just seemed like there should be something to rent for a winter month....
Thanks, I will check that out immediately.

Judith in Umbria said...

Oops, that's the one for $4000 a month! Way out of my budget.

Wonderer said...

Hi Maryanne,

It is my first visit to your site. Thanks for the nice words about Egypt in your introduction. I am really grateful.

When I clicked the "comments" link, I had in mind to ask you to try posting some of the egyptian civilization, not just the countryside. I mean modern buildings, restaurant, coffee-shops, malls... etc cause I felt that the pics in your site is a turn-off for any tourist who wants to visit Egypt.

However, I found people here are interested in what you post!! It seems they like the countryside.

Still, I will be thankful if your try to show the other side of Egypt as the media is always showing as "primitive people riding on the back of animals and living in tents".

Thanks for your cooperation.


julianna said...

Those dust storms can be awful! but yet I think they are so beautiful.. and I miss them! When i was working this past summer in jordan, I would pop my head out from a tomb and watch as the dust swept by. I would sometimes wrap someting around my face and turn around to see my husband had wraped his schmerkh over his nose and mouth, very Lawrence of Arabia :)

judith let me know if you winter in Egypt-- if they don't let our immigration go through and I can scrape it up, I would like to go back to jordan for Christmas and maybe we could see you..

Judith in Umbria said...

I did email you as asked. Hope you got it.

zainab abdulaziz said...

marianne hanem -

just checking in on you and your lovely blog. its good to reconnect with home. to be honest, i came to read what you had posted about daddy. it really is beautiful. love you and miss you, take care my lady.