Sunday, August 31, 2008
It's hot. It's been hot all summer and I'm ready for a change. This has been a busy summer in a way, not always a good way. It started with the rush of getting away from the farm for two weeks...my first trip out of Egypt since moving here with all the creatures. But my son was graduating from Harvard with an MBA, and you just don't miss that. Impossible. So a whirlwind trip to New York and Boston was undertaken on Egyptair's nonstop flight from Cairo to JFK. The return was amazing as I found myself on a flight that had to be made up of most of the preschool Egyptian children in New York on their way home to spend summer vacation with grandparents in Egypt...Sleep? Not much. I arrived to find an old friend from New Zealand in residence at the farm already and two new friends from California arriving in two days, while my niece, her daughter and a group of high school kids also from California were staying with friends who run an alternative school here. Chaos!
No sooner had everyone departed for their respective home bases than Egypt was hit with equine influenza and we had a 3 week quarantine followed by ten days of sheer misery when the horses were inevitably infected and we spent days hosing down a herd of miserable feverish equids. One of the mules and all of the donkeys came down with the bug as well. The babies and the youngsters (5 year olds) were hardest hit but everyone came through at the end and we all breathed a sigh of relief. I was quite happy that this happened at a time of year when there wouldn't be much demand for riding horses anyway with most tourists avoiding the summer heat and most of my local regulars being away on summer holidays.
So here it is the beginning of September and the first day of Ramadan is tomorrow. This means what for work? Who knows really, but the way things work is that if people rely on drivers to go places, they are not going anywhere much after 3 pm. During Ramadan the traffic is appalling for about 3 hours before iftar, the breaking of the fast, and no one in their right mind goes anywhere then. Businesses and schools close early so that everyone can be home for iftar, hence the traffic. I suspect that weekends will be busier than weekdays and mornings busier than evenings, which is fine with me because I love to saddle up one of the horses and go wander around during iftar listening to the silence of people happily eating.
With the summer heat, I've been hiding indoors during the day doing things like scanning about 25 years of old photographs for the children to be able to have them on cd's. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but finding wonderful shots of my husband playing with the kids, memory shots like the photos taken on our one successful camping trip as grad students (Diaa's idea of camping was the Hilton actually), and millions of pictures of the kids' early trips to Egypt filled a lot of holes in my heart. Troubles tend to hide good memories and it's healing to bring them back to the foreground.
Another job I gave myself was to collect all the blogs that I read from time to time so that other people can enjoy them too. Blogger just brought out a new gadget that automatically updates the blogs so you know from my sidebar when there is a new post. Some of these blogs are written by Egyptian bloggers, some of them are expats writing about their lives here, a few are political, many non-political. There are many more blogs in Arabic but I'm only including the English ones...I can't pretend to be able to read a blog in Arabic. One of the things that I noticed when collecting was that I'm kind of a grandmother among the bloggers, having started in 2003. A blog-fogey if you will.
So if you find yourself not wanting to brave the pre-iftar traffic or just sitting in some non-Ramadan place with quiet time, do explore the blogs. They are ample evidence of the variety and richness of life in Egypt, which pleases me immensely since one of my earliest goals with my blog was to find a way to show the world that richness.
So, to everyone Ramadan Kareem. May the next month be filled with the joy that Egyptians find in this month of fasting and reconnecting with friends and family.
copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani