Friday, October 21, 2005

video honies

4 of my friends from NYC came to visit me in Egypt for 2 weeks. Robin and the 3M's (Marian, Marie, and Maria). Here's a photo montage of our time together.

First, we went to the pyramids for a sunset camel ride. I've never actually done this before with any of my groups. So, I wasn't familiar with the timing and what exactly was involved. Let's just say it wasn't what I expected it to be - we missed the sunset, there was a small sandstorm, and there were crazy Egyptian women with purple-tinted foundation riding horses. I think our facial expressions say it all:

After a day in Cairo, I organized a jeep safari for us out in Bahariya and Farafra oases. This was our jeep and our spokesmodel, Marian:

But before we could continue, I had to take a moment and assess one of Marian's ailments. One of many to come...

Inside our jeep were not only two fabulous Egyptian men (Waheed our guide and Khaled our driver pictured), but also a chandelier apparatus that would light your cigarette for you:

Maria wasn't going to pass up a chance to get in on the chandelier action:

We had a stopover in the Black Desert. We climbed a mountain to get a better view of the area. On top were piles of stones that previous travellers had put together. It's supposed to give you good luck. I stacked one with my father in April and my friends and I stacked another.

PS - Who said black wasn't a functional, desert color?

After the Black Desert, we continued onto the White Desert. It's absolutely beautiful. Over the years, the wind has formed these mushroom-like rock structures.

Luckily Robin isn't a heffer, she could've brought the shroom down with her.

Marian and I riding the chicken. Marian seemed rather at ease with the chicken.

I forgot what we were doing.

Marian captured us on film throughout the trip. At least I'll be able to give my plastic surgeon a reference for how I want to look again.

At night, Waheed and Khaled assembled this fierce living room for us to lounge/eat/drink in.

The next day, we went swimming at a natural hot spring in the Farafra Oasis. There was a jeepload of police watching us the entire time. They looked like clowns crammed into a tiny car at the circus. Marian decided to spice things up a bit and threw a pair of Elmo undies at them. She captured the entire thing on film. Unfortunately, the police weren't very enthused - so they yelled at Waheed. They weren't upset over the panty throwing, just the fact that their picture had been taken. Seriously people, let's pick our battles. Anyway, we knew they'd totally sniff her panties after we left.

Then we went to go chill with these dudes in a date palm garden. The dude smoking the sheesha didn't have undies on.

I'm totally sucking his pipe, while Waheed chills in the background.

Robin likes his pipe, too.

On the way back to Cairo, we had to huff vomit fumes the entire way. I don't understand why everyone in the Middle East has motion sickness issues. Luckily, we had 3 days on the feluccas to look forward to. Here's Marie getting a rubdown from Sabri.

Just a tidbit of info on Sabri. First, I called him Sobri for the entire 3 days by accident. I later found out that Sobri means penis in Arabic. Secondly, in retrospect I thought this to be an appropriate name for him since his junk was totally hanging out of his shorts the entire time. Dude, get some BVDs, it ain't pretty.

I brought a bunch of galabiyyas for us to wear on the felucca. Marian wore her's the entire time, because she totally got into the Nubian spirit. So did her hair, it was a giant dreadlock by the end.

Holding on for our dear lives on the back of the felucca. I'm willing to bet 3:4 of us were pee-ing as this picture was being taken. Marian was having stomach issues, so she was probaby doing #2. Good thing she was at the back.

After the feluccas, we hung out in Luxor for a bit. We went spice shopping one night, and I don't really know what happened. See, the thing about Egyptians is that its really easy to make them smile - which is better than getting angry at them for harassing you every minute of every day as you walk down the street. I managed to convince the guy at this shop that I was from Candyland. And when I'm in Candyland, I stand like a gingerbread man (I demonstrated with my arms and legs spread) and I jump from place to place on gum drops (I got him to jump around the shop with me!). Then he gave us some Peruvian flake and I totally gobbled it up.

In Dahab, the ladies spent a morning diving:

And then that afternoon, we moved onto St. Catherine to climb Mt. Sinai. Our goal was to make it up before sunset, sleep on top, and then walk up for sunrise. Of course, it didn't go as planned. We literally had to Fred Flinstone our car to St. Catherine. Thank god the driver was providing nutrition for Maria in the form of luggies being spat out the front window and then flying in the back window and landing on Maria. It really kept her going. Once we got to the base of the mountain, I had to go through police permissions and Marian and to diarrhea. Marian proceeded to get more sick as we got up the mountain - with poop and puke. Fierce. The sun slowly began to set and we were nowhere near the top and it was getting colder by the second. I proposed that we wait for the moon to rise and walk up under the moonlight (since none of us brought flashlights!). Well, the moon didn't rise quickly enough for us (and when it did, it was only a sliver), so we proceeded to the next guesthouse along the way. We got warmed up, ate some food, and paid the dude to lead us to the top with his flashlight. We did eventually make it up to the top, but it was less-than-peaceful once we got up there. People were constantly stepping on our feet and heads. There's an entire mountain top for the crazy, Korean holy-rollers to sit on, but they wanted our spot. Of course. This is Robin, Marie, and I (showcasing our pita bread) just before sunrise.

Yo gurl, phone home!

Maria (the most religious member of our 5-some) thought she had died and gone to heaven when this Polish group of people held a mass on the mountain just after sunrise. I have to admit, it was an experience. But, what really made it for me was when the priest accidentally knocked over the holy water or wine or whatever they use. And the guy behind him knelt down to pick up the cup, and his foot got stuck in a crack and he couldn't get it out. He kept saying Shit Shit Shit. Once he managed to get his leg free, they pulled out their bottle of Jagermeister and used that for the Holy Communion.

We climbed back down Mt. Sinai and returned to Dahab for some much needed R&R. The ladies got to meet my little Beduoin friend, Mohammed. Mohammed is a total gentleman.

This is Mohammed and his entourage playing backgammon with Marian. Backgammon is the Egyptian game of choice. Right after this picture was taken, I ordered Mo some cornflakes for breakfast (after I had denied his request for french fries). When I wasn't looking, he poured an entire bowl of sugar on top and proceeded to gobble it up. He also spoon-fed some of his gang. See, a total gentleman!

A civilized evening of wine drinking. Look how gorg everyone is. I showed this picture to some of my felucca boyfriends and they told me to put the picture away until after Ramadan.

A good Muslim gurl.

We returned to Cairo at the end of the trip and did some mosque sight-seeing. This is inside the Al Azhar mosque. Marian managed to developed a vicious leg-rash while inside.

Our crew at the Sphinx. I feel we look like an Italian sunglass advert here. Especially Maria with her seductive, boob-enhancing pose and that strategically-wrapped scarf.

working backwards

Today is one of those bad Egyptian days. You know, the days when you sign on in the internet cafe (the carbon-copy internet cafe that has been designed all over the Middle East so that nobody has any privacy - wouldn't want anyone looking at gay porn, now would we?) and the idiot before you set the homepage to fuckportal dot com. Oh no no no, but if course it doesn't stop there. Then come the 50 pop-ups offering you hot sex with horses and panties with a built-in butt-plug. So you're forced to frantically close everything as the two burkah-clad ladies beside you watch in mock-horror.

And then, as you walk down the street, everyone has to shout something in your ear. Welcome! Welcome to my beautiful country! May I help you! You have beautiful hair! What country!

Yeah, I know my locks are flowing like a Pantene girl on horseback. But you don't hear me saying, "No! YOUR hair is beautiful. Reminds me of the Gotti family reality TV show" or "Hey man, why are you and your 5 male buddies holding hands (with interlaced fingers) forming a big 'ol daisy chain as you walk down the street?"

This nonsense usually gets to me once every 10-15 days. If it weren't for Ramadan, I'd totally be having a cocktail.

Oh Ramadan, the month when you're REALLY not supposed to lie, cheat, or steal (or eat or smoke). Yet, with prayer beads in one hand and a cigarette in the other, you're still getting ripped off every corner you turn.

Otherwise. All is well! Egypt isn't so bad, most people are somewhat respectful and willing to listen to me practice Arabic.

Right now I'm on tour with 3 people. I left 8 of them in Cairo and only a few are continuing on to Siwa and Alexandria. It's a shame so few people go out to Siwa, it really is the 2nd best place in Egypt (after the White Desert near Farafra Oasis). But, I guess if more people went to Siwa, it would just be another over-touristed city.

Two of my 3 people are 50-somethings from inner-Australia. Total rednecks. And quite possibly some of the more annoying people I've had on tour. Most of their questions are so stupid that a blank stare is the only answer I can conjure up.

This weeks winners were:

- As I was reading a book on a 100km stretch of land populated with many buildings, while riding in the bus:
HIM: "Hey Eric, what was that building 10km back?"
ME: "Oh! That one! The sheikh's house"

- Riding by some tractors digging at sand:
HIM: "Hey Eric, what are they MINING here?"
ME: "Sand. And lots of it."

- This morning, as rain began to hit the windshield:
HER: "Is that rain?"
ME: "Let me check. Yes, it appears to be water falling from the sky."

- And the usual "What's that?" "What's that?" "What's that?"
Usually, the answer is something like, "A stone shelter" or "A small desert shrub"

What's that old saying? Oh yeah. Ask a stupid question, get an ever stupider answer.

This poster I found on the street in Alexandria sums up today (don't worry - next time I go, I'm totally buying it):

This was our protection at the hotel. At least we know his shielded crotch will be safe from any explosives: