Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Watching over Amman

Tuesday 30 March 2010

In Amman, the capital of Jordan.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Classic Petra

Monday 29 March 2010

Our last day at Petra, and here is the classic and most famous shot - the tomb called the Treasury.

I felt like Indiana Jones, being here!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Petra sunset

Sunday 28 March 2010

Luckily, day two at Petra was sunny and warm! Here is the "Urn Tomb," one of the Royal Tombs, at sunset.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Petra in the rain

Saturday 27 March 2010

Ryan and I have arrived in southern Jordan, where we are visiting the ancient city of Petra. Our first day was cold and rainy and miserable, but definitely a rare experience for a desert attraction! You'll have to wait for the classic photo - today was all misty mountains. If you look closely, though, you can see some of the caves that served the Nabatean people as tombs.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Friday 26 March 2010

Our last day in Egypt, and we had a very Egyptian lunch. The two bowls of brownish beans there are fuul, which is stewed fava beans cooked with spices. Filling, cheap, and absolutely delicious. It can be eaten alone or, better yet, with bread. This lunch even came with pickled veggies, some roasted peppers and eggplant, tomatoes, and extra spices. It cost us 3 USD for the two of us, and that was an expensive fuul lunch.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ryan reading

Thursday 25 March 2010

This is the set-up of all the restaurants along the water in Dahab - low cushions, pillows, little tables. It makes for a very relaxing, laid-back atmosphere. Of course, these restaurants are all aimed at tourists and so are much pricier than Ryan and I are used to - we come here and have a beer in the evening, but we eat at the little places a few streets back from the water.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mt. Sinai

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Ryan went diving again today (he's really taking advantage of the gorgeous Red Sea reefs) so I went and climbed Mt. Sinai! It wasn't too hard (although I was glad I didn't have to make the descent carrying two huge stone tablets!) and I had a lot of fun with the group I went with.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dahab sunset

Tuesday 23 March 2010

The desert mountains.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Camel shadow

Monday 22 March 2010

The second day of our trip was spent traveling by camel, rocking across the desert visiting some more beautiful, narrow, colorful canyons. A great trip, overall. (Though I think I will stick to horses from now on - a camel's gait is rather uncomfortable.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Sunday 21 March 2010

Right back out of Dahab today, Ryan and I took off on a two-day desert trip. We spent the day today in a jeep, slipping through the loose sand, stopping off at big vistas, fun dunes, and a few places to make a fire and drink the millions of little glasses of tea that keep Egyptians going.

At the end of the day we walked through a winding canyon to come out onto an oasis in a valley, a little sprouting of improbable green after a day of seeing absolutely nothing but brown. It is a stop-off point for a lot of Bedouins in the area - we spent the night under the stars at one of their temporary camps, a few miles from the oasis.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Saturday 20 March 2010

Back in Dahab.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wailing Wall

Friday 19 March 2010

Ryan and I took a day trip to Israel today, to visit the Dead Sea (coolest swimming experience ever!) and of course the famous sites of Jerusalem.

Here is the Wailing Wall, the Jews' most sacred place. We went on Friday just after sunset, the beginning of the Sabbath, so it was crowded and lively and full of praying and singing and gathering. A very neat experience.

In the background there you can see the Dome of the Rock, one of the holiest places in the Muslim religion. It was interesting spending a day in a place holy to so many people, where the religions just seem all mixed up in all the churches, mosques, and synagogues around.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ryan on the beach

Thursday 18 March 2010

Dahab is a long, skinny town along the beach. As you may have noticed, we're always around the water.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

No camels and horses

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010


Tuesday 16 March 2010

Here we are in Dahab, a small, touristy town on the Red Sea coast.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Desert storm . . . wait

Monday 15 March 2010

Off we go! From Cairo, through the Sinai peninsula, down to Dahab, a small town on the coast of the Red Sea. It was neat going through the bare, sparse desert. (This is actually the most green we saw.) There was even a bit of a dust storm that blew around us for a bit, as you can kinda see in this photo.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Sunday 14 March 2010

Today was our last day in Cairo, and we spent it entirely at Lee's house, getting caught-up and ready for the next leg of our journey. So, I decided to use today to post a photo of the great pyramids at Giza, since I put up a photo of the Sphinx on that day. I don't want you to feel cheated out of the main attraction of Egypt!

Felucca Cruise

Saturday 13 March 2010

Here's our friend Lee, who has been so gracious as to put us up here in Cairo. We took a sunset felucca cruise today with her and some of her coworkers. So peaceful, on the Nile at dusk.

Friday, March 12, 2010

City of the Dead

Friday 12 March 2010

Actually, we aren't sure if this is the cemetery commonly known as the City of the Dead, but it did share that one's defining characteristic: there are tons of people living here.

I didn't get a photo of it, because it felt a bit rude, but there are low-income families who live in the spacious tombs in the cemeteries here, creating a strange village atmosphere. There was laundry hanging out, satellite dishes attached to tombs, children running and playing, even a restaurant and cafe within the graveyard.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Library of Alexandria

Thursday 11 March 2010

Alexandria is only two hours north of Cairo by train, so Ryan and I took a day trip up there today.

And no, it's not that library, but it stands where they believe the old one stood, and they're trying to recreate the spirit of scholarship and openness and all that the old one stood for. Inside are millions of books, rare collections, museums, research centers, a planetarium, conferences, classes, art exhibitions, and all kinds of other academic goodness. The outside is covered with carvings of all the writing systems ever used in human history - cool, huh?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Madrassa Door

Wednesday 10 March 2010

An intricate door to a madrassa, or Islamic school.

Back in Cairo for the day.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Nubian house

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Today was a travel day, so here's a pretty picture of a Nubian house down in Aswan. They are sometimes decorated with all kinds of drawings of animals and flowers and geometric designs, which is neat. This one looks like it was decorated with indigo, which is common down here. You see beautiful bright blue piles of it in all the markets.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Ryan and the Obelisk

Monday 8 March 2010

Here's Ryan taking a picture of the largest obelisk in the world, which was commissioned by Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh I mentioned yesterday. It is in Karnak temple.

These obelisks are fascinating - they are unbelievably big up close. And did you know that they are not embedded in the ground at all, but are rather cut absolutely perfectly, so they rest on a precisely flat bottom and are held up by gravity?

A group of people tried to raise an obelisk a while back, for a television program, using ancient Egyptian methods. They had all the manpower they could want, and still couldn't do it. These ancients are absolutely amazing us, the more we learn about them.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

ShuShu on Hatshepsut

Sunday 7 March 2010

We don't usually take guided tours, but we decided to today, for seeing the valley of the kings and some other temples.

Here is our guide, ShuShu, at the temple of Hatshepsut, one of the only acknowledged female pharaohs. (There are a few others under debate.)

I like the carving in this photo - it is of a trading expedition Hatshepsut financed, and these carvings are the earliest depiction of African tribal life. Can you see the hut on the left there?

You'll notice that ShuShu is wearing a headscarf. Yes, most Egyptian women wear something like this, and yes, we've seen a lot of veiled women. More on this in the email.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Saturday 6 March 2010

Our dinner tonight was a bunch of small dishes called "mezze." It's like tapas, where you eat a bunch of bite-sized salads and sides, and is quite common here in Egypt.

Starting at the white dish in the foreground and going clockwise, we had: soft white cheese with olives, spiced meatballs in a tomato sauce, fried triangles stuffed with meat and veggies, smoked beef with beans (one of the most amazing dishes i've ever eaten), a cold lentil salad, cucumber yogurt salad with mint, baba ganoush (eggplant puree dip), and pan-friend veggies in the middle. All eaten with tons of fresh wheat bread - yum!

Friday, March 05, 2010


Friday 5 March 2010

Still down in Aswan today. Took the ferry over to Elephantine Island to visit the Nubian villages (and get a cool Nubian henna decoration on my hand), and then took one of these boats, a felucca, over to Kitchner Island to visit the botanical gardens.

They are everywhere on the Nile - the most traditional, most peaceful, and cheapest way to travel.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Fatimid Cemetery

Thursday 4 March 2010

Last night we took the overnight train from Cairo down to Aswan, at the southern end of the Nile, and so here we are in the baking heat of what used to be called Nubia.

Today we visited our first Islamic cemetery, which held both modern and very very old tombs. (The modern are the ones low to the ground, the old ones are the raised domes of important imams of yesteryear.)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Agricultural Museum

Wednesday 3 March 2010

A visit to the strange and quirky Agricultural Museum today turned a bit sour when the very low admission price was offset by all the baksheesh we had to pay within the museum.

Okay, I'll try and explain baksheesh without rambling on. It is basically a tip (or sometimes a bribe) you give someone for helping you out. You give it at times we westerners understand, like at a restaurant or to someone who has done a particularly good job. But here in Egypt, you also have to give it when someone does something small, like opens a door for you. For example, in this museum, several "guides" came over, pointed at something, and then asked for baksheesh. And we pretty much have to pay it. This often happens at tourist sites when you are shown something off the beaten path (whether you wanted to see it or not), and sometimes when some guy comes over and says "Canada good!" and then holds out his hand for baksheesh.

We're trying to get used to it (we basically just feel like walking wallets most of the time), to accept it as a cultural phenomenon (even Egyptians have to pay baksheesh all the time), and to figure out exactly when we have to pay and how much. All of these three things are really difficult.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Tuesday 2 March 2010

We saw the Great Pyramids of Giza today . . . and this handsome devil.

Monday, March 01, 2010

View from the minaret

Monday 1 March 2010

A view from halfway up the minaret of the mosque we saw today.

Cairo is a dirty, noisy, crowded, busy, pushy city, but it sure does look nice from up here. It used to be known as "the city of one thousand minarets" and it must have more by now.