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Saturday, 25 March, 2006

Impressions Of Egypt
(with comments)

This week's country up for discussion is Egypt.

It's slightly more than three times the size of New Mexico, and is the 15th most populous country in the world. It has pyramids and the Great Sphinx.

  1. By will. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @08:34am:
    Worth seeing. Go there.

    Ancient stuff all over the place. Made me wonder whether what we're doing now(buildings, art) will last 2, 3, 4 or 5000 years. The earliest stuff that I saw (&/or touched, walked on) dated back 5000 years. I suspect that the (for example) iPod might have been forgotten by the year 5999.
    Not very expensive. Safe enough these days (easier to take pictures there than in, for example, White Plains, NY).

    I visited the hotel and snuck (with heavy tipping) into the room where Agatha Christie wrote (partially) Death on the Nile. The room was not "spartan" but surprisingly simple. Just one room and a bath. Big & comfortable but not "The Presidential Suite" style

    Spent one New Years in a Nubian village on an island on the Nile some place (not a touristy thing; I knew someone with family there). They (we) danced the night away to traditional and modern music (depending on the mood of the musicians). Adults, kids, camels, goats and pets all took part.
  2. By meg_mac. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @08:44am:
    WILL.... you sure made it sound inviting!! especially the nubian village ! i'd liked to have been there in 69 BC.!! Alexandria would have been magnificent!
  3. By Mean Jean. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @09:12am:
    Mr. Mean, first wife and two kids lived in Cairo for 3 years (back in the early 80's) and really liked it.

    He says one of his fondest memories was of the trees planted along the streets. One street would have all one kind of tree, the next street a different tree, etc. In the spring when they bloomed all each street was a different color. He rode to work on a little moped and the petals would fall on him.

    They brought their pet dog and she was stolen immediately. He hopes it was for re-sale, but suspects it was for food.

    They used to drive out to the pyramids and have picnics.
  4. By ~Q~. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @09:44am:
    Egypt also had a Anwar Sadat, and went backwards several dacades when he was murdered.
  5. By Mean Jean. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @11:12am:
    The Shah of Iran put his children in the same school as Mr. Mean's children. Mr. Mean said it was disconcerting to see armed men standing guard around the school all day and outside certain classrooms.
  6. By Bisbonian. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @11:40am:
    I spent five months just outside of Cairo in 1990. The Egyptians are my favorite people anywhere...outgoing, friendly, funny. They see humor in most things, including themselves. The Cairo museum was amazing...stepping over the dusty piles of 3000 year old stuff to see the 4000 year old stuff! The main downtown marketplace is basically a 4000 year old outdoor mall. Merchants are conversant in Arabic, English, German, French, Italian...and familiar with the daily exchange rate for the many currencies. Incredibly bright folks. Of the 16 million people there, 15 million are standing on the curb trying to get across the street through the insane traffic...looking for a chance to dart across. I kept involuntarily grabbing the dashboard in front of me, and the driver told me, "You should relax...I am a very good driver. And besides, I am very lucky!"
  7. By jaf. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @12:37pm:
    When someone mentions Egypt I think of The Innocents Abroad, Whirling Dervishes, and huge meteorite impact craters - which might be what set the Dervishes to whirling.
  8. By PoohPoohBear. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @12:42pm:
    I think of typhoid and cholera early mid 80's. Now I think of anti western and anti semites.
  9. By major_danny. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @03:42pm:
    Mean Jean, does Mr. Mean ever read this blog? Wondering.
  10. By Mary. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @04:00pm:
    I've worked with professors who spent a good deal of time in Egypt and had only good things to say about it. It's one of the places I'd like very much to visit.

    And Q, you're SO right; I remember when Sadat was assassinated - one of the professors I was working with commented that that day was the end of Egypt. He was a good man.
  11. By Mean Jean. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @04:15pm:
    Yes Mr. Mean reads it every now and then, but he hates to make comments. We have a blog that is supposed to be a joint effort, but I've written about 2,000 entries and he's written 3. The part of this I find kinda strange is that when you're with him in person you can't get him to shut up.
  12. By will. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @07:36pm:
    I didn't find them anti-semitic at all, really. But I was in peoples' homes, at street level, not at the international/political/world level. There was some doubt about the Israeli political policies; but not much issue about Israelis personally. They seemed mostly concerned about peoples' perception of them, the price of bread, how much tea cost, and whether you were enjoying your time in Egypt.

    But, to be fair, I was there with a troupe of artists. And being one of the 3 guys accompanying a group of 25 non-professional belly dancers I might not have had the most typical touristy experience. We met a lot of really ordinary people; who, like most of us, care not a whit for things much beyond their own back yard.
  13. By Juls. Comment posted 25-Mar-2006 @09:43pm:
    I lived in Alexandria for July/August of 2004 and will be spending the summer there again this year. I find myself getting "Egypt-sick" when I realize how unfriendly many American cities are. Egyptians separate American people from American government. Since the presidential election was looming we talked politics a lot and never with any anti-semitic/anti-western overtones. Most people were very supportive of America in general (Egypt receives the 2nd largest amount of foreign aid), but not of Bush. Signs of trouble in the country are all around, though, from unfinished apartment complexes filled with dwellers, to people dashing across the Corniche instead of using the expensive, government installed pedestrian tunnels, money is misspent everywhere.

    During the week I had 5 hours a day of Arabic, but on the weekends we traveled to Cairo, Sharm el Sheikh (very, very Western), Luxor and Aswan. Pics can be found here.
  14. By 12-stringer. Comment posted 26-Mar-2006 @12:09am:
    ...and not a single mention of that Bangles song...
  15. By S_C. Comment posted 26-Mar-2006 @12:54am:
    I visited Egypt on business a few years ago. My company told me that I couldn't drive a car there. I'd have to have a car with a driver (which was really an excellent idea). My first impression was of how crowded the country is. We drove through a small city north of Cairo. Quite crowded and not aesthetically appealing at all. I'd never heard of this small city but learned that its population was 1.5 Million people. Imagine a U.S. city of that size that no one has heard of. A difficult concept there.

    I was told that I should have my driver off the roads after dark. Reason is that the cities are so crowded that many people are homeless. They can't sleep in the fields because of snakes, etc. The pavement retains the heat when the evenings are cool. So they sleep on the road.

    Just goes to prove that you never know who you'll run across in Egypt.
  16. By ~Q~. Comment posted 26-Mar-2006 @09:14am:
    Kudos, 12, for "keepin' it real!"
  17. By Mean Jean. Comment posted 26-Mar-2006 @09:27am:
    all the cops in the donut shops
    waay oh way ooh
  18. By Mean Jean. Comment posted 26-Mar-2006 @09:32am:
    Sorry, couldn't resist. That was mush quais.
  19. By Doug Nelson. Comment posted 27-Mar-2006 @07:44pm:
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