The pyramids at night!
Trip Start Aug 20, 2005
15Trip End Jun 2006
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Instad, I ran into Erin from Georgetown and Jenny at the Kanzy welcome party get-together that night, and they were getting together a group to go horse backriding at the Pyramids! So naturally, I couldn't turn something like that down... even if it means a little less sleep... :-)
And just seeing the desert and the Pyramids at night was amazing, breathtaking... The rolling hills of sand, the open desert at night, with the Pyramids rising against a backdrop of the haze and glow of Cairo that blended upwards into the gradients of the night sky, complete with a full (as of last night) moon and a few shining stars... such a serene sight. That book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance definitely had a point abt open spaces being good for the mind.
I was more than a little disconcerted, however, to see a (almost or actually) dead horse tied to a concrete wall as we rode back through the crowded streets of Giza, past many stables, shops, kids running around, ppl smoking sheesha and even an event w/ music and lots of ppl clapping that could've been a wedding, or at least a big party. Some of the horses in the stables there were also VERY emaciated -- the ones that we rode on were even very small, w/ protruding hips that arent even healthy on humans and can't be any better on horses. Even if I consider animal rights a Western-imposed value (my mental jury is still out on this -- since one could argue that animals and their conceived rights should come second in a country where many people face poverty and have serious needs, not to mention myriad human rights issues to contend with ... yet I still feel that, as a bottom line, animals matter, and their well-being matters ... but I don't think that they really have the PETA-inspired concept of animal rights in Egypt, at least not how we in the West see it), I think that the sight of the dead horse demonstrates the underside of the cheap, slightly shady, ride-horses/camels at the Pyramids businesses that run stables in Giza. يعني, all 11 of us got to ride the horses for only $9 US/each. We all think that's such an incredible deal, but I guess there's gotta be a hidden cost somewhere along the line...
Then the other day I had a very fun experience when the cleaning ladies in the hotel came to change the sheets on my bed. One of them found a beauty magazine (Glamour, I think -- my roomate was borrowing it from a friend) on the floor and begins to flip through it, making some comments in Arabic, of which I caught the words "American magazines" and looking at the pictures of the attractive guys in them. So I asked them what they thought of the magazine, speaking in Arabic... And I think I mispronounced like all of the words, but then they corrected me, and we actually talked for a while! The Egyptian cleaning ladies seemed very interested in the US, my family and friends; they wanted to see pictures of my friends, so what followed was a very entertaining time, as I showed them my photo album, trying to describe the pictures in Arabic, and they laughed whenever I mispronounced something in Arabic (which we fairly frequently), and seemed very entertained by my pictures. The picture of my cat Teeny eating food off of a coffee table at home was very funny to them -- since I think that people don't really have pet cats in Egypt, although there are so many that live loose on the streets. So maybe the idea that the cat was eating off of a table in my house was just too funny for them... They were also very interesting in seeing pictures of my family members, and they asked abt things like my family heritage and religion.
They also looked at some of my Arabic homework and my Arabic readings, which for them were very easy, but for me not easy at all... All in all, that afternoon was the most entertainment I've ever had making the bed, and I learned how to pronounce things in Arabic a bit better too (altho the more I learn, the more difficult it seems!). The cleaning ladies were fun, though, so I might go talk to them again the next time they come to make the beds.
Anyway, I'm going to Alexandria tomorrow morning! I'm so excited! I've always wanted to see the Mediterranean Sea! I'm really tired right now, and am a little bit worried that I might get sick for the trip, so I've been drinking Tang (for the Vitamin C) and I bought some knock-off brand tylenol-type thing today, just in case I need it. Apparently the tylenol-type thing I bought is used frequently in Britain, so it should be safe enough... On the medical topic, a bunch of red dots/rash appeared on my back earlier this week, so I went to the medical clinic at AUC and had them check it out. The doctor (who was a woman, noteably) said that it was an allergic reaction to a bug bite, and told me to buy a cream to put on, which I have done. So that seems to be fine for now. The weird thing here is that many people keep getting sick; since all of the friends I have made are international students experiencing the same cultural/food/bodily adjustments as I am, sickness is like a wild card in the social scene. Like I never know when a friend or a person I'm trying to call is sick, and even how sick they are... One friend of mine is in the hospital for kidney stones! Most ppl just get upset stomach/some sort of gastrointestinal bug, though. insha'allah (god willing) that hasn't happened to me yet! But i've gotta get to sleep for now. I'll write more once I get back from Alexandria!