Monday, July 27, 2015
We made it safely to Akron for the MCC leadership seminar. It has been wonderful already to meet all kinds of people we have met over the years. Many were in town for the Mennonite World Conference. At church this morning we had a chance to talk to all kinds of people. We walked around in the sun this afternoon to help with the time change and even had a chance to connect with Conrad by Skype. Our seminar starts tomorrow morning with breakfast at 7:15 am.
We sure hope we can sleep most of the night tonight.
Our guests hired a guide we recommended to show us Coptic Cairo. We had never been before, so were looking forward to our third day of sight seeing. We started the tour by joining in the last half hour of a church service in one of the oldest churches in Cairo. We were blessed with the priest throwing water at us at the end, and after communion were invited to eat some of the holy bread.
We saw a Jewish synagogue and about five churches, as well as the Coptic Museum. Our guide made it all meaningful.
Everywhere we go, we are reminded that this is one of the holy lands where Jesus walked while he was on earth.
Our guide is pointing out the route that the holy family took while in Egypt. Records of their sojourn go back to about 400 AD.
We are looking at photo collages of the recent Coptic Popes' lives. There have been 108 since St Mark founded the Christian church in Egypt.
We are coming down the steps of the hanging church that was built on top of a Roman tower.
Our final church of the day was the Greek Orthodox Church. It is in the shape of a circle. Our guide dropped us off at home and then we went out for a late lunch at an air conditioned restaurant, because by 3:00 pm we were really hot and hungry.
In the evening we packed our bags for North America and went out for gelati before heading to the airport.
The Egyptian Museum and a felucca ride
Day two we got up fairly early and drove downtown to see the Egyptian Museum. They don't allow cameras inside, so all our pictures had to be taken outside. We are learning more things each time we go, so are becoming better tour guides.
We tried to have a nice quiet ride on a felucca, but there was no wind, so we were towed by another boat for half the time. Finally the wind came and we could sail back in silence.
This strange looking building is king Farouk's old palace. We were sailing on the anniversary of his overthrow in 1952, hence it was a holiday. We aren't sure why the building looks like a dinosaur died on the roof.
In the late afternoon we went to the old part of Cairo to see El Azhar mosque. It is built in a different style than many of the later mosques. There are many pillars supporting a flat roof, so the interior is a bit like being in a forest.
There are a few sky lights with stained glass windows in them.
From the mosque we went on to the Khan El Khalili, the old market where many merchants offered to make our wallets lighter.
We went to a sheesha shop that hasn't been closed in 200 years, called Fishaway. Paul is a real fan of pipe smoking and we had never been, so we had to go. There were people wandering through offering to sell us everything from henna to machine gun style bubble makers, but that just adds to the excitement. We had cold drinks and a good time.
Showing off Giza
Friends from our church back home came to visit us. We started day one with a visit to the pyramids. The pyramids are still a wonder to behold.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Arthur has been wanting a summer suit for a long time. Early on Ayman said he would take Arthur suit shopping, but somehow it never happened till this week. Store hours are a bit different during Ramadan, so we agreed to meet at 9:30 pm to start the proceedings.
We went to a number of shops, but the one that hooked us was Leonard. (A good name in the family).
The clerk admitted that Egypt is not known for its fashion, so showed us the latest suits from Turkey first. As you can see by the men's expressions, choosing a suit is serious business.
We are happy. The choice was made, the adjustments were marked, a shirt and tie were chosen, money changed hands and we were able to pick up the suit the next afternoon.
Now Arthur is ready for any formal occasion.
Sometimes we wonder why we don't have a selfie stick, but we manage without one.
Our friend Siggi came to see us for two days on his way back from Sudan, so we showed him around a bit. It was wonderful to have a friend from Winnipeg share time with us. We enjoyed giving him a glimpse of how we live and where we live.
For some reason Phyllis had the men sit for this photo in front of the Egyptian Museum. The men realized very quickly that the stone was incredibly HOT, and refused to pose for a second shot.
There are four lions like this one guarding one of the bridges over the Nile. We walked over the bridge to get a view of the river and to take the metro back to Heliopolis. Siggi had never been on the Cairo metro and thought it would be interesting. It always is, so we were happy to oblige.
Clever Design Idea (06)
Here's a building demolition we saw the other day. We're not sure how clever it is to demolish the building under you when you are ten stories up, but we wonder how they got two back hoes up there. No crane in sight and no elevator that big. But, these people built the pyramids, so this must be easy for them.
Twins turn One
The birthday girl wore her christening gown for the party, though it fits her differently than it did when she was only a month old. There were a lot of people at the party but she would only cling to mom or dad.
The birthday boy was no more outgoing. These two young people are the reason their father has been tired for the past year. There were illnesses and teething and different schedules to contend with, so short sleeps were the norm. Because we see their father five days a week, we have been getting regular progress reports. Hopefully the future will be easier.
The birthday boy and girl had no idea the party was about them, but the thirty people in the flat were all celebrating this milestone together.
Clever Design Idea (05)
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Here is our 7 day Cairo forecast:
Things to note:
There is very little fluctuation.
No preciptation predicted for any of the days with 14 hours of sunshine for all but one of them.
Usually there is a day or two in the week where the POP is 10% or even as high as 20%, but not in July. We haven't had rain in months and the last time when it did rain, it was just a sprinkle.
All told, the above forecast is pretty good. We are of the mind that anything under 40 is OK with us. We know 40 is hot, but we also know that it can get much higher -- to really hot at this time of year so we are feeling pretty happy with under 40.
Speaking of no fluctuation, take a look at the 14 day forcast. How is that for a flat line?? The evenings seem to be getting progressively warmer which isn't that great for sleeping.
It all depends on what you are doing and how you do it. We still walk to work and get there in OK shape, but by the time we walk back from work we need a shower. We generally have 3 showers a day these days -- morning, after work and before bed. That's 2 less a day then what we took in Sudan in the summer.
On Wednesday we are planning to go to the pyramids. We hope to get an early start because there is absolutely NO shade there -- except what we have under our hats!
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Knitting for My Little Friends
There are 4 kids in my life whom I've been knitting for. Twins,a boy and a girl, here in Egypt who just turned one year old got the "Mr Sun", boy and girl dolls and a pouch with some Ikea stacking cups.
A 4 year old girl who lives in Bosnia "needed" some play food. You can see breakfast (bacon, egg and toast with an apple), a banana and cupcake snack along with supper (spaghetti and meatballs with cauliflower and corn on the cob).
Her brother is a few months old and he got a blue/green ball with two handles which make it easy to grab.
It was fun for me to knit these small projects because the sense of accomplishment comes quickly -- often within a few hours.
Knitting Gets Noticed
Some of the knitting I did while travelling and it was humorous for me to notice cleaners slowing down to see what I was doing as they cleaned the airport, or other passengers trying to figure out what I was knitting. One man asked if I was making a banana and I said, "No, this is corn on the cob. Here is my finished banana." Another time in an airport waiting room a man told me a story about how his wife used to knit but now she is too busy with their kids; he travels a lot. My favorite was when we waiting in Istanbul airport for the second time in about a week and a man stopped walking when he saw me knitting and said, "I saw you here a week ago and your were knitting then too!"
Friday, July 03, 2015
Cold Brew Iced Tea
Cyndy got us onto cold brew iced tea. Up until we talked to her, we had been boiling water, making hot tea, cooling it, adding ice, and then drinking it.
Now we pour filtered water into our jug, add a tea bag of our desired tea (usually mint or vanilla), put it in the fridge overnight and we have wonderful, mild iced tea the next day. Add ice and enjoy!
Now we have an even nicer place to enjoy our refreshments. Our balcony got a new look after we bought some pots for our plants, "made" a tablecloth and recovered our old dusty pillows.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Clever Design Idea (04)
Originally when I started this series of clever design ideas I thought the posts would focus on great Egyptian ideas. However, for this post, I'm going to deviate a bit and show you a great idea of my own.
There were racks of different coloured skirts and I purposely chose this color because it is a very common color found in my surroundings. My thinking is that I can wear it wherever I want, sit where I want and do what I want and it always looks pretty clean.
Bonus: Today at lunch I spilled some lunch on it and an hour later, I can't find the spot.
I bought a long, Cairo-colored skirt.
Bonus: Today at lunch I spilled some lunch on it and an hour later, I can't find the spot.
One of our coworkers returned from a month in the U.S. At his welcome back party we served a carved watermelon.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
The former Greek School
The Orthodox Church was given the former Greek School to renovate and turn into a high quality education facility in Port Said. The bishop would like us to place a volunteer here.
The government is requiring the church to renovate the school according to its original form, as it is a historical building. They have old photos to guide them in the restoration.
All the workmen wanted a photo with the bishop.
The workmen are replacing wood with metal that looks like wood, but should last much longer. These railings are an example. The ornamentation just below the roof tiles is another example of metal being used instead of the former wood.
There are 25 classrooms in the school. The church would like to keep classes down to 25 children per class, but the government would like it to be 50. This defeats the intention of quality instruction for students though. Schools are generally poor, so parents put great pressure on administration to accept their child into a good school, such as this one. We feel for them.
We too landed up in a picture with the bishop.
There is plenty of work that needs to be done before September, but everyone is confident that the school will open this fall.
We stayed at the former Catholic Cathedral, which has now become the Orthodox Cathedral. All foreigners left Port Said in the 60s leaving behind their buildings.
We had a very late lunch at the Bishop's residence and after lunch he showed us the picture of the Virgin Mary which produces oil and perfume with healing powers. The picture has been doing this for 25 years now.
In the morning we took the free ferry across the Suez Canal and went to Port Fouad to see what the Orthodox Church is doing there. There is enough time to get out of the car and take pictures. This picture is taken looking onto the ferry.
From the ferry one of the most impressive buildings to be seen is the old shooting club. People would shoot clay pigeons from the verandah. Not sure what the building is being used for today.
We had breakfast overlooking the canal at St. Mark's Church. The painted ceiling is very impressive. Many scenes from the old and New Testament are depicted there.
The six days of creation are in one arch. Notice the dinosaurs. We've never seen that before.
We then visited a school and after that went to Ste. Marina to see the girl's home, old folks home, care centre for mentally challenged people, and a cheese making shop all on the same premises.
Everywhere we went we were offered cold drinks of various kinds. We had to wait for our tour guide, so had time to relax a bit.
Here is the cheese making room. They have all kinds of equipment, including devices that look like refrigerators that make yogurt. The products are sold in the church shop.
Here is some milk being strained over a sink.
On the ferry ride back the light was better for the Port Fouad side, so here is the most impressive building we left behind.
Reminders that this really is a port. It was odd to be in the same desert country we are growing accustomed to living in, yet to be beside such a large body of water.