Inolvidable Cairo

A compilation of tales, thoughts and images from the never-ending adventures...Click on any of the images for a blown-up version. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


One thing that has been great about our time in Cairo is the many visitors that have come. While we can't put all the pictures up, here are a few of our favorites.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Gena in Egypt? Posted by Hello

Monday, May 02, 2005

Little Kamilla likes it too! Posted by Hello

The Busbees floating on the Nile... Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Hey!!! That's my camel! Posted by Hello

Kelly and I mummy-hunting... Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Syrian Negotiations

Perhaps the most delightful trip we have taken in the entire region was the week that we spent in Syria. Despite the misconception that we had about Syria before going, we found the place to be fantastically beautiful, filled with genuinely friendly people, with some of the world's greatest cultural and historical monuments, fantastic food and nice weather.

We spent time in the world heritage centers of Damascus and Aleppo, as well as in one smaller town, Hama. Everywhere we went our expectations were exceeded, either by the pastoral beauty of Hama, the art deco chic of Aleppo, or the astounding cultural and architectural wealth of Damascus. We could write a separate blog on each of these visits.

One quality that never wavered in our visit was the genuineness of the people whom we met. We also had a shopping assignment, and this lead to a full day's odyssey with a local Damascan wood worker, self-titled "The King of Mosaic". Abu Hasan was building mosaic inlaid wood furniture and knick knacks from a factory that his father had bought from a wood-worker more than 20 years earlier.

There's a picture of Abu Hasan below with me as well as the original owner of the factory who sold it to Abu Hasan's father and who happened to have returned for a visit the day we were negotiating our shopping basket... By the way, all negotiations took place in Arabic, and this was very interesting....

Friday, April 29, 2005

Business...Middle Eastern style... Posted by Hello

Friday, April 01, 2005

We have a wadi...

In the year that we have spent here, we have loved Egypt. The people are friendly, love to smile and laugh, and keep a great sense of humor about the travails of life in what one author calls "the world's largest up-turned ashtray".

One of our favorite activities is mountain-biking in a canyon that is nearby to our house, named Wadi Digla. Correction, this is Brian's favorite activity and Genia lovingly tolerates it... There are more than 60 miles of trails with beautiful vistas and fantastic panoramas. It is amazing to believe that so close to the edge of all the chaos that is Cairo, there is this fantastically beautiful and peaceful retreat with gobs of fresh air. It makes things not just tolerable, but delightful...

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Another Saturday in the Wadi Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Angola...That's not in the Middle East...

Brian took about 6 weeks in the early Spring for an assignment in Angola.

Although I had been there approximately six months before, I was impressed with the feeling of progress that I observed in the capital city. There was a bit more "livability" to the place, and I felt that was a sign of optimism.

After ruthless colonization which only ended in 1975, the Angolans suffered 27 years of civil war, ending only in 2002. In terms of progress, from the levels of devastation that this country is trying to rebound, it is possible to believe that six months of peace time can go a long way to reversing the ravages of civil war, and I felt that I was experiencing that and was glad to be part of it.

Then I visited the province which was essentially the front line for the decades-long conflict. I visited Kuito for one week, and it was like being on the set of the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy". The city was destroyed, but in a manner very much unlike most of all the modern conflicts of the 20th century. Since neither group had any heavy artillery, they simply spent years firing on each other with Kalashnikovs, and entire buildings (essentially the entire town, as the front line simply shuffled back and forth across the town) were picked apart bullet by bullet, until nothing but rubble remains.

This was a diversion from life in Cairo, no doubt, but one which we feel is important to share. You can see a picture of Kuito's main drag below.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Angolan provincial capital, Kuito Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Islamic Cairo

One of the most mesmerizing experiences in all of Egypt is the continual buzz of Cairo's Islamic sections, most reflected in the constant whirr of the Khan El Khalili shopping district near the Al Azhar Mosque. Al Azhar represents the bastion of conservative Sunni Islam, and every single Koran that is published in Egypt is reviewed by special readers from this mosque to ensure that 100% of all the grammar and the wording is entirely correct. They take this very serious, and they have for about 10 centuries now...

The area was most heavily populated and used suring the Mamluk era, from roughly the end of the 1100s to the middle of the 1500s, and it is the region that holds the bazaar which delights so many tourists. The one fantastic difference between this bazaar and most of all the other "old" markets in the Middle East, is that this one is still frequented daily by more than one million Cairenes. The sights, sounds and smells of this area are absolutely intoxicating...and I'm not referring to the exhaust fumes from the cars stuck in traffic bumper-to-bumper with donkey carts and pedestrians. Plenty of fun, haggle-rich shopping and good Arabic coffee to be had...

Monday, February 28, 2005

One minaret per century, 1100-1300 AD Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Well, since many of you have claimed that our blog updates were resembling something less than cutting-edge journalism due to lack of any decent updates, we thought we would kick it into gear and share a bit of the goings-on in 2005 with you.

The year got off to a great start when Genia's parents came to give us a visit. We had some wonderful excursions through Egypt, including a relaxing cruise on Lake Nasser. But, in one of the more adventurous moments, we decided to check out one of the desert oases in the Sahara.

Although absolutely beautiful and stunning in a way that is very different than the Nile valley, the oases tend to offer somewhat less in the way of amenities, primarily due to lack of sufficient traffic to warrant the expense by the few enterprising tour guides and others.

In the end, beside a bit of the food poisoning that caught up with some of us, we had a great visit, and as you can see from the picture below, we were super lucky to have Jim and Anne helping to get us unstuck!

Monday, January 31, 2005

Which way to the Oasis?

I don't think Genia's driving... Posted by Hello

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Red Jordan and Petra Rum

No, that's not what we were drinking, but what we were seeing...

We arrived in Jordan and headed to a resort on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea (with a very nice corporate rate from some of Genia's colleagues from her time there). She headed straight to the pool overlooking the Dead Sea, and it was obvious she had been there before...

After a nice mud bath and floating in (on?) the Dead Sea, we headed to Petra so that I could live out my Indiana Jones fantasies. It was truly magnificent to see this spectacular work of human hands, and I would say that the ruins in Petra rival even the great ruins of the Pyramids in Egypt.

We traveled from there to Wadi Rum to visit some of the spectacular desert scenery in the area where Lawrence of Arabia lived among the Beduouins. Truly spectacular scenery on a very large scale, which is probably some of the most beautiful desert scenery any where in the world.

Jordan was a nice place to visit, and the people were very friendly. English was widely spoken, and most people would nod that they were happy that we were speaking Arabic, but then just launch into perfect English. Jordan is a small country, and a quick visit will allow for lots to see.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

In the Siq, Petra Posted by Hello

Red (Wadi) Rum Posted by Hello

Honey, we're home! Posted by Hello