Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Ma Shah Allah..."

So, I know that I've been a horrible person and haven't updated my blog since arriving in Egypt. However, this is now changing. It's been a very busy and awesomely exciting week, so I'll do my best a) not to bore you, and b) not to make this too extremely ridiculously long. Here goes...

First, as per my rant in the previous post, I spent roughly 24 hours in Rome. Which, as it turned out, was more than sufficient. The first time that I visited Rome was with my grandparents. I had never before traveled outside of the United States and Canada, so it was my favorite city, easily. However, now that I have had the opportunity to travel a bit more, I have to say that Rome is entirely too benign, tourist-packed, expensive, and "European"...shudder...much like traveling within the U.S., but with a few more "Mama Mias" and with a currency that spends as quickly as dollars, except that it's actually worth more than the dollars, so you get screwed. REALLY BAD. ARGH. The metro, which I took from the airport to the central station in Rome to save money, still cost me 11 euros. My head is still spinning from that one... But I got to see some cool things and wander about some sites that I had not had the chance to explore on my previous visit, as well as a chance to see some of the places we visited 10 years ago...like...

Um, okay, the pictures didn't insert where I thought they would. So much for the buildup of suspense here. Above, are pictures of 1) the Fountain of Trevi, 2) the Coliseum, and 3) the Roman Forum.

Enough! Onto more exciting things...Munia and I went to the Sinai Peninsula last weekend to climb Mt. Sinai, the biblical mountain where Moses is said to have received the 10 Commandments. To make the climb, we teamed up with a Bible-thumping, red-headed Norwegian man who is obsessed with and lives in Ethiopia. He was on our bus and asked us if he could join us, and especially since we had to climb during the night, we readily agreed. So innocently... Then we are halfway up the mountain admiring the AMAZINGLY CLEAR sky (we saw shooting stars galore, as the Leonid? meteor shower is in full-swing right now), when he proceeds to explain to us that he is convinced that his Father (and by Father, he means God) has sent us to help him to make the climb. Yes, this really did happen. So we get to the top, rent blankets and sleeping pads from some very friendly Bedoins, and proceed to sleep the night away under the stars...UNTIL THE DAMN EUROPEAN TOURISTS STARTED TO ARRIVE AT 4AM!!!!!11!1 AAAAAAGH!!! I mean, I LEFT Rome, right? Then why are they Mama Mia-ing to a pathetically played harmonica version of Amazing Grace?????? How sacreligious! Seriously, Moses would have been most displeased. The experience was very cool and very special, but much more authentic while only the 3 of us were at the summit (about 6,000 ft.)

DAH! I'm so bad at blogging, guys... so the 4 center-aligned photos above the Rome photos are from Mt. Sinai. Starting from the top, 1) view from near summit, during the descent, 2) paths leading up the mountain, with camels and Bedouins and small hut-stores. 3) St. Katherine's monastery at the base of the mountain. This was originally built in the 5th century A.D., and reinforced by the Roman emperor Justinian in order to protect the biblical Burning Bush, through which God appeared to Moses. While the actual bush is still living, locked inside a central room in the monastery, a cutting was taken and planted elsewhere in the monastery and can be seen by the public. 4) sunrise from the summit of Mt. Sinai.

Well this is going to be really anticlimactic, since my most widely anticipated pictures are now going to appear at the top...but anyway, we'll get to the point... Yesterday I visited Islamic Cairo, spent a good bit of time (and money) at the Khan Al-Khalili bazaar (which is everything you could ever hope for in a crowded Cairo marketplace), visited the northern gates, and wandered about, and even visited the Ali Hakim Mosque. This was really really cool, since many mosques are closed to non-Muslims. I have included a couple of the best pictures above. 1) one of many mosques in Islamic Cairo, which really enhance the overall atmosphere and architecture of the city, and 2) inside the Ali Hakim Mosque, built by one of Egypt's most notorious rulers (he did stuff like pouring boiling oil on his enemies).

At this point, I am having trouble uploading more pictures, so I'm going to immediately create another post to upload my pyramid pictures, which are from today. Way cool...and I finally fulfilled my fantasy of riding a camel through the pyramids...check it out!


Blogger Kichwa Tembo said...

!!! I just decided to re-read parts of your blog, and you reminded me of how whats-his-face thought God sent us to help him climb Gebel Musa. HAHAHAHAAHA...

BTW, when you're editing blogger posts and the pictures show up at the top, you can drag them down into the post and drop them wherever you want.

3:09 AM  
Blogger sasseelady said...

Thanks for your vivid desciptions I feel as if I'm right there with you.

THANKS for letting us travel with you.

12:50 PM  

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