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by Viv

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I'm here because it's a place where I want to be.

What do I do with my life - still pondering that, keep exploring the possibilities I suppose...

I do have another more personal moblog Vivupclose

Take a look at my daughter Beth's website...

food for thought...

Everyone, in some small sacred sanctuary of the self, is nuts. -Leo Rosten, author (1908-1997)

We think caged birds sing, when indeed they cry. -John Webster, playwright (c. 1580-1634)

There are two kinds of light -- the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures. -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)

The artist brings something into the world that didn't exist before, and he does it without destroying something else. -John Updike, writer (1932-2009)

Some people become so expert at reading between the lines they don't read the lines. -Margaret Millar, novelist (1915-1994)

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. -Elie Wiesel, writer, Nobel laureate (b. 1928)

from A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg

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The journey from Qena to Luxor...9.22 - 9.24

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These are all through the bus window. Seeing the countryside and the people was more of a highlight for me than the antiquities.

Barbara's comment...

Eventually we reached the lush green vegetation of the irrigated farmland. It was as if the desert had been cut off with a pair of scissors. It just stopped and the farmland began.I must admit I was disappointed not to see the shadoof in action but there were plenty of pumps lifting water onto the fields,it's just the technology that has changed I suppose.
Of course there were farmers in the fields but no tractors, just donkeys tied up at the side of the field patiently waiting till they were needed, poor little beggars! Standing all day, no visible sign of a drink. I have to say though that they were not all neglected. We do have a completely different outlook when it comes to animal welfare.
The fields were full of all different kinds of crop including purple blue alfalfa which just looked like a haze in the distance in some places. I did actually see one or two ancient tractors pulling carts of sugar cane and trucks with mountains of clover piled high.
We didn't see any women in the fields but again very intensive with men. It looked as the main cashcrop in that area was sugar cane. There was even a rail track along the side of the road/irrigation canal, complete with tiny loco and high sided open wagons, which went directly from the field to the factory. I noticed men at the side of the road chewing raw sugar cane. Poor teeth!

On my side of the bus I did see a couple of women in a field and as you can see captured an ancient tractor.
11th Mar 2012, 23:59   comments (2)

Qena 9.15

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Barbara's description of the journey from Stop 75 to Qena.

So we set off again through the mountains which by now were more like enormous quarry heaps with the gullies but not as smooth and definitely shaley with flat valley bottoms widening out into the yonder. Obviously evidence of former lake or sea bed from prehistory. Very interesting to actually see wadis when you've taught it. These mountains did not gradually get smaller they just stopped as if someone had just switched the Mountain Machine off and we came out onto a very flat desert plain. The Eastern Desert. This dry landscape went on for about 20 km and the road was unmade. There were men in tanker sprayers squirting water over the road to keep the dust down and further along from that they were actually laying Tarmac and making a very fast dual carriageway highway. Everything was extremely labour intensive.

Our first encounter of city traffic, total madness and a lot of horn honking.

This is an important mosque in Qena...

The Maghrebi Abd el-Rahim settled in Qena upon his return from Mecca and founded a Sufi center here. Upon his death in 1195, the mosque was built above his tomb and became a place of pilgrimage. There is a huge modern mosque of Sheikh el-Qenawi in the main square which attests to his importance.
11th Mar 2012, 19:49   comments (2)

Desert - Stop 75 - bedouin people

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Halfway across we had a cafe stop - have a feeling this might be obligatory to support the bedouins. Children and mothers were only too happy to pose for pictures in return for the unwanted carbs in our breakfast bag - the orange juice and fruit yogurt were icing on the cake. They made money on drinks ad stalls and toilets (2 egyptian pounds)In fact the food was snatched from our hands. Sad.

My friend Barbara's summary of this part of the journey and the stop...

After what seemed ages but was about half an hour we set off, escorted by an armed police pick up complete with flashing lights, a modern day caravan through the desert. Away through the Red Sea Mountains towards stop 75. Called this by the British Army as one of the fuel dumps for the Desert Rats during the war.

The foothills along the route looked as though they had been tipped out of a jelly mould,smooth and silky looking like the boulder clay cliffs at Filey. There was evidence of rain in the deep gullies carved by running water but no actual moisture was obvious .

We came upon stop 75 without much of a fanfare, no petrol station prices, no McDonalds sign or gaudy lighting. Just a well lit bazaar type arrangement of tourist tat shops and a bit of a cafe, well more like a tea bar really complete with old fashioned tea urn and chocolate bars, crisps and snacks things. Oh and 2 £e (20p) for the loo! We were pestered by Arab salesmen trying to sell us all kinds of tat and "La a shoukran" and even NO were frequently heard above the general hubbub.

We didn't need to buy breakfast because we had our packups remember? So, there were items that we did not want. As we were buying the hot drinks a Bedouin woman and her children had materialised out of the desert complete with donkey and goats and were begging for food in return for having their photos taken. We gave the children our rolls and fruit drinks . I can't think this was a good idea really because it's not their usual diet and it must be awful for their teeth! So this was why The tour guide had said we would need our breakfast. Apparently the Bedouin people are literally dispossessed having no rights, no social security and so effectively they don't exist so far as the government is concerned. We were told that. water is provided for them but that's about it really. (Small dams have been made - Viv) They were so glad to have the food that they literally grabbed it out of our hands, it's a very sad situation. I thought the children looked old before they had been young if you know what I mean.

I also think that the hotel provide this huge amount of breakfast in the knowledge that it's going to be given away. The stop seemed very well organised and well timed so it's probably an arranged daily event.

11th Mar 2012, 19:39   | tags:comments (6)

Sunday 4th March - A very early start!

4.50 am the coach arrives to take us to Luxor! (That's 02.50 uk time!)
6am the sun rises... first picture is how the camera saw it, but the sun was vivid red second I have manipulated to get a red sun which is nowhere near as strong or bright but nearer to what we saw.

This trip takes 3 hours to get to Luxor.?... Allegedly.
So we had our early morning call at 04:00 and went down to collect our packed breakfast. As we were sorting through what we wanted and what we would be prepared to do without, the tour guide, Gerges, told us that we would need everything that had been provided. So without further ado we were onto the coach and away.

To Makadi Bay, remember it is still pitch black. As we travelled along the dark highway we noticed wagons and cars just sitting at the side of the road. This is because the roads are to be used only by tourist coaches and taxis at certain times of the day for security reasons. We passed through several checkpoints, some of which had armed guards, to reach the Makadi Bay Hotel. Here we picked up more tourists and then we were off! Back through the checkpoints to the small town (Safaga) where we entered a compound to join other coaches and trucks which were here gathering to form a convoy.

As we waited for others to join us we watched the sun come up as the sea below turned a coppery red and the mountains around became pink it was obvious on reflection that this was why it is the Red Sea. As each additional bus arrived the drivers climbed out down to the Tarmac to greet their fellow drivers and friends with hugs and great beaming smiles.

Extract from my friend Barbara's description of the day.

7.15am We join other coaches in a compound at Safaga. Tourists are not allowed to go through the desert without a military police escort. There must have been about 40 buses/coaches in our convoy. This safety measure was put in place after six gunmen disguised as police, emerged from nearby cliffs, and fired randomly at tourists, killing 70 people at the Hatshepsut Temple on November 17th 1997.
11th Mar 2012, 18:50   | tags:,,comments (7)

Hurgahda - a short walk to the bank

It goes dark and cooler quite quickly. It is dusk around 5.30.
10th Mar 2012, 18:48   comments (0)

Siva Grand Beach, Hurghada - first impressions Saturday 3rd March

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Our room and the trees outside - loved the shadowsthe trees made.
10th Mar 2012, 18:44   comments (3)

Siva Grand Beach, Hurghada - first impressions Saturday 3rd March

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The omelette chef...
and later in the day crepe chef

a winner all round
10th Mar 2012, 18:42   | tags:comments (4)

Siva Grand Beach, Hurghada - first impressions Saturday 3rd March

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along the beach front
10th Mar 2012, 18:41   comments (0)