Monday, November 28, 2005

What Did You Do For Thanksgiving?

After almost four months here I finally got out to see the pyramids at Giza. It was pretty interesting, but at the same time it was oddly disappointing. We rode horses around the area which was nice. You can actually go right up to the pyramids and touch them if you like, which I did, and then I stole a bunch of pieces from it. There are three large pyramids and then a number of smaller ones surrounding them. Surrounding the entire area are dwellings built into the rock where slaves lived or were buried. I'm not sure because our guide was not clear. The most surprising thing of all was the Sphinx. It was much smaller than I thought it would be. It was about the size of a two trailer homes put together with a big bulbous head. Incredible, yet plausible.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

At Fishawly's In the Khan

Khan el Khalily is the biggest bazaar in Cairo. It has anything that any tourist would ever want. Plus, it is the heart of the old city. Hence, many of the buildings and the mosques in the area range in age from a couple hundred to over a thousand years old. The cafe we are in, Fishawly's, for example, has been open continiously for three hundred years or so. Imagine a place that has been open longer than your country has existed. When put this way it really rings true how young our country is compared to the rest of the world.

Happy Thanksgiving

On Wednesday my school had a Thanksgiving celebration. Homerooms were to decorate their rooms and if theirs was the best the would win and get a pizza party or something. One of my students had asked me if he could bring in a turkey and if I could get a box to put it in because he had an idea for a display in our room. I said yes, thinking that this turkey would be made of paper, or wood, or something inanimate. The next day I came in to find a live turkey! Apparently I told my student it was ok, and that I would get a cage for it, and that I would give him extra credit for it. Doesn't sound like me, but mabye? It was really funny. Despite my pleas with the administrators we still got second place and that was because of "artistic amibition" :)

Alexandria; Part II

Since my friend got here I have gone to see some more of the sites in Egypt. We went back to Alexandria taking the train first class. The trains here are very cheap. First class is only 5 US per person! We had no reservation when we got there, but as always happens luck followed me. We found a nice place right on the bay for about 12 US a night! It was very beautiful. The next day we went to various touristy spots like the Roman Theater, a WWI grave yard, The Catacombs, and Pompey's Pillar. It was a nice day overall. Most places I got to take pictures in. Unfortunately I did not get to take pictures in the catacombs which was probably the most interesting place. There were many underground rooms and for the purpose of storing bodies of the earliest Egyptian Christians. Since then I have taken her to Khan-El-Khalily and the Pyramids. We were going to go to Luxor, but decided instead to stay with our friends in Maadi for Thanksgiving.

Having her here has been very nice and I thank God that she had a safe trip here and will have a good trip home. She is having a good time, I think, at least that is what she tells me. I hope that some of you may find the time to visit me as well. It is very much a comfort to share my life here with those I care about most.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Coptic Cairo

The other weekend I went to Coptic Cairo with a few friends. I was feeling under the weather and so did not have a good a time as maybe I should have, but it was still a nice trip. Lucky for me I will probably go again in a week and then I know that I will go again in a week after that. For those of you who don’t know what Coptic is I will give you a vague definition. The Copts are the native Christian religion here in Egypt. The country is mainly Muslim, about ninety percent I would guess. The other ten percent is mainly Coptic Christians with a few other little groups thrown in to round out the whole bit. The Copts are most like what we may think of as an orthodox Christian religion. For those of you who don’t know what the difference is the Orthodox Church is the result of a schism in the Christian church around the time of Constantine and the council at Nicomedia somewhere in the fifth century AD. For those of you who don’t know what a schism is, look it up.

Anyway, the Copts have been worshipping in Egypt for a long time. Some of the churches we went into had signs saying stuff like, “This is the catacomb in which the holy family (Mary, Joseph, and Jesus) stayed for a short time.” Kind of cool, I’m skeptical, but still kind of cool. We also went to a number of really really old churches. The one in the pictures with the two steeples is called the hanging church. It is called this because it literally has nothing underneath. It is built on stilts above water level and so is “hanging” in the air. In the church floor are little slots where you can look below and see water below. Makes sense considering how close to the Nile the church is. Some other highlights were going into one of the only synagogues in Cairo (Egyptians hate Israel for obvious reasons) and see and old Roman wall, which unfortunately I did not get a picture of. Maybe I will get the picture next time.

It was nice to be in a Christian area, but also a little unnerving. To be in a place that is more densely foreigners than other places was strange. I really don’t like being around others like me, it is strange and doesn’t feel right. It is sort of like, “One of these things is not like the others.”

The Cemetery

The cemetery we went to in Coptic Cairo was one that is still in use. Crosses made of twigs bound together and crumbling angels adorned small domed tombs. Some had pictures and dates on the outside; some were still waiting for more visitors. The passage ways were narrow dirt roads and intermittently there would be a tree growing next to a tomb. The berries of these trees are no doubt supplemented by its surrounding nourishment. Being here was strangely disturbing as it is when I enter any cemetery, but also comforting to see the crosses atop the tombs.

Traffic Jam

When I first got to Cairo it seemed to me that the traffic here was mad. There are no traffic signals, no signaling during traffic, no stop signs, no lanes, no headlights at night, no pedestrian crossings. For the first few weeks I flinched everytime I took a cab ride. However, since then being almost killed in traffic everyday has become as common as the guys across the street with the machine guns.

The other day however I was jolted back to reality a bit. Often we will see car wrecks but never any real carnage. On the way home from work we were caught in a traffic jam on the highway. During our wait my freind, the driver, said, "Some one better be dead if I have to wait this long." Wish granted. Here in Cairo people will run across four lanes of highway traffice to jump a median and go through four more lanes of traffic. Assuming you do this all the time, eventually fate will catch you. Its not just men who do it, but children, women, and the ederly. The day before this the car in front of our bus was going about fifty miles and hour and tore it's mirror off by clipping an old lady crossing the highway. We were all stunned that she wasn't flattened. This day however our subject was not as lucky. As we rolled slowly by we saw first a group of people at the median in a circle. In the middle was a man in a galabaya wailing. A small distance down the road was a corpse covered in newspaper, a small corpse. This however did not slag our thirst. Where was the car that hit that person? A short while later we happend upon a military van with the front end compacted and all the windows blown out. The vechile must not have slowed down at all because there were no skid marks.

I can truthfully say that unless I find myself at gunpoint someday my rides to and from work every morning are probably the most dangerous times of my life.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hey Everybody

I changed my settings a little bit. Now at the bottom of each post is what looks like an envelope. If you click on this you can send the post to a friend.

Arctic Expedition Beard

I shaved off my beard this past week. Lucky for all of you I did it slowly and with documentation. Plus, I was bored. After shaving it off though I ultimately regretted it. I now live in a culture that values men with beards. Most of the students at school were not happy to have a cleaned faced younger looking Mr. Hurley. They wanted the beard back and I agree. I miss the beard. So I have to say, "I'm sorry beard, don't worry, we'll meet again some day soon."

I wanted to to know what you think or which one you liked best so please look through the pictures and let me know. The beard is my favorite, Mustache Ride is my least.

Hey Goat!!

Who Wants a Mustache Ride?

License and Registration Please


Sunday, November 06, 2005

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite sunny places, my porch, or rather part of it and my favorite street which is on the way to a freinds house. It is places like this that are nice and quiet. I like to spend as much time here as possible.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Can You Get In?

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!

Even better! I once saw a statistic that only 46% of Americans could find America on a world map! Try this one and let me know how you did. Go to the bottom of the entry to the purple and click

You Are Thirty Years Old

I was trying this on a freinds site and thought that it would fun to put on my own. No suprise here. The average age of my freinds is somewhere in the thirties so it seems only appropriate that I am too. If you want to give it a try go to the link in purple at the bottom of this entry.
You Are 30 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.