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[RC] Egypt part 1 - CTH

Sit down and get a cup of coffee. I will start my tale of Egypt:-)

My neighbor Linda went with me so when I say we I mean her and me.

Packing for this trip was interesting. Between the 2 of us we had 200 pounds of luggage plus carry on. AND I took very few clothes. I had no room for clothes.

I had a saddle, bridles. You see my friend Maryanne Gabbani lives there and runs a guest ranch.

She can not buy tack locally.

We got to the airport and luck was on our side. They just tossed them on the belt and gave us our boarding pass. It helped that we were in line behind  Builders without Boarders and all their boxes. They were going to Africa to build dorms and houses.

They asked me what was in the boxes and I told them it was horse equipment for a stable in Egypt. Maryanne does children's lessons.

They just tossed the boxes on the belt and away they went.

The plane was over an hour late leaving which was bad. We only had one hour between flights in Montreal our first stop. With the 40 folks from BWB on board also heading for Paris they held the flight.

A 4 hour wait in Paris before we could board air France for Cairo.

Everyone laughs at me because I take my pillow every where. Well I pulled it out of my carry on found a bench and got a good 3 hour nap. Linda was not so lucky. I can sleep any where.

We arrived in Cairo:-) about 7 pm.

Now here is where it gets interesting. Maryanne said she would have someone meet us to go through customs with all the stuff (my mom was worried I would go to jail)

Scanning the guys holding up signs we did not see our names. When arriving you must  buy a $30 USD Visa. We figured this out gathered up the boxes and suitcases headed for customs. My arabic is non existent at that time. The customs guys do not speak very good english.

I pull in and they want to know what is in the boxes. I tell them with some charades horse stuff. They want to see. I have visions of being there all night as I scan the crowd looking for Maryanne. She speaks arabic and it is her stuff.

Well all turns out okay, they really only wanted to see.

Now it gets more interesting. No Maryanne. A very nice man asks if we need a cab. I say no thank you I have a friend coming. 5 minutes, 10 minutes 30 minutes no sign of my friend. (Steph sound familiarJ)The people in Egypt are so nice.

They really are. This same cab driver offers to call my friend. Well what the heck did I need her number for. She was going to meet me. OOPS not good.I have no number, address and I am not even sure of the area she lives in…. always an adventure

You need to know that there is no phone book for Egypt and everyone uses cell phones. I explain I need an internet connection. He offers to take me to one. I leave Linda with the luggage and head off to find a connection. so here I am in a strange country doing exactly what my hubby told me not to do . I left the airport with a guy I do not know in a country I am visiting for the first time. He was great. Took me to a hotel across from the airport and right beside "Radio Shack" was an internet /phone place.

I called Maryanne and said "Its Paddi and I am at the airport" She said no you are not. You arrive tomorrow.

You cross the date line and she figured we were arriving on the 19th since I told her to pick me up on the 18th. Most people get confused but I left on the 17th.

The cab driver paid for my internet and phone call. I had no money....

(I paid him back when I found Linda, she had some Egyptian pounds with her)

Now here is a few hints in case you ever go to Egypt.

All t paper goes into waste baskets not flushed. Carry 1 pound notes to tip the washroom attendant. They clean the toilet seat, give you hand towels. In fact you tip everyone in Egypt.

Maryanne shows up looking flustered and apologizing. This just never happens, well except when Steph came. I think it just endurance riders she forgets:-) and we are a pretty independent non panicking personality group so that is okay.

It is about an hour drive to her house, Maryanne gives us a running commentary of the areas we are driving through. She also teaches us our first lesson in arabic.

how to say hello. Everyone in Egypt says hello.

It took me the next 21 days to get it right. I am not good with languages.

We settle in for her guest house and fall into bed about midnight.

Remember: I said I can sleep any where!

I woke up the next morning rested about 10 am. Linda on the other hand said did you here the call for prayer at 4 .30 am ? Did you hear the dogs barking? Did you hear the pounding? (the grooms were chopping wood)I stretched and said NO! I slept like a dream. Next night same thing.

Maryanne taught lessons until lunch and we enjoyed the sun. Later the grooms saddled the horses and we headed out to the desert for a ride. To cool here, we are on Arabian horses that are well trained and fit riding to the pyramids. There are many pyramids not just the ones you see in pictures. Those are the GIZA pyramids.

A great supper followed and the next day we went riding then grocery shopping. Picture west Edmonton mall on boxing day times 10 for crowd.

Amazing , this store is kind of the Egyptian wally mart. They sell everything literally. I only went there once. I hate malls. Food is cheap and you can get all the name brands you see at home. We bought really yummy juice. Milk comes in tetra packs (yuk). I forget what we all bought but it came to about 40 dollars and filled 4 bags. Try that at Safeway.

Maryanne and I spent the evening catching up on stuff. We have been friends on the internet for years. I finally took her up on her offer to visit.

Kids are every where. They are cute happy and well fed. It is a farming area and they may not have much money but they are rich with love. Egyptians love children.

The kids ask for money but we only give them smiles. Maryanne has a very strict rule that no one gives the kids anything but smiles. They have learnt that and if the rule was broken no one would get any peace when riding or walking.

I just laughed and said yes I want money , you can give me money. They would laugh at the idea that I would ask them for money.

*the kids here go to a government school. The girls quit at about grade 3. The schools are not very good. These kids want to learn but the school system is a failure.


(this is where I put in a note that I am raising money to build a literacy center, more on that later. Selling the most beautiful scarves from Egypt to raise funds) and yes I will