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Egypt: The Parrots Move

tracy dreamt last night she went shopping in a busy market (she didn't go with us yesterday) and a big bee flew at her so she threw her hands up, which woke her up and she found she had pulled out her earplugs and threw them at me.

I slept through it all.

I've been sleeping so hard I don't dream at all. I did hear the imam's 5 AM prayer thru my earplugs, and I did wake up to throw a dog or 2 off my face during the night. When I got up, I just couldn't stand it any more - I pulled out my hairbrush and scratched the flea bites on my fingers till they were almost raw. Ahhh! I knew I brought that hairbrush along for a reason.

Tracy and Morad went off to run in the desert again. Another lovely made-for-riding Egyptian morning passed without me riding, and I could have gone out with Pal. It made me ache not riding, especially when Christine and Hortense rode up to the house.

Hortense was on this gorgeous young stallion with a long mane thick as sheep's wool. I couldn't stop running my hands through it. I want I want I want to go galloping through the desert on one of these Egyptian Arabs but I don't want to get my hopes up too high and have them dashed. I have, after all, had many other great experiences here.

We may ride this afternoon but it would be through the countryside, and we're supposed to join everyone for a ride Friday, but as things go here in Egypt, that may not happen nor fulfill this desert-galloping desperate urge.

Oh well!

Our Wednesday and Thursday is booked, so I have only Friday and Saturday to do this. And that's because, on Wed & Thur Nabeel is taking us to the Sinai!! Oh my god I am going to the Sinai!!! We're leaving tomorrow morning, driving ~6 hrs to Sharm al-Sheikh, stay at her huge house there, leave the next morning for St Katherine's Monastery and Mt Sinai - oh my god I can climb Mt Sinai!

I've been wanting to go here for 14 years!!! Oh my god, I can't believe I'm in Egypt and I'm going to the Sinai! Nabeel, the driver is a copt Christian so I expect he'll have lots of info about the Sinai.

Wow. Now get this - I look out the kitchen window into the back yard this morning I see - a tortoise! I yelled "There's a turtle!" MA said "Oh yea - I have 2 tortoises." See? All these animals just come out of the woodwork. Who knows how many there really are? One night when we rode with Morad in the car, I asked what the guy in the little store/stall right by MA's gate sold, and Morad said "He's the fuul man. Makes the best beans around." I opened my big mouth and said ... "Yum!"

So, what happens today at lunch, the man who lives by our gate comes to the house with a bag full of Egyptian lunch: ta'amiyya (like falafel), fried taters, fuul - sent by Morad. It was delicious!

We left around noon - Mohammed taking Steph in to the airport, and Jackie and I with Maryanne to her house in Maadi. I can't believe Steph is leaving this Middle Eastern adventure - what are we going to do with no Steph??

We stopped at a market, a real supermarket like Safeway, and I got out of the car lame - I couldn't walk! It was like I pulled a muscle up high in my right leg. Hmm... maybe I did it pushing an imaginary brake pedal??

After some more errands, the mission at MA's old house was to move her parrots (did I mention MA has parrots too) to her new digs and their huge new cages. Sure, I said I'd help. I have a mean little parrot who bites hard and breaks the skin and when he does it hurts like hell.

"Where are the gloves?" MA "Oh, I don't use gloves." Huh? "I just use my hands because they're scared of gloves." This woman doesn't use gloves and these are no mean little parrots. 3 are African greys with big beaks and 3 are Nasty Rotten Amazons with Big Beaks.

I quickly amended my "Sure I'll help" to "Sure I'll watch." I mean, that's like sticking your hand into a hot fire to pick up a hot coal - you know that no matter what, you're going to get burned and it's going to hurt! In other words, I'm just a coward.

She got the 3 African grays with no bites, then plunged into the Amazon War Zone. Oh, the shrieking was horrible - the wild birds and MA. Each one of them bit her good at least once. She grabbed one, it grabbed her, but she bit her lip, carried them out the cage and threw them in the carriers that Mohammed held open.

I watched the door so the other birds wouldn't escape which of course was the farthest away from those beaks I could get as possible without leaving the property and still being able to say I was 'helping.'

After she got those 3 then she cried out in agony as Jackie poured water on her bleeding fingers. We hauled the birds back home and put the carriers in their new huge aviary cages and opened their doors. The Amazons flew up high; the Grays climbed out of the carriers and sat on the doors.

Ali looked so sweet; he took pumpkin seeds from me in the car but I knew better than to try and pet him. Inside the house I started picking things up off the table, and there was coffee in the French Press. I started to ask Steph if she wanted coffee, but Steph was no longer here. :(

We decided to go for a ride, and drove to MA's horses. The grooms saddled up our horses around 5 PM, which still just feels too wierd. I rode Geneh ("Wings") or Birdie, the mare Steph rode last time. I could still hardly walk (what on earth did I do to my leg?) but that didn't matter because I could still get in the saddle and ride fine. Tracy rode faithful steady Bunduq ("Hazelnut") again, Jackie rode Nazeer ("Visionary"), and MA rode my mount of last time, Nayzak ("meteor").

We started off down the alley, onto the little trails through the fields. There were lots of little kids around yelling "Hello hello!" Some of them had brilliant smiles. Ragged clothes, dirty faces, barefoot, and beautiful smiles that lit their whole beings up.

One little girl ran beside me with her hand up and I reached down and she gave me a high 5. She ran off laughing. Tracy was last in line and led a parade of little children yelling Hello! and waving. The horses aren't bothered by this at all, nor the snarling barking dogs that run out. Nayzak started acting a bit silly, just because he needed a good blowout in the desert instead of just walking, and when we met Morad and Hortense and Julie on her new stallion on the opposite side of the canal, and they turned to follow us, Nayzak did a little buck and shimmy, and MA landed on the ground. Naughty horse! She stayed off and led him, and when we met the other 3, Morad switched horses with her.

Julie was leading the way on her prancing stallion, and at a corner didn't know which way to go, and with the vicious dogs and Hello kids and grownups watching and our horses milling around, it was quite chaotic - and the horses didn't even react. MA decided it was a day to just go home, so we all decided to end the ride and turned towards home. I told Hortense, "Friday morning I want to ride with you or Morad or Pal in the desert on a fast ride!" She said "Oh yes, Morad will take you. Our group usually goes out Friday morning anyway."

I then told Morad I wanted to go for a gallop in the desert Friday morning. Not far, but just a gallop in the desert. "Oh, I have something special planned for you." I said "Uh - what? Uh oh." He laughed "Your tone sure changed there!" I said "Just don't put me on something crazy that bucks!" though maybe if I time it right and hit the soft deep sand it won't be so bad.

Morad and Hortense came over for dinner. I was so starved I had 3 helpings of the spaghetti MA made, and I could have had more. Tracy changed her ticket home - she is now leaving here April 15 and flying to Paris to visit there a while - I am jealous! We hit the hay early because MA is taking us into Maadi at 5 AM tomorrow (and Hortense is going with us) where Nabeel will pick us up to go to the Sinai.

We feel terrible that MA is getting up to do this so early, not to mention that she basically arranged the whole trip, and is giving us her house in Sharm to stay in. This woman is just amazing.