My Side

While Aden is busy in class...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

City of the Dead

November 25, 2009

A typical Wednesday morning turned into a trip to Ghamra where Nacia and I were looking for a bus station to buy tickets for Dahab. After finding the station and buying the tickets, we stumbled across another City of the Dead. This particular city had more plants and flowers than the previous one. There were also more signs of the living.

There was a wall that was completely covered with plaques. We were informed that it was dedicated to Palestinian martyrs.

Then out of the blue, little children started to show up. They all wanted to be held. As adorable they were, they were also dirty. After playing with the kids, which was more like them jumping on us, our clothes and our hands were covered with dirt.

Nacia told one of the moms that I liked babies. Once this news was out, mothers in the area brought out their newborn babies one by one.

More people started to come out and started to invite us to stay with them. They also asked for pens-go figure. Since time was running short, we had to decline their offer and head back to the metro. Maybe next time I can sneak a baby with me.

I'm just kidding.

How We Got There:
Took the metro line towards El Marg (1 LE)
Got off on the Ghamra stop
Somehow found the bus station
Then somehow found the City of the Dead near the station

Trip Tips:
Bring loads of pens

Good Stuff of the Day:
There are plenty of babies

Room for Science:
We are mutants. Our bodies are constantly mutating. Thank goodness, most of them don't manifest physically. Wait... we're suppose to have two bellybuttons right? One on the front and one on the back?

Garbage City

November 18, 2009
While Aden was in class, a friend and I decided to visit Garbage city. We took the metro to Aqaba and walked towards Khan-al-kahlili until we saw a beautiful Greek orthodox church. It looked out of place among the raggedy markets. We entered through a gate and were greeted by a monk who informed us that the church was the Greek orthodox headquarters for all of Africa.

After visiting the headquarters, we got into a taxi to go to Garbage city. The driver took us somewhere different and dropped us off in the middle of the highway. After taking more money than he deserved and leaving us deserted, we were really upset. But that frustration was soon alleviated by a sweet coptic boy who picked us up in his pick up truck. He took us to St. Simon's monastery so we offered him money but he refused to take it. He was only fifteen years old and his response to our confusion was that he was helping us because he was doing it for Allah. We were deeply impressed. Not a split second of temptation crossed his mind to take the money we offered. As a token of our gratitude, my friend gave him an Egyptian ribbon.

The canyons toward the monastery had beautiful carvings of stories depicted from the Bible. We went inside a cave church where the walls were also carved with important biblical events.

After admiring the beauty of the place, we were once again offered a ride down the hill. The sincereity of the people in Garbage City is an irony of their habitat. The streets were filled with garbage but they were organized into different piles of garbage. Each family has specific responsibility and role in the community. There were kids sorting through garbage along with their parents.

Wearing flip flops through the city was not really smart, I almost stepped into a dead rat followed by a live one.

Just outside of garbage city was the City of the Dead. The name pretty much says it all. The place was a ghost town. Every corner, street, and tomb looked pretty much the same. There was peace and serenity about the place. There were no cars honking, loud nasal voices, nor was there garbage. There was one family that spotted us and came out to ask us for a pen. There is something about Egyptians and their desires for pen.

After our visit to these cities, we hustled our way back to the metro. We did bump into herds of goats that were being prepared for the Eid.

Can't wait for the streets to be filled with animal blood.

How We Got There:
Took the metro towards El Marg (1 LE)
Got off on Sadat
Transferred to the Shruba line
Got off on Aqaba
Walked towards the Khan
Took a taxi somewhere near the Khan (12 LE)
Got off on a highway
Walked towards the Maqattam Hill
Got picked up by a coptic boy

Trip Tips:
Don't wear flip flops

Good Stuff of the Day:
Garbage is our friend

Room for Science:
We're walking dead. Our outer skin layer is bunch of squashed dead cells

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ain Helwan

Saturday morning started out with breakfast at Leucille's with the Relief Society. There were over dozen of us squeezed in the back corner of the restaurant waiting for our omelets or french toast. Leucille's was apparently ranked to have the best burger according to the Time Magazine. After the breakfast, Nacia and I took off to see the wax museum. On the metro we got off at Ain Helwan and headed towards the museum. To our dismay, it was closed due to low visitations.

To make the day more exciting we decided to randomly take mini buses without knowing the destination. There is something about Egyptians that draw them to others businesses. People at the minibus depot tried to plan our trip and kept pointing us to tourist locations. They were confused that we wanted to be away from the touristy area and wanted to see other side of Egypt. People started to get frustrated and began raising their voices about our choices. I found that to be really amusing because they were so concerned about our experience in Egypt. We finally got into a minibus and got off on the last stop.

The first place we went was a community building. Locals would come and learn how to use the computer or just use the library. Besides this particular building and a market, there really wasn't anything else in the little town. The town was run down, dusty, and empty. People here seemed to be more down to earth than the people in the city although there was a young girl that threw a rock at me and young boys swearing at us. There was a man, probably named Mohamed, who was very nice and took us to the market. He used to work for the oil company but was fired because he was late one time and now he wants to become a taxi driver. He told us that Ain Helwan was mainly used for farming and it used to have beautiful springs but that all changed after an earthquake. Then the government decided to build plethora of apartments-go figure.

Since we had a little time left, we decided to go to one of the churches in Ma'adi where the Holy Family hid, and the place where they took off on the Nile. A Bible was found floating on the Nile near the church with pages opened to Isaiah 19:25, "Blessed be ye Egypt my people."After our little adventure, Aden and I went to CAC to see a volleyball match and finished the day with a McArabian burger. Yum.

How We Got There:
Took the metro line towards Helwan (1 EGP)
Got off on the Ain Helwan stop
There were few minibuses outside the metro (75 piasters)
Got off on the last stop

Trip Tips:
Don't wear flip flops just in case kids throw rocks at you

Good Stuff of the Day:
Not everyone is out to get you- whew

Make Room for Science:
The life span of a red blood cell is 120 days and its last nursing home is either the liver or the spleen. I personally would go to the spleen even if it has less space but if you're into drinking, the liver would be your choice.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jordan 2009

Day 1

Aden surprised me with the Jordan trip to hear Elder Holland speak when I came back to Cairo. At the airport we were informed that without the credit card that Aden used to purchase the tickets we were not allowed to board on the plane. After talking with the manager, they handed our tickets while marking us as "exceptions." The flight was only an hour and half long. At the airport in Jordan we took a bus to Amman. Finding the church was easy but nobody was in the building so Aden and I walked around downtown Amman and ate a delicious Jordanian dish, mansef, consisted of roasted chicken and lots of rice. Exceeding my expectation, Amman was clean and peaceful. Compared to Cairo, there were fewer people and trash out in the streets. I especially enjoyed walking along the Rainbow streets covered with cobber stones.
The church was still empty when we got back so Aden found a way in but five minutes later the branch president and his wife walked in. They actually live in the church building, the first floor was their home and the second floor was the chapel and the classrooms. Around one thirty in the morning Marko, Kevin, and Miles finally arrived.

Day 2

Everybody was walking around to get everything ready for Elder Holland. I actually bumped into him in the hallway. I held my hands out and confidently greeted, "Hello President Boyd! ... uhm... I mean... Holland... I meant Elder Holland!" Noticing my nervous gestures and stutters, he grabbed my neck and pulled me towards him and said, "I know who I'am and you are?"
Well at least I didn't trip him (ahem... Miles)
The conference was wonderful. Elder Holland was emotional and funny throughout his talk. He and sister Holland had many years of visiting this part of the world. Their talks were filled with memories and hopes for the Middle East. The conference was filled with members that traveled from Syria, Dubi, United Arabs Emirates, and others. After the conference Aden, Kevin, Marko, and I went to the city center and ate hummus and foul. Aden and I also went and saw the roman ruins and the citadel from the distance.

Day 3

Petra was magnificant! There were more tourists than I would have liked but that did not steal the beauty of the ancient archietect of Petra. Because of time limitation and for the sake of experience, I took a donkey up to the monastery while the boys hiked up to the top. Towards the end of the day the five of us rushed back to the airport to drop off Miles, Marko, and Kevin. That was followed by a nice dinner with the branch president, his wife, and the dean of BYU. That night Aden and I discovered that the branch president was an outdoor maniac. I guess he doesn't have much opportunity to talk about his adventures because that was all he did that night. He also warned Aden not to expect any sympathy from me because he certainly doesn't from his wife. Aden already knows that he gets no sympathy from me when he comes back with injuries. More injuries, less symathy.

Day 4

Our last day was spent with me driving around Jordan! We rented a car and drove to the claimed baptismal site of Jesus Christ. The spot where they claimed Jesus was baptized was dried up but we got to touch the Jordan river. Then we went to Waddi Mujib. Aden went to check the price and came back dissapointed since we had less than half of the cost for both of us. We didn't come all the way to Jordan to be turned down so I went and talked with the owner. We end up paying whatever we had left and went into the canyons. I felt like I stepped into Southern Utah. The canyons looked just like the Narrows in Zions Canyon. The trail ended with a beautiful waterfall. After getting our normal clothes wet, we changed into our swimsuits and headed straight to the dead sea. I didn't even have to taste the water to feel how salty the water was. Thanks to the increse density of the sea, we had a relaxing time floating away.