LISTEN RECOVERY: David Dolnick, Egypt trip. photos and letter part 2

Hi Friends,

Ok, so I waited to send this note to you until the weekend. I have had many people email me about being jealous (even though Bronwyn says the proper term should be “envious”—don’t worry, I didn’t know either) and I wasn’t about to send this note out until everyone was in a better mood. : )

An old landlord of mine had a magnet on her fridge that read “Life is what happens in between making plans.” Our plan was to take an 8-hour bus from Cairo to Taba (at the Egypt/Israeli border), then cross the Israeli/Jordan border, and then take a 3-hour cab to Petra. However, after spending a few days in Cairo and seeing plenty of their buses, that plan started to seem less and less desirable. Although the cabs in Jordan are supposed to be nicer, that isn’t saying much. The buses are awful; overcrowded, smoking, no AC, people hanging out the back doors (literally), etc… and the bus terminal looks like chaos (make that chaos on steroids)—and did I mention it’s the desert? We also weren’t sure if there was a reliable route back (even the Egyptian travel agents at the hotel couldn’t tell us, and when they tried to call the bus company, no one ever answered).

Although we both would LOVE to see Petra, we reminded ourselves that this is a vacation, not an archeological expedition, and that more comfortable and western-friendly methods of getting to Petra would have been very expensive, and should have been booked in advance. Renting a car was out of the question.

So we asked ourselves, where would we like to spend our weekend before Turkey? We wanted to go somewhere close and relatively inexpensive (to both get there and stay there), so we chose Mykonos. To go from the Greek Islands to the desert was rough, so we’ve retreated back and it freakin’ rocks. We just got here and went to dinner. I won’t bore you with more fantastic sunset pictures but I do hope to show you pictures later about the insane nightlife this place has to offer. So far most of the girls we’ve seen look like Nicole Ritchie clones, and when they remove those fantastic (that is me being sarcastic) bug-eye sunglasses, they all look like they haven’t slept in 2 days. Tons of gay men as well, crazy that they would have been imprisoned in the country we were in 6-hours prior. I never thought I’d say this but oh those tolerant Greeks!

So Obama came and left Egypt. He apparently didn’t need my help, which is unfortunate, because I would have loved to play some basketball with him and/or save his life. I watched his speech on TV and it was fantastic. He highlighted and gave promise to so many issues that I have seen and read about this region. I have never felt so proud to be an American.

I also wanted to spend a few seconds (errrr… sentences) on a few things I didn’t highlight from Cairo.
–When I first saw this sign I was shocked—I had only seen such pathetic displays in books about civil rights. The picture is attached, “No Ladies in the Door.” I hope that provides a final exclamation mark on my comments about the prevailing attitude towards women around these parts.
–We visited a carpet/rug-making school/workshop. When kids are very young (5 or 6), many parents have them forgo school for a “better life” making carpets. This “better life” should make us all very thankful. The attached pic is of a young kid making a silk rug. There is a good chance that is all this kid will do his entire life. A 3 x 3 meter piece takes 3 months to make, hence the US $15,000 price tag (although he will probably only pocket $200/month of that).
— Walking fast through the market someone yelled at us, “Hey you, you walk like an Egyptian!” That was the funniest thing someone yelled at us (although “I love you” to Bronwyn was funny the first time, but maybe just to me). For some reason they also yelled “Shakira” at her numerous times. Since she looks nothing like her, we are still confused.
–Gambling in Egypt – they only accepted US dollars—very strange. I’m in Africa, and they only take Uncle Sam’? (BTW, we only bet $40 just to say we did, and we lost)
–Many people fish in the Nile. Looking at the water it doesn’t seem like a good idea, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
— People just hang out on the freeways. I’m still not sure why but I have seen small buses pick them up. I think it’s an artificial bus stop, but I’m still not sure. It looks incredibly dangerous.
–Leaving Egypt I was asked to show my passport and boarding pass 6 different times. Seriously, 6 times.

In Cairo, we ate twice at a fantastic restaurant called Abu El Sid (www.deyafa.net) very close the Marriott. The first time Bronwyn outlawed pictures (it’s a semi-classy joint) but the next time I demanded it. I’ve attached pics of the falafel (which is flat and light in color, unlike the more rounded and dark ones I’m used to in the US) and it was amazing, as was everything else. We didn’t really sit at tables, more like a coffee table seating.

At this restaurant, and like most others, smoking the hooka is part of the meal. They call it “shisha” and it smells AWFUL – sickeningly sweet, like rotten cotton candy or what I would think a gummy bear factory would smell like. I hate the smell of cigarettes, but I literally BEG for people to light up just to drown out that shisha smell. And thankfully the food is so good (at least at this restaurant) it momentarily overwhelms the nauseating fumes.

So since it’s the weekend, I don’t mind telling y’all that I’m off to the beaches of Mykonos and then to visit the nightlife. I’ll update you later but please note internet access is not as pervasive on this crazy island and I may be “dark” for a bit.

Peace from the islands again,

David Dolnick

Listen Recovery

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