Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sailing North

The second day of sailing was more quiet than the first one had been. We didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to catch an airplane like the day before, we just got to wake up and eat breakfast and then watch the boat sail down the river to a place called Edfu. The people on the boat gave us a lot to eat and it was really nice food too, so everyone had a good breakfast. When we went back to the room, the cleaners had made a pretty flower out of a towel from the bathroom and left it on the bed. Then we went up to the top deck where the sun was finally getting to be stronger than the cold winds. I tried out the deck chairs around the swimming pool. They were pretty comfortable but there was nothing to watch since the people seemed to think that it was too cold for swimming. A moose would think that the temperature was perfect, but Maryanne told me not to get wet.

Since I wasn’t allowed to go swimming, we explored the boat a bit. I checked out the safety rings that they hang up around the boat in case someone is silly and falls into the water. I think that they are a little big for a small moose. I decided that it would be a good idea not to fall into the river. We looked all over the boat to see what there was. They had a couple of places where you could sit inside to watch the river and there was a shop where you could buy things from Egypt. I tried on a hat and thought that it was pretty cool, but Maryanne pointed out that we were always seeing people wanting to sell us things from Egypt so there was no reason to buy something right now.
We sailed past places where the valley was so narrow that we could see the desert just beyond the green palm trees and fields. There were parts of the river where it looked like the water had dried a bit to leave grass for cows and sheep to eat along the banks. At one spot, some children were playing on a sandbar in the middle of the river while their fathers fished in boats nearby. We weren’t the only big boats on the river. Others were sailing along by us and sometimes we could see the people sitting around on their top decks like we were. There were quite a few kids playing in the sun. It looked like they were having a good time.

In Edfu we left the boat and we went to the street where a lot of horses and carriages were waiting. We took one of the carriages and we rode to another temple where we saw a huge place. The walls were so tall it was amazing. The guide man told us that most of this temple had been buried under lots of sand for thousands of years and that the sand had protected it from being taken apart. The temple was for an Egyptian god called Horus who was in the shape of a falcon. There were carvings of men in Horus masks all over the walls of the temple and in one place we saw one where a little sparrow was sitting in the belly button of the Horus man. I guess that this is a bird temple for sure.

Later we went back to the boat and sailed some more. We went by many green fields of tall grass that people said were sugar cane. They said that people cut it down, smash it to get the juice out and then boil the juice to get sugar. I thought that was pretty interesting since sugar is white and powdery. In other places we saw the villages against the rocky cliffs of the desert. Some of the houses were the same colour as the desert and others were painted bright colours like blue and yellow. Many of them are made of mud brick because it keeps the house cool and is cheap. In some places they call these kinds of bricks adobe. It’s ok to make mud bricks here because it almost never rains to make the bricks melt.

Just about the time that the sun was setting we came to a place called Esna where we had to wait for the ship to have its turn to go through something called a lock. They said that in the old days there had been a narrow place in the river there where the the river dropped down and that it had been hard for boats to pass so the people made a special small lake with a passage so that a ship could go into a box, have water either put in or taken out to move up or down. There was a long time to wait for the ship to go through the locks, so I went to bed because the next day we would be in Luxor and I had to get up early.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Da Moose Goes Cruising

The farm here in Egypt is pretty interesting. Maryanne (she’s the lady who lives here and like me, she used to live in Canada) has horses, dogs, donkeys, chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, a mule, a water buffalo, some parrots, and now me, Da Moose. I think that she really likes animals. One of the horses is a little girl named Shams. Her mom got sick when she was born and the people have been feeding her milk from a bottle. She seems to think that she is a dog and plays with the dogs all day. Her mom is ok now, but Shams really likes the dogs.

You might think that life on a farm in Egypt is very boring, but lots of things happen here and there are lots of things to do. All kinds of people visit Maryanne. Some of them come to ride the horses, and some of them just come to visit. Just a week or so ago, some old friends came to visit Maryanne from the United States and she took me on a holiday with them to visit other parts of Egypt. It was so much fun. We went by airplane to Aswan where we got on a boat. We travelled by boat from Aswan, in the south of Egypt to Luxor, another city in the south of Egypt. We stopped every so often to see some of the interesting things along the way. The boat was really nice. It had a restaurant for meals and a bedroom with a window that we could look out at the river from. The river is called the Nile and it is really big.

In Aswan we went to a place where a very long time ago the Egyptians used to cut huge pieces of stone for tall towers. It seems like a strange thing to do, if you ask me because they had to cut the stone with very simple tools and it was a lot of work, but they say that they liked doing it. When I think about all the big, big pieces of stone that I saw in the buildings on our visits, it must be true. When we started the trip, it was still very wintery and cold (not for Canada, but for Egypt) and everyone was wearing sweaters. At the stone cutting place the sun was shining pretty strongly and one of the guards had fallen asleep in the shade of a stone. I decided to see if taking a nap on a rock was nice. The sun was ok, but the rock wasn’t very soft.

From the rock cutting place we went to the Aswan High Dam. This is a very high wall that the Egyptians built a long time ago to keep water from covering up the valley every year. Now all the water stays behind the dam and they just let enough out to take care of the farmers and the people who need water. Two of Maryanne’s friends had to hold my hands when we were sitting on the wall because it was so windy we were afraid I might fall.

I also looked at a picture that showed how the dam was put together and how they let the water out. There was so much water behind the dam that it looked like an ocean with islands in it. They say that there are very big fish there and even crocodiles but I didn’t see any.

From the Aswan Dam we went to a place where there are boats that we got to ride to an island called Philae. Philae was pretty interesting. It had something they called a temple that was built a couple of thousand years ago. That’s so long that it almost doesn’t make sense to me. There are very large walls there, but the man who was telling us all about the places said that they weren’t nearly as big as some other temple places’ walls. They were covered with pictures of very tall people wearing funny hats that everyone called crowns, and sometimes the people had animal masks on.

Visiting the temple was very warm work, climbing around the big, big stones and looking at all the pictures of the tall people. We went to find some water to drink and there was a dancing camel that the water man introduced me to. The camel danced a little for me and everyone laughed and enjoyed it. I was happy to make a new friend.

After Philae we got back in the bus and we all went back to the boat to sail down the river a while to a place called Kom Ombo where there was another temple for Maryanne and her friends to see. But they saw the temple there at night and it was past my bedtime so I didn’t see it. But the river was very pretty with the sail boats and the other small boats travelling up and down.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Da Moose Comes To Egypt

You might ask how a moose came to Egypt. Of course you will because I'm probably the only moose in Cairo. Well, my friend Paddi decided to run away from the snow in Alberta, Canada, and she asked me to come along. I like the sun as much as anyone else, so I said yes. We went to the airport where a bunch of people took suitcases from us and sent us to sit in a little room until the airplane was ready. Finally, someone called out on a radio to say that we could get on the plane. Paddi and I found our seat and we started our trip. Flying on airplanes is very boring and I fell asleep.

After a long time, I woke up to find myself in a much warmer place than Alberta. The sun was shining and Paddi told me that I was at a farm. The lady who owns the farm was giving horseback riding lessons in a big ring with a bunch of nice horses. I watched them for a while and then looked around to see who else was there. There were goats, sheep, something that looked like a cow but they were calling it a ga-moose. Do they have moose here? A lot of dogs. It's winter here and people were saying it's cold, but it was much warmer than Canada.

There were some smaller horses with fuzzy hair..they said that they were the paddock with the goats and the funny cow. Donkeys are very friendly but they don't seem to understand that pulling a moose off a fence by the ear isn't nice. But they were just being funny and wanted to play. I told them I could come and play another day.

There was one very small horse that kept coming up to visit me. The people said that her name is Shams which means sunshine. Usually very small horses are with their mothers, but Shams' mom had been sick so the people took care of her and fed her milk from a very big bottle and she follows people everywhere. They asked if I wanted to try riding a very small horse and I said sure. One of the guys there put me on her back to try riding but this riding is pretty tough. It's hard to keep your balance and I was getting pretty tired by this time. I am just a young moose after all. I wasn't so unhappy when Paddi said that it was time for bed. I fussed a bit just to make sure that no one thought I'd be happy to go to bed and miss all the rest of the fun, but really that pillow felt so nice. There would be plenty of time for more exploring the next day.