a unique perspective on this crazy world

I am writing this from Amsterdam sitting on the Prinsengracht on a perfect sunny day.  Life doesn’t get much better than this.  An incredible ending to a wonderfully memorable trip.

I haven’t done anything really noteworthy in the past couple of days.  Just trolling around the city without a map, acting like a Europhile.  Amsterdam offers all the elements of a perfect marriage – security, a sense of humour, mutual attraction and just enough of a naughty streak to keep things fresh and exciting.  I may end up spending so much time here I will be coerced into learning Dutch 😉

Apparently I also need to learn how to make Dutch pancakes.  This is the first time I’ve had them.  Have now had three different versions of varying quality and Peter taught me how to eat them like a local rather than a tourist 🙂  At least I can ride a bike, know how to dance at some passable level, drink beer, am learning to appreciate football and have a sense of humour – so I am partly on my way to becoming Dutch.  I will draw the line at wearing orange however.  My least favourite colour of them all.

The point of this posting though is mostly to pull together the missing pieces from Egypt…

I realized that I had missed Abu Simbel in my temple list.  Built by Ramses II (the longest reigning pharaoh) and moved from its original location and reconstructed as part of a UNESCO project to protect it from water damage after the Aswan Dam was constructed, it is one of the most iconic sites in Egypt.

I am still working on getting all the gods straight – and following their path through the Pharaohs, the Greeks, the Romans, the Ottoman Empire and everybody else that wanted their piece of the famous country on the Nile.  I think Abu Simbel is in honour of the falcon god along with another one or two others… the cow goddess maybe?  What is really impressive are the statues of Ramses II at different ages (he lived into his nineties, a really impressive feat at that time).

We did a few other things that did not involve sand, sun, temples or tombs.  One of the most relaxing activities was a felucca ride on the Nile.  This is how most Egyptians tour the Nile.  We were all a bit concerned we had to wear life jackets for the ride but it was very calm and peaceful so we decided they were more for show.

Our other cultural adventures were less relaxing for me.  On the second night on the boat they organized a belly dancer and a whirling dervish.  Taking photos of both of them definitely a challenge but watching them highly entertaining.  We were particularly wowed by the whirling dervish.  Obviously he doesn’t get dizzy very easily!

I must look too friendly because I was perfectly happy just taking photos of the belly dancer – but, no, I had to be dragged up with her immediately.  I was really impressed by her ability to shake her booty but I was more the comedy act part of the show 🙂

Apparently my lousy belly dancing was easily overlooked because the next night was “Egypt night”and we all dressed up in gallabeyahs and were supposed to be entertained by Egyptian music after dinner.  The tour info DID say everyone would be dancing.  What I hadn’t appreciated was that I would be dancing EVERY song!

I just wanted to get some good photos but that made me obvious so Khalid had me on the dance floor by the second song.  I kept trying to leave but if I managed to sit out an entire song I would be dragged back up.

Luckily for me the guys were great dancers so I just had to try and not step on their toes.  A few times they got a whole crowd on the floor and tried to teach us complicated dance moves.  I imagine it looked pretty funny if you were lucky enough to be sitting on the sidelines.

I had taken advantage of our relaxed schedule that day and actually got more than four hours of sleep.  What I hadn’t realized is that all the gallabeyahs left would be size L and up.  Tito tried to convince me if I had woken earlier I could have purchased something in my size.  I’m not sure… He was very gracious and tried to see if he could make my size 4 garment (I was a size 1 according to him) seem less like a sack… apparently it didn’t stop people from asking me to dance…

The highlight of the night for me was when they played YMCA.  The guys knew ALL the moves – I had forgotten there were so many.  Since I couldn’t get anyone on the dance floor at my party, I finally got to dance to one of the songs on my birthday soundtrack!  And I can still twist!  Almost to the floor… and back up again – without breaking a hip.  The Egyptian guys were impressed!

Tomorrow Egyptians go to the polls for their historic elections.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed they will get a decent government that can steer them down the path that will rid them of that pesky “developing economy” label.  There are definitely parts of Egypt that feel like a developed western economy.  But lots of Egyptians are still struggling economically.

The Egyptians I met were easy to fall for and to use their lingo – it will break my heart if they don’t get the kind of government they so richly deserve and valiantly fought for.

We end on a personal note – a huge thank you to Riccardo, Sonia, Sameh, Tito and Mohammed for taking such amazing care of me in Egypt – my mom really didn’t need to worry – but they all know about her 😉

Will post some more photos over the next couple of days to provide some visual cues for the text.

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