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Tuesday, April 30th, 2002


Israelis Bombed 9/11?
While waiting for the others to come out of the temple at Edfu, and when it became apparent that Bob wasn’t going to buy anything, Bob was invited into a seller’s shop for tea. The seller, who seemed more educated than usual here, wanted to talk about things…did Americans think, he asked, if the massacre of 59 tourists at Luxor was masterminded by the Israelis? No, Bob said, no one in America that he knew thought that. “We think it was the Israelis,” he responded confidently.

The same rumor was going around the Arabic world after 9/11 that the Israelis had done it. Seems to be incomprehensible to some middle eastern people we have met that Osama or any Muslim could be responsible for such mass killing.

Search For Truth In Egypt

Tuesday, April 30th, 2002

Cafes and Food
You can have what Bob calls “mystery meat,” which in Egypt is called kebab-lamb or chicken sliced from a vertical spit-very good in pita bread. Kofta is ground meat peppered with spices, skewered and grilled. You can find delicious spit roasted chicken. Tagen is a stew cooked in a deep clay pot with onions, tomatoes and rice or cracked wheat. Stuffed cabbage leaves are called mahshi karumb. Fried fish is great. Kushari is tiny noodles, tomato juice, lemon and onions looking somewhat like a soup.

We were welcomed into one empty cafe and graciously given the best seat upstairs near a window where we could look out on the street while eating kushari, a “traditional Egyptian dish” as the proprietor called it. He gives us an idea that if we could get away from the sellers that the Egyptian people would be wonderfully hospitable and gracious. We were touched.

In certain cafes men sit, play backgammon and smoke sheesha pipes.

No knobs on anything in the hotel. Had to lift the toilet lid to figure out how to flush and while leaning over the toilet tank the fan blades from the fan above fell off and konked me on the head before bounding into the tub. Lonely Planet uses Budget, Mid Range and Top End for classifying hotels and this was a MidRange which I think is a pretty good gauge of the local economy. Takes money they don’t have to clean and repair.

Ongoing Search for Truth
When I was in college, ironically, a book by the great theologian Martin Buber called “I and Thou” gave me my first understanding about bridging the gap between the “I” and the different “thou.”

More recently cross cultural writers have been writing about the concept of “the stranger” describing our fear of the “different” as a genetically built-in survival response mechanism that is a healthy one when used to keep ourselves safe, but if we are not aware of our subtle responses on this level and let it operate when it is inappropriate then we can be very damaging to each other. Ahdaf Soueif writes in English and the theme of her autobiographical novel “In The Eye Of The Sun” is the notion of foreignness. Her latest novel “The Map of Love” was shortlisted for UK’s Booker prize.

Thinking about all this reminds me of an experience I had years ago when managing a student foreign exchange program. I gave a party for all the exchange students in my home and wanted to include some older students to provide perspective so I went to a local private University and was referred to three foreign students who happened to be from Saudi Arabia. While inter-viewing them I was told by one that our culture and our values were “ugly” to the Muslim “as if you took a lid off a garbage can and looked in!” The way he said it made me shiver. I didn’t invite two of them to the party even after they complained that American were not friendly and that as students here for the last two years they had never been invited into anyone’s home. If not to the party, I should have invited them to my home. The third did come to the party, cooked a fantastic chicken dinner for the students and is my friend in Salem still.

A Felluca Ride Up The Nile

Tuesday, April 30th, 2002
gvSQ2vhpltKkixr9PjGld0-2006186175750571.gif In Aswan, a felluca, an ancient sailboat of the Nile, is a common means of transport up and down the Nile River. It has a broad canvas sail and the boat itself has ... [Continue reading this entry]

Cultivating Hate In Children

Tuesday, April 30th, 2002
gvSQ2vhpltKkixr9PjGld0-2006186175750571.gif On the same day that Arafat finally condemned the terrorism against Israel, his wife, who lives in Paris, granted an interview with an Arabic-language magazine, Al Majalla, wherein she endorsed suicide attacks as legitimate ... [Continue reading this entry]

US News From Egypt

Tuesday, April 30th, 2002
News in the International Press Subjects we have been reading about lately have often covered the European Union, deregulation of the labor market, global economic trends, immigration problems, agricultural pollicy and the issues stemming from the World Trade Organization agreements, market ... [Continue reading this entry]

A Coptic Christian Guide

Monday, April 29th, 2002
gvSQ2vhpltKkixr9PjGld0-2006186175750571.gif In Luxor we did have a tour guide and it made all the difference. We were able to enjoy the sights without being constantly by the touts. A Coptic Christian, he explained ... [Continue reading this entry]

Driving & Cueing in Egypt

Sunday, April 28th, 2002
Drivers have immense patience with each other-each car gives way to the others like a million fish in a school swimming this way and that...narrowly missing one another but gracefully swerving away in time...implicit cooperation you would never see in ... [Continue reading this entry]

Diplomacy Egyptian Style

Sunday, April 28th, 2002
As westerners we are not used to the constant demands for "baksheesh" (tipping) that make you want to blow your stack...and then they want you to be happy about it! Salaries and wages are so low that baksheesh becomes ... [Continue reading this entry]

Images of Egypt

Friday, April 26th, 2002
All we have to offer regarding Egypt are images.Very little understanding. We were open; wanted to understand, feeling generous and happy. Smiling. Saying hello to everyone. Thinking we were making we have only flashes of ambiguous feeling... When Americans ... [Continue reading this entry]

Cairo Egypt

Sunday, April 21st, 2002
gvSQ2vhpltKkixr9PjGld0-2006186175750571.gif On April 21, 2002 while waiting for our flight from Athens to Cairo, we visited briefly with a gentleman sitting next to us who was on his way to Alexandria for what we thought ... [Continue reading this entry]

Leaving Athens

Saturday, April 20th, 2002
On our last day in Athens as I was checking email I struck up a conversation with an American guy next to me. He had been on a U.S. city Police Force seven years when he applied for a ... [Continue reading this entry]

Santorini & Sifnos

Friday, April 12th, 2002
pjSwKsKjPzr5gOYYAx9PKM-2006172105305371.gif As the ferry approached the island through the caldera you see a red-brown black and pumice grey terraced cliff face that looms hundreds of feet above the water with brilliant-white buildings with blue trim ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bob & The Greeks Again

Wednesday, April 10th, 2002
Bob had some more adventures on the ferry the morning of April 13th. He saw big cups and little espresso cups by the coffee machine and said he wanted a big cup of coffee. The waiter said he only ... [Continue reading this entry]

Stuck In A Train In Napflion

Wednesday, April 10th, 2002
pjSwKsKjPzr5gOYYAx9PKM-2006172105126681.gif Train Trip to Nafplion The next morning we walked to Syntagma Plaza to took the metro to the port at Piraeus for departure to some of the Greek islands by ferry. But we had just ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bob And The Greeks

Tuesday, April 9th, 2002
How to Develop Your Patience by Traveling On the plane to Athens the stewardess came by with a refreshment cart and Bob, who was on the inside seat and couldn't see, asked for coffee. She told him he couldn't have coffee ... [Continue reading this entry]

Athens Greece

Tuesday, April 9th, 2002
pjSwKsKjPzr5gOYYAx9PKM-2006172111649438.gif Landed in Eletherios Venizelo airport and everyone clapped as is often the custom around much of the world. Took a one hour bus ride from the airport to Monastiraki Square Station at Syntagma Square in ... [Continue reading this entry]

St. Peter’s House

Tuesday, April 9th, 2002
The Vatican City, one of the most sacred places in Christendom, attests to a great history and a formidable spiritual venture. A unique collection of artistic and architectural masterpieces lie within the boundaries of this small state. At its centre ... [Continue reading this entry]


Monday, April 8th, 2002
"Italy will return to the splendors of Rome, said the major. I don't like Rome, I said. It is hot and full of fleas. You don't like Rome? Yes, I love Rome. Rome is the ... [Continue reading this entry]

Last Night In Florence

Sunday, April 7th, 2002
April 24, 2002 On the last day in Florence our room was booked by someone else and we had to move a few doors up the street to the Hotel Abaci. We had the Boticelli Room-pretty fancy compared to what ... [Continue reading this entry]

Michelangelo’s David

Saturday, April 6th, 2002
Bob is going on a walking tour where he will learn how the Renaissance Medici family ruled and held onto their city as an independent state for three centuries in face of pressure from the Papacy and how they commissioned ... [Continue reading this entry]

Serendipity Florence

Friday, April 5th, 2002
Well, we are in Florence, by serendipity, on April 5, 2002. By that I mean that we were on the train from Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera headed to Siena when we realized we would be going through Florence ... [Continue reading this entry]

Cinque Terre

Monday, April 1st, 2002
k08zEG1a840cNznVAe7p30-2006172142756225.gif Took a train to the Cinque Terre (Five Lands..or villages) area on the northern Italian Riviera. The Ligurian coast between Cinque Terre and Portovenere is a cultural landscape of great scenic and cultural value. The ... [Continue reading this entry]