Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Moses is slipping

There was a sudden *whunk,* the baggage carousel froze, and darkness fell upon the land of Egypt the power went off throughout Cairo international airport. Moses must be slipping however, for the darkness did not last three days, closer to three minutes...

Perhaps this is merely a result of the nature of the places to which I have chosen to travel, but I seem to have an uncanny ability for finding myself in the middle of violent protests or political upheaval when traveling abroad. I was teargassed in France, passing through a pack of discontent students and citizens who had the audacity to chuck a trashcan at a chain link fence in front of the deserted Sorbonne (in true French nature, they were protesting a bill which would have allowed employers to actually fire new employees who demonstrated complete incompetence at their jobs, rather than being forced to retain them. Oh the injustice!). While in Nairobi, there were bombings at demonstrations prior to the vote for their new constitution, and I had to be prudent about my fashion decisions while traveling around Kenya, as the haphazard choice of green or red attire could have had brutal consequences if one happened upon the territory of an adverse faction. I arrived in Madagascar just after a military coup. Now demonstrators have intermittently swarmed the street in front of my hotel in Cairo, angered not by the election, but about a ban on the import of old computers from America. An exciting knack, if not the most prudent.

My cameras are packed away, it hasn't seemed worthwhile to unpack them and repack them for potential use in the few hours I've had free in Cairo. Even if they were unpacked, I doubt I would have taken many pictures, because most of my time has been spent in cars (in the legendary, horrific traffic) and I have a strong, perhaps unreasonable, aversion to taking pictures from cars. Aside from often being blurry and affected with glare, reflections and the other hazards of photographing through dingy glass, it just makes me feel like a creep. I love taking candid shots of people, but that doesn't make it not entirely rude and invasive. It is one thing to be a tourist and gawk at the monuments, shutter snapping with almost belligerent eagerness, but to be a foreigner leering out my car window with my heinously enormous lens stealing images of the locals just seems too tasteless.

So, because of these reasons, here are a few of the surely amazing photographs that I failed to take thus far:

-- Three men in pink shirts riding a pink motor scooter. Not matching shirts, just coincidentally all pink.
--Hazy sunset on the Nile
-- An additional two men in purple shirts atop a purple motor scooter. The residents of Cairo seem to have a penchant for matching their attire with their motorized bi-wheeled transportation.
--Protestors in Tahrir Square
--A man effortlessly wending through traffic by bicycle, balancing several long and unruly palettes on his head

The battery in my laptop must have been a firstborn, as it is just about to die...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Last Rain

The sky is electric, but down here we are sodden. This will be the first and last rain for me for quite a long time, one day of damp between deserts. On one overcast day when I was young, I remember invoking the gods of ancient Egypt, kneeling by an apple tree with my friend who was named for the woods, and pleading for rain. They didn't grant our request, in fact the sun almost immediately came out, which should have come as little surprise to us. Those immortals brought nothing but sun to Egypt, why should they have responded differently for us?

Despite the apparently inapt choice of desert gods for our rainy request, my woodsy friend and I would never have bothered with any more appropriate deities for our playful summons. We were obsessed with Egypt, and at least one of us still is.

Tomorrow I fly to Egypt to dig at an archaeological site in ancient Thebes (or more ancient Waset), a scenario which, as a child, would have seemed as fantastic, thrilling and impossible as conjuring up rain clouds.

Thunder has just announced the abating of the rain, so I need to scramble home while I can...to be continued in drier climes.