Thursday, July 27, 2006

Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Don't Forget Iraq

I haven't posted in awhile because I've been too upset about what's going on with Lebanon and Israel.

Beirut has always been called the "Paris of the Middle East."

I know someone who traveled to Lebanon over this past winter and she returned to Cairo saying that Beirut was an absolutely beautiful city with the best nightlife in the Middle East.

Now parts of Beirut and greater Lebanon are being blown to bits. Why? Because Hezbollah kidnapped Israeli soldiers, and Israel in return is bombing the hell out of Lebanon. Everyday there are reports that Israel has bombed another city, with civilian casualties, and the Israeli Army responds (paraphrasing) . . . "it is never our (Israeli) intention to hurt civilians." OK, so is that why they are using heat guided missiles to take out apartment buildings? Is that why there are severe phosphorus burns on childrens' bodies?

Hezbollah should not have taken Israeli soldiers as prisoners. I don't think Israel knows how else to respond other than with military power.

I realize I am being one-sided.

I believe Israel has a right to exist. I also believe Palestine has a right to exist as its own nation without being caged like prisoners in the concentration camps during WWII.

I believe Lebanon should be left alone without being invaded by Israeli soldiers.
There is a reason Syrias soldiers were in Southern Lebanon for so long -- to keep Israel out of Lebanon. Now that Syrian troops have left, Israel seized an opportunity to re-enter Lebanon with no clearcut exit strategy. I don't think they have any intention of leaving Lebanon.

Hezbollah is not innocent by any means either. They are just as guilty as the Israelis in bombing Israel, in the taking of prisoners and the killing of innocent civilians.

I found out that Hezbollah takes care of the poor in Lebanon. They provide shelter, health care, education. And now with Lebanon at war, the refugees in Syria are being aided by Hezbollah. They are doing this because no one else is taking care of the refugees fleeing Lebanon.

While the Middle East war continues, innocent Iraqis are being bombed by "insurgents."

In Iraq it is Sunni vs. Shia. Nowhere else in the world are Sunnis and Shias against each other. Here in Egypt one is "Muslim" regardless if one is Sunni or Shia.

The Quran says that if one takes the life of an innocent human being it is as if they have killed the whole world.

Pray for Peace in the world.



Friday, July 21, 2006

Went Back to the North Coast

We just returned from an 11 day stay on the North Coast again. We took Aunt Olfat, who is very ill with breast cancer, to see Fawzeyya's apartment at the beach. Olfat was thrilled that we were taking her, seeing as her children are not able to take her on a vacation for whatever reason (no comment here).

Hassan and I spent most of our time making sure Olfat was comfortable and had everything she needed, including making sure her medicine was taken at the appropriate time and her dermagesic patch for pain was changed every three days.

Mira met a girl at the beach, Noura, who was staying two apartments away and played with her almost all the time. When Mira wasn't playing with Noura she was playing with her cousin Munno (Mohamed) who is 4 years old and the new cousins we just met.

We had a chance to meet cousins from Mansoura who arrived during our vacation time. Mahmoud and his wife Hoda have three sons; I mean three young men (I thought they were much younger before I met them): Ahmed (20), Mohamed (17), and Osama (14) -- very well rounded, bright guys. They were very friendly and quite tolerant with Mira's behavior, even though Hassan and I were embarassed at times. Mira's into her "I hate boys" stage.

So with Aunt Fawzeyya, Aunt Olfat, the cousins from Mansoura, Uncle Yehia, Aunt Fatma, and their daughter Maya (her husband Osama was there for a few days) and son Munno, we always had something to do, and more than enough to eat. We even were able to see Hassan's other uncle, Hillel, and his family at times during our stay.

Whew! That's enough, don't you think?

I came to the conclusion that all families are the same, with the same dynamics and personalities. Yes, the same holds true here in Egypt -- avoid religion and politics when you get together with family. It is probably a blessing I didn't understand what they were talking about - seeing as my understanding of Arabic is still very lacking.

We are back at home for a week or so before we head over to Ain Sokhna for a few days.



Wednesday, July 05, 2006

World Cup Fever

First it was the Africa Cup of Nations, now it's the World Cup. I know I miss American football, but nothing beats the World Cup. I remember watching it for the first time many years ago with Maggie's Mom and another person (who shall remain nameless), at a restaurant in Chincoteague, VA where my family used to vacation. We were in the middle of nowhere and we found ourselves at a restaurant/bar just to watch the World Cup. None of the local yahoos seemed too interested except for the three of us. I went because I didn't have anything else to do that day and in the end I was a soccer, or should I say, football, fanatic.

Hassan and I have been watching as many games as we can, but since it is more of a pay per view event here, we've missed out on many of the games. We were unable to watch the US game, ok, we caught a bit of it at a cafe, but had to leave. We were sorry the US lost, but continued on watching other games anyway.

The momentum of each game brought with it its own fan base. Many of the Egyptians here cheered for Ghana, Tunisia and France. I watched last night's game at home with Mira - we found the game after much searching on the satellite where it was broadcasted for all to see. Hassan was with his boys watching the game in Faisal.

I bought Mira a small needlepoint kit last night and she and I stitched our own projects for the entire soccer match. I was impressed with Mira's endurance in stitching during the entire game, even though she sang an Egyptian song for 2 hours (boosie wa wa) -- it's about a boo boo. The girl is very sexy and dresses quite revealing by anyone's standards, but Mira likes the little baby in the video. Yeah, the men probably like the baby too -- not.

Tonight we hope to go to Lilly Park, which is a large cafe/restaurant/small amusement park for kids, to watch France and Portugal. We will need to get there very early to get a table. I can't remember what game it was two weeks ago, where people were sitting in the grass watching the game. At least I know they'll have fresh hot cappuccino in the cool 82 F degree evening.



Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Egypt's North Coast

We went to the North Coast of Egypt to get away from Cairo and spend some time with Aunt Fawzeyya, Uncle Yehia and Aunt Fatma. We returned late last night, or should I say early this morning.

The North Coast begins about one half hour west of Alexandria and continues to the Egyptian/Libyan border. It is beautiful there. The air is clean, and it is always breezy and cool. The Mediterranean water is various shades of clear blue, and the sand is colored an off white a little larger than a grain of sugar.

Uncle Yehia/Aunt Fatma have a chalet (apartment) overlooking the sea. We have been looking for one for a short time, and in the time we've been looking to buy, Aunt Fawzeyya (Yehia's sister) bought one about three weeks ago also in the same development.

We arrived at the Coast on Wednesday afternoon. It was hot and humid, not much of a breeze. Hassan called the cleaning people and had them come and completely clean out Aunt Fawzeyya's chalet before her arrival. She is 80 years old (Mash'Allah) and although she is very independent and sharper than a tack so to speak, she still appreciates the help.

Yehia, Fawzeyya and Fatma arrived on Thursday so we had one whole day to ourselves. It was really relaxing.

Fawzeyya is very proud to have her chalet. As she should be. She has always talked about buying a place, but never parted with the money. No one thought she would; but she did this time.

One of the reasons Fawzeyya loves it there is because it's always quiet. In Cairo she lives in Ramses Square. It is always loud, hot, and polluted. Her apartment in Cairo is quite large (can't even describe how large it is) and the building is about 100 years old. There is an old elevator with the iron/steel gates. Her ceilings are about 13 feet high. There are even gargoyles adorning the exterior of her apartment, which can be seen and felt.

I guess I always loved old buildings, old furniture and lots of trinkets that people collect over their lifetimes. It says so much about them and what they were like when they were younger and more active.

Back to the North Coast.

There is a large souk (marketplace) on the one end of the development in which we were staying. (It remids me of the boardwalks and amusement parks that used to be in Sea Isle and the Jersey Shore along the US years ago.) Mira had a blast at the souk. She went on rides, stayed up late, and ate the favorite sweet of the sea - fateer.

Fateer is a pastry made up of many thin layers and stuffed with whatever you want. You can get fateer in pizza form, cheese form, or sweet form. Mira fell in love with the sweet form on this trip. She also got Uno cards, and a baseball cap -- never knew she wanted one, but we figured out quickly that each time we went to the souk she found something else she has been "looking" for (not really, but nice try Mira).

I finally found my pure gardenia perfume. There is a small store there that will mix pure fragrances into perfumes. The bottle I got cost 10 LE which is about $2.25 USD. I also found a "proper" bathing suit by Islamic/Egyptian standards - it was 63 LE or about $12 USD. I don't wear the hijab part of the bathing suit yet, but the rest felt quite comfortable on the beach, not worrying about anyone looking at me -- and by the way it's not psychological. It is a fact. I wanted to buy some hijabs I found there, but decided to wait until we return the next time, or I will buy them around here -- I like the cotton gauze kind for summer.

Before we left late last night, 11 p.m., all of us went to a shish kebob place along the side of the road. It didn't look like much, but once you walked in it was beautiful. Trust Uncle Yehia to find the best food around. We all ate shish kebob enough meat for at least a week, along with the usual snacks of tabboulah, tahina, baba ganoush, all kinds of vegetables stuffed with rice (grape leaves, green pepers, zucchini, etc.) and something called Turkish potatoes, which come to find out is a terrific vinegar/oil potato salad; good for me because I don't like mayonnaise.

There was a terrific playground for Mira to play, and she even ate all her macaroni bechamel that we ordered for her. She made some friends for the short time we were there.

Safety is never an issue in Egypt.

Yes, life is tough living in the "war zone."