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."




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