Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles

April 14, 2008

Other perspectives

Filed under: Being There — Kaddee @ 8:39 pm

A City Where You Can’t Hear Yourself Scream” is a NYT piece on Cairo. I received it today from my father, with a note:

“Dear Kate & Jack – Thought you’d find this interesting. Your apartment must have very good windows and thick walls. Love, Dad”

As I wrote back, we DO have very thick walls – all concrete – great for blocking out street noise, but terrible for hanging artwork. We are also lucky, in that our windows look out over a central courtyard. There is noise, from the students, but very little compared to the noise that the NYT article talks about.

When the article mentions Tahrir Square, that is where I work. I only have to spend a handful of minutes in the square while I am walking to work, hailing a taxi, waiting in traffic, or crossing to another destination. In the short term, the noise is noticeable, but bearable. I’ve learned to ignore it – even get used to it. (Friends and visitors are stunned that Jack and I don’t even flinch at car horns, even when they are only millimeters from our elbows)

The references to lawn mowers, freight trains and jackhammers may be accurate, but, in my (not so humble) opinion, make it out to be worse than reality. Yes, it is loud. Yes, the noise is tiring. Yes, I am probably irreparably damaging my hearing. And it is not that horrible – it is just the way it is. El donya kidda (Life is like that).

April 4, 2008

Lucky Girl

Filed under: BONUS! — Kaddee @ 6:46 pm

4 April 2008

Frequently one has opportunities thrust upon them, merely by chance, right-place right-time, connections, whatever.

I realized today that I have had a number of these while in Egypt, that seemed “normal” due to the circumstances, but really aren’t. I’ll eventually catch up with posting some of them, but I’ll start with today.

Jack is doing some weekend volunteer computer work for the Giza Plateau Mapping Project / Ancient Egypt Research Associates. This group is under the direction of Mark Lehner – “THE GUY” when it comes to the Sphinx and much of Giza Plateau over the last 30 years.

Mark Lehner showing how the sedimentary rock “dips” in the region of the Sphinx

Today, Mark did a “Giza Quarries” tour for the group members – and I was able to go along (Thank You, Jack!)! We walked the site, by each of the three main pyramids and looked at “each hole for each pile” (quarry for pyramid).

Mark showing us the “Hole” for the pyramid of Khufu (not in shot)

We were out walking hiking (hard) for about 3 hours, in the midday heat (I think it was about 25 or 27 deg. C and brilliant sun). During the entire tour, Mark Lehner was striding off in different directions, explaining over his shoulder what he and other eminent archaeologists/Egyptologists think, or thought, or were completely wrong about at some point, in regards to the geology, carving of the blocks and building of the structures. It was incredible!

Mark IN one of the lateral channels used for carving out the large foundation blocks
Mark indicating the square “lever sockets” used to “snap” the stone blocks out of the formation – note the lateral channel just to the right of the line of lever sockets

I won’t look at the plateau and its features the same way EVER again. Whole vast areas of “uninteresting waste” now have meaning in the history and building of the necropolis temples. Even after all the tourist trips to Giza – today made me slack-jawed all over again.

I am a lucky girl (I won’t discuss my intense jealousy at the last one of these tours that Jack got to go on – WITHOUT ME! You’ll have to read about that on Jack’s blog)