Things I’ll Miss #3

23 Mar

Miscellaneous unique experiences-

Last week, the Cairo branch Relief Society (our church’s women’s organization), like Relief Societies around the world, celebrated the organization’s founding. In most wards, this involves a birthday party, usually at the church building. In Cairo, however, this is a perfect excuse for a sail down the Nile.

There was a great wind and it was a perfect day, despite the breeze being cool. We had a great turnout, about 20 women, and listened to some really inspiring remarks by Sara and Sharon, then relaxed and enjoyed the sail while munching on a yummy lunch.

Our group on the felucca

Our group on the felucca

RS Presidency- (from top left) Sharon, Pam, me and Jill

RS Presidency- (from top left) Sharon, Pam, me and Jill

Our boatman was delighted to have a ship full o' ladies.

Our boatman was delighted to have a ship full o' ladies.

Then last week, as a RS enrichment activity, we went horseback riding out by the pyramids. You may remember our last trip, taken in the dead of night. This time we went during the day and with a more reputable and well named stable.

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When they trotted out my horse they told me his name was Michael Jackson. I climbed on and immediately got nervous when they said “you are an expert rider, I hope” and proceeded to tell me that I needed to keep a tight rein and show the horse control at all times. They weren’t telling the other ladies this. Sharon heard the man call my horse Michael Jackson and protested. Last time she used the stable, Michael Jackson was the horse that was wild and uncontrollable. The man quickly said “no, not Michael Jackson, I made a mistake, this is Rambo!” Uh huh, yeah, great.

The ride was wonderful. Jacko/Rambo was itching to run, and so was I.  We passed through the small village of stables and emerged onto the open desert with the pyramids to our right. We ran for a while, then went up a hill and gave the horses a break while we took pictures and waited for others to catch up.

We went down to the pyramids and were heading back when Sharon’s horse went wild and took off in a dead run and mine decided to race him. We were flying over the desert, so fast that I started to get really scared. I kept trying to get my horse to stop but he wouldn’t obey any of my actions. I was praying and watching the dunes fly by and thinking that if I fell at this speed I’d get hurt pretty badly. My horse had left Sharon’s behind long ago and just kept going faster. He bucked back when I pulled back on the reins, so I started forcing him to turn over and over until he had slowed down and finally got him to stop. Sharon’s horse charged to a stop next to me, she was a total wreck. Let me just say that between the two of us, there were some pretty choice four letter bombs being dropped. Lydia’s horse had gone nuts too and the guide had to run after and rescue her. We had gone so far so fast that the rest of our group was totally out of sight and took a while to catch up to us. Despite the death-defying trip back, the whole day was a lot of fun.

Heading out into the desert

Heading out into the desert

Me and a random camel

Me and a random camel

Last experience to share: last week Scott, Patrick’s once and future boss from ND, was here to give lectures at AUC. He had a few free days, so we took him out to see the sites. We went to al-Azhar mosque and were looking for a book binding market that’s around the back. A man asked us what we were looking for and Patrick and Scott told him and I rolled my eyes and sighed. Amateurs.  Just as I suspected, the guy started leading us to the book market, winding us through alleys filled with goats and men playing cards. Finally, he stopped at a dead end where a man, definitely a friend of his, was making mother of pearl boxes that are sold at the Khan.  Patrick and Scott feigned interest, not wanting to be rude. I, on the other hand, barked at the guy, then turned and led us out of there.

We went into the mosque, Patrick and Scott chagrined for falling for the oldest trick in the book. While we were inside the mosque, a man came up and started explaining the architecture. Again, I turned away, knowing that this guy would want baksheesh. Then he said the magic words “would you like to go up the minaret?” I squealed and said yes! and started following him out the mosque and over to the main minaret. Patrick and Scott couldn’t stop laughing at my willingness to be conned so I could go up a minaret. But seriously, a minaret! I have a love affair with minarets. I want to climb them, paint them, take lots and lots of pictures of them. We climbed up the pitch black staircase up and up and up,  while our guy told us that women were terrible and he had multiple wives, etc etc. Finally we got to the top and it was amazing. The man stood next to Scott and Patrick and demonstrated the call to prayer while they shifted awkwardly next to him.

The guide, of course, asked for money for the “mosque restoration fund” and then more for himself. As we descended the minaret staircase in total darkness. He said “stop, wait here.” We stopped and heard him climbing down to the bottom. We got really nervous, sure that he was planning to lock us in. Instead he just opened the bottom door to let light in. We climbed out and went on our merry way. Totally worth the overpriced baksheesh that he demanded.

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6 Responses to “Things I’ll Miss #3”

  1. Dre March 24, 2009 at 1:09 am #

    Honestly, Melissa, I can’t believe you fell for that “Let me take you into my dark minaret” line from a gropy guy AGAIN!!

  2. Melissa March 24, 2009 at 3:29 pm #

    I know!!! You’d think I’d have learned by now!

  3. mom March 24, 2009 at 5:43 pm #

    “International Stud”????????????????????????

  4. Delaware April 18, 2009 at 7:24 am #

    I’m still Delaware.

  5. mom April 21, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    Ok. We’re in withdrawal here. Please update already!

  6. Javi April 24, 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    Yes, update before we think you got kidnapped by Egyptian pirates!!

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