Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm a Little Upset.

Indeed. I've had to cancel 5 countries off my list of places to go this year. My year of exploring Africa and the Middle East came to a halting stop when the march for freedom began. Worth it? Definitely.

Still a little upset though, not gonna lie. I've had to cancel:

I would love to go to these places now, with all this turmoil. Experiencing the protests in Cairo was amazing. But to truly experience the cultures of these areas, I think it wouldn't be fair to visit during this time.

So what am I doing?? I'm hanging out in Egypt. Trying to understand this culture that has always confused and amazed me, and visiting some different areas of Egypt. I'll be heading out early May to somewhere far far away and hopefully not politically unstable, at which point this blog will become much more interesting once again :)


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Western Egyptian Desert

A place called the Siwa Oasis. A few friends and I took a trip there (about an 8 hour drive west of Cairo) and had a splendid time.

Here are some pictures :)

Meet Yousuf, greatest tour guide ever. A law student/tour guide who is very passionate about his city. He also taught us how to tie a professional looking Bedouin head piece like his!

A friend chilling at one of the oases we visited. This one was sort of like a mud bath, people just scooped up the mud at the bottom and gave themselves all sorts of facial masks with it. Very cool.

Music session! There was also lots of dancing involved. And pot smoking. No joke.

Another oasis we visited. This one was literally in the middle of the desert and about 15km from the Libyan border. And very very salty - a massive water fight shrunk my jeans about 3 inches unfortunately.

Sandboarding? At sunset? In the middle of the western desert? Check.

A friend displaying the traditional female face covering.

Tea + another oasis + sunset = peacefulness.

There was also one night where we camped out in the desert and I stayed up all night and watched the stars come out (there was only about a million), the moon rise, then witnessed a very lazy sun climb over the western horizon. It was an absolutely breathtaking night and I didn't even try taking any pictures because nothing would ever do it justice. It will remain just a most beautiful image in my mind's eye.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Still in Cairo

So, I should be flying from Kenya to Tanzania today. But I'm here in Cairo. I decided to cancel the East Africa leg of my trip to hang out in Egypt and help out with some development projects. The main one I'm helping out with is Carnaval El Mahrousa, a huge carnival and parade at the pyramids entrance to boost the tourism industry. The event will be held all day on April 15th of this year. As everyone must know by now, Egypt has gone through some major political, social, and economic upheavals. While there are still some minor creases being straightened out, tourists have already started to re-flood the country, as is normal for any month of the year in Egypt!

I will be posting more details on the event as we approach it.

So why did I participate in protests and demonstrations in a country I've barely ever lived in? Because I would've done the same if these kind of protests had happened in any other country. The fight for justice and freedom knows no nationality, religion, or race. It's as simple as that. Humanity comes above everything - when did we forget that?

I think it's of the utmost importance to give something back to the places I'm exploring. Let this be a year of growth.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Quote 2

This is an excerpt from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet. Read carefully.

And the priestess spoke again and said: Speak to us of Reason and Passion.

And he answered, saying:

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and appetite.

Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.

If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.

For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.

Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;

And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.

Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows - then let your heart say in silence, "God rests in reason."

And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky,- then let your heart say in awe, "God moves in passion."

And since you are a breath in God's sphere, and a leaf in God's forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.