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Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

#JustOneHour

Beautiful Orchids

“A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space — a place not just set apart but reverberant — and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.”
Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education
“There are many paths leading to a garden and many experiences awaiting those who venture in. No matter what your motive—whether to grow healthy, delicious food; spend time outdoors feeling more alive than your desk job allows; help save the planet; find relaxation, solace, or healing; meet your neighbors; get your hands in the sweet earth; or discover for yourself just how abundant and generous nature can be—a garden rarely disappoints. It’s a magnet for life in all its quirky, beautiful forms.”
Jane Shellenberger, Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West

 

Just a brief pause in the daily grind, a short pause between the semi lucidity that appears before the next round of pills need to be taken.

I managed to look through my window whilst there was light outside, in fact as the sun rose above the rooftops. It was not sunrise, but the next best thing. That pause between the flare of sunrise and it’s promise of a golden day and the gentle light that bathes everything before the heat begins. So, I carefully extricated myself from my covers and hobbled out the door. Creeping as best as my limping would allow, an improbable sight, and one worthy of a photo, but that I couldn’t manage.

I opened the doors careful to make no sound lest my gentle hearted jailor nurse would hear and usher me back to bed, scolding me along the way. He has good reason, it’s not been the best of weeks, and all through a silly accident. Time not to dwell there today.

This morning I saw my Lady’s Slipper Orchid out in full bloom, a smorgasbord of shoots twisting together to make a wonderful welcome to the sunshine. Then I spied my Rose of Sharon, such a luscious deep red and I knew I had to take photos.  Those I have to share later, but I have plenty more to share now. My poor Hypericum had suffered in the heat and after a savage haircut to help the new shoots to grow, it was time to think about watering, I could hear my Hippeastrum’s calling.

“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”
George Harrison

I hobbled around the house, praying that unwinding the hose wouldn’t waken my husband, as the hose would sit between the windows of our bedroom. Who would think to put it there? No squeaking tap, the fairies are helping today, and we (the fairies and I) enjoyed a glorious hour watering the plants. You could see the fairies jumping between the globules of water and hear the sylphs playing amongst the puddles. They could have played longer, but I, I had to admit it was enough. Everything had been given a good drink.

Time almost ceased to exist as I watered, but eventually we come back to reality.

Hose draped over the holder, I carefully tip toed on those treacherous black tiles, back into the house. I crept around, closing the door so I could sneak inside and type this out. Time for “Pain Killers” is shrieking in my head, well, in my hips and legs, but that’s for another day.

 

Enjoy my brief escape into garden whimsy.

“When told the reason for Daylight Saving time the old Indian said, “Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.” ~Author Unknown

 

 

Blessings for a Happy Saturday, Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#LifeintheRaw

The Duck Pond

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

One of the more beautiful aspects of life is, that we are given the opportunity to take “Time Out” periods and recharge. Not that it’s always as easy as it sounds. Life intrudes. Sometimes; Family intrudes. Sometimes; well, sometimes things just don’t happen the way we plan them.

Yet, for all the possibilities of why “Time Out” cannot or does not happen, there are opportunities for it to take place, especially if we look out for them. It can be as simple as sitting in a comfortable chair, or on the grass, in your own garden and allowing the fresh air to blow the cobwebs away.

For all those people who simply find it impossible, to find the chance to take a “Time Out” or small “getaway”, I invite you to take a wander around, what my husband and I call, the “Duck Pond” with me.

Six months ago the pond was crowded with dozens of wild ducks.

#LifeintheRaw

The Cockatoos  are always on the lookout, the Rosellas are a colourful feast for the eyes, and as their babies grow, they become more raucous by the day.  Even the Wagtails are storing up on food for when their babies start to run them ragged,

I’ve counted three water dragons, which means there are probably more. Here they sit watching everything, waiting for the next snack to arrive.

 

#LifeintheRaw

Where is my dinner?

There are at least half a dozen turtles, very hard to identify the individuals, as they risk their pretty necks looking for a morsel.

#LifeintheRaw

Umm, I’m having a quick look.

and yet more turtles.

#LifeintheRaw

Turtles everywhere.

Even a fish or fifty….. hundreds of little fingerlings.

#LifeintheRaw

Yes and fish too.

 

The eels gave me a start when I saw them. We were feeding the ducks and turtles when they surfaced. One was over a metre long…. No wading here for me!

 

#LifeintheRaw

Eels – oh yes!

We have seen a pair of King Quail, but they are s shy and the domesticated ducks chase them off as soon as I spy them. I’m still hopeful of seeing them and getting one photo.

This, then is my little time out and some of the wildlife around the pond. Let’s not forget the exciting find one day when we walked near the “Dead Tree Stump” and found this Pretty Faced Wallaby.

#LifeintheRaw

Pretty Faced Wallaby – isn’t he beautiful.

 

It helps to remind me that life surrounds me, even when I’m feeling a little low. More than this, the time spent wandering around and feeding the locals, getting their photos, brings a feeling of calm and peace to what may be an otherwise rushed and frenetic time.

#LifeintheRaw

Dusk at the Dead Stump

“Time Out”, a breath of fresh air, life surrounding us – as the jingle goes for our health fund………………”I feel better now”.  Enjoy your weekend.

 “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Albert Einstein

 

Blessings, Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson, 2014

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#LifeCycles

A tree of life

“We trust nature to know what it is doing, but we are not nearly so kind, understanding and trusting of our own rhythms and cycles. It’s ridiculous that we are so hard on ourselves. Can we not trust that the very same forces that created the rhythms and cycles of nature created our own? Of course we can. We often don’t, but we can, if we remember.”
Jeffrey R. Anderson, The Nature of Things – Navigating Everyday Life with Grace
#LifeCycles

The Duck Pond

One of the first things we noticed when we arrived in Redland Bay was the beautiful “Duck Pond”. We have since spent some beautiful afternoons walking around the boardwalk and finding the myriad of life forms the area was teeming with. One of the intriguing sites from the lookout was the trunk of a huge tree. I have since found out it was a giant Jacaranda tree which was covered by a carpet of purple blooms each spring.

However, that was far from the sight I saw from the lookout. It was a huge dead trunk. It seemed somehow sad to see such a magnificent tree slowly dying, branches pointing towards the heavens but still standing tall and proud.

#LifeCycles

The old dead tree

At the very top was an unusual ‘U’ shaped pair of branches, almost like a crown. I could see the tree in its glory days, flowers waving in the breeze like a bejewelled crown on its ‘head’. It didn’t seem to matter what the light was like, the dead tree had a majesty unique to itself.

Deciding to take a different walk one afternoon we walked towards the old tree. There were raucous screeches coming from the tree, more sqawks, strident and ear splitting and occasionally a soft cooing sound.

Walking along and looking into the heavens along a pitted footpath is a sure fire way to turn your ankle, which is what I did. However, perched on a fence post I had the opportunity to really take a good look at the dead tree trunk. Far from being dead the tree was actually brimming with life. Life of a far different kind.

#LifeCycles

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

There were Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Major Mitchell Cockatoos and Eastern Rosellas. At the very top of the tree, to the right side were a strange looking pair of birds I was sure I’d seen before. Camera at the ready I saw an amazing sight – a pair of Coucal, nesting in the hollow in the top of the tree. Their long tail made it easy to recognise them from the first time we saw them on the Gold Coast.

#LifeCycles

Rosellas

Each cavity in the dead stump had been claimed by a pair of nesting birds. There was a cacophony of sound as we moved along the path to pass the dead tree stump. Entranced we spent an age simply watching the birds fly back and forth and after taking a careful look around, hopping into their own particular ‘hole’. As long as we were in sight of the tree the sentinel, the Cockatoo keeping watch, made a raucous call to warn everyone strangers were around. The local magpies and crows were chased away quickly by a horde of colourful denizens of the dead tree.

We have been back several times now, and although we can hear the chirping of many babies, my camera isn’t strong enough to get a picture of the babies in their nest. What has been wonderful, for me, is realising that this dead tree stump has as much life in it now as it did in its heyday – just very different.

In so many ways that old dead tree is symbolic of life. Just as it began as a small seedling and took time, food and water to grow, until it reached its full potential, so do we. It went through so many stages in its growth before it reached its mature state, had to stand strong and tall before wind and weather, sun, rain, hail and cold. Yet it survived and produced a magnificent display of flowers year after year. Who knows how it ended its life as it now is? I was unable to find out, but it has obviously been severely cut back and hasn’t recovered.

It hasn’t recovered to its former glory, but has become home to so many other creatures, many more than I could see. There would be bugs and beetles, spiders and ants, perhaps even a tree snake. It is still a wonderful example of life adapting to diversity. As we do during times of crisis or great change.

Like life’s ending when we move on to another sphere of existence as spirits, so too has the tree moved on to another phase of its life cycle. There is a calm symmetry to the rhythm of life as I watch the old tree and its denizens and think on the changes in my own life, in life in general. Nothing lasts in its current form eternally. Eventually everything leaves its current form and becomes something new and different, its next phase of life.

#LifeCycles

The circle of life

During the hard times, painful times, sad times and joyous times, there is a profound truth to the reality of the Cycle of Life. I’m more than happy with that.

“Life can be magnificent and overwhelming — That is its whole tragedy. Without beauty, love, or danger it would almost be easy to live.”
Albert Camus  An Absurd Reasoning

Other photos: http://www.josephinewallart.co.uk, http://www.developmentsolutions.org.uk,
blog.asiantown.net

Blessings, Susan♥

© Susan Jamieson, 2014

 

 

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“You must find yourself before you can know where you belong, yet to find yourself first you must know who you are. However, you will never really know who you are if you are always allowing other people to define who you should be, so be yourself and if you are still unsure of who you are then reinvent yourself.”
― Andrew James Pritchard, Smoke and Mirrors
” Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.”
– Alan Alda

Like all good things, stories need an ending. In Search Of deserves to have it’s final ending, the climax as it happened at the time. Here is the beginning of the end of the journey.

 My last days in Switzerland went by both in a blur and stretched out enormously. There was a feeling of storing memories for times to come, but also of seeing each infinitesimal moment as an entire story, just waiting for it to unfold itself. Whereas each individual minute was a treasure, even those things often repeated, they also felt unique in and of themselves.

It was strange that so many different memories could be evoked by the daily routine of enjoying a coffee in the lounge. The smile of the waiter and the bonhomie of the other vacationers as we sat around, reading, talking or silently gazing into the further reaches of forever, each felt in some way part of the other and yet at the same time, as individual as the clothes we wore. It as simple as that. We were together and at the same moment, completely separate.

The last night in Geneva was spent in another type of blur. Good food and wine, scintillating conversation. It was difficult to realise that a few short weeks earlier we had met for the first time and yet now, it was as effortless as if we had been friends for many years. Time flew by alarmingly fast and I wanted to cram as much into it as possible. The feeling of not having enough time made me think of the film “The Langoliers” by Stephen King. Somewhere in the vastness of the Universe were some eldritch creatures gobbling up the seconds as we used them, leaving nothing behind unless we filled them once more by something we had said or done. I found it amusing that I should think of that before I was to board the plane in a few hours since during the film it was just that which saw a catastrophe loom.

Yet the morning came all too fast, and despite my fanciful notions, I knew that the trip would be peaceful enough. As we drove to the airport I knew I was going to miss the glorious scenery, the brisk feeling of the air and the beautiful scents of spring flowers growing everywhere. I said a silent ‘goodbye’ as we drove round Lake Geneva and passed the beautiful swans in their nests close to shore. Where else would I see such an unusual sight?

The flight to Athens was uneventful, as I expected. The otherworldly view of the rolling carpet made by the clouds covering the land below, allowing the mountaintops to peak through was a unique way to end my short trip to Switzerland, allowing me the knowledge that I was eager to return, one day soon I hoped, to finish my exploration of this beautiful country.

#InSearchOf

Alp peering through a carpet of clouds                  Image courtesy of http://www.startribune.com

We arrived in Athens late in the day and after I had collected the luggage I had left in storage, we made our way to the city centre and the hotel. Except this was not the way we had travelled on my last stopover. Liveried staff hurried forward to help me from the car, gathered my luggage and ushered me to the Concierge’s desk. A beautiful, tall and dark haired man explained that the hotel had been booked out by a wedding party. My stomach dropped. He then went on to explain that due to the hotel inconveniencing me I was being upgraded to another room – free of charge, of course! This was completely unexpected.

Dressed in my well-worn, if clean and respectable looking jeans and blouse, I still felt woefully under dressed for this sumptuous hotel. As we rode the lift up, ever higher, I was beginning to wonder if I was being sent towards the heavens for an angelic ride home. Escorted through the door to my room it took all my efforts not to gasp. The room was simply stunning. A magnificent display of luxury met my eyes at every turn as I was shown through this incredible suite. Not only was there an enormous king sized bed with luxurious bedding in the master bedroom, there was also a large and exquisitely appointed lounge and dining room, and an equally opulent bathroom with gold plated taps and the largest bath I had ever seen. I knew what I would be doing later.

Since the wedding party made my dinner arrive late, a bottle of wine accompanied my simple meal. Silk, satin and velvet seemed to be everywhere and the towels were so thick and heavy, it felt as if I could wrap myself up in one and simply fall asleep. A long, luxuriant bath, steam curling round my head, the scent of wildflowers swirling in the steam and I had found a measure of heaven for a time. I finally dragged myself out, wrinkled but so very relaxed that I hardly remembered sliding between the incredible sheets and falling asleep. Thankfully I had requested a wakeup call or I would never been ready in time for the car to take me to the airport. Even paying the excess luggage bill failed to mar the feeling of impersonating Jackie Onassis for a short time.

“We have stories to tell, stories that provide wisdom about the journey of life. What more have we to give one another than our ‘truth’ about our human adventure as honestly and as openly as we know how?”
– Rabbi Saul Rubin

Next Week – Revelations  The final instalment and what it all meant.

Blessings, Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson, 2014

 

In Search Of…Part 23 Switzerland

In Search Of ….Part 22 – Athens and Geneva

In Search Of….Part 21- Back to Tel Aviv

 

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“Finding oneself and one’s path is like waking up on a foggy day. Be patient, and presently the fog will clear and that which has always been there can be seen. The path is already there to follow”
Rasheed Ogunlaru, Soul Trader: Putting the Heart Back into Your Business

~

The next day we left Petra on the Kings Highway for our first stop at the ruins of the crusader fortress of Al Karak. It had the feel of a large open town, symmetrically laid out. It was almost possible to see crusaders marching around in full regalia. Situated at the edge of town there was a surreal feel to the place. More than ever history and modern day events lived side by side. Left to ramble over the ruins we wandered over what seemed like acres of ground. It would have been more than impressive in its day.

After the long exploration we drove to a lonely, windswept hill, Mount Nebo, which is believed to be the tomb of Moses and is where Moses looked out over the “promised land”, forbidden to enter by God. A mosaic floor still lies in the ruins of a 4th and 6th century church. This time we were the only people at the ruin and were able to spend quite a bit of time walking around and exploring the area. Looking out across the land it seemed desolate, nothing but sand and rock. It’s hard to imagine it as being “the Promised Land”, a “Land or Milk and Honey”, but seasons come and go and everything eventually changes. It really made you ask why there was so much blood shed over such a barren and desolate place. (It may not have been at the time).

Our next stop was at Madaba still driving along the 5000 year old King’s Highway. Madaba is known as the City of Mosaics. We were there to see the mosaic of the Holy Land which is part of a floor mosaic in the early Byzantine church of Saint George. The church is northwest of the city centre and was built in 1896 AD, over the remains of a much earlier 6th century Byzantine church. Madaba appeared to be a congested little town where every street was twisting one way or another. Of course we had no idea which way we were going and our guide gave a simple direction. “Make sure you can see the person in front of you. Don’t stop for any reason and don’t get lost. Do not stop to look in the shops or talk to the shop keepers. I will not be responsible if you stop. We may not be able to find you”. How much was for effect and how much real?

We did start to lose some of our party, those who were having trouble keeping up. The guide was not interested in moderating his pace and a few of the less fit, who would have enjoyed the excuse to stop and check out the local wares, began to fall behind. Soon it was obvious we were about to lose part of our party and all I could see was a sea of Arab faces, all  clamouring for us to stop and look at the things they had for sale along the street or enticing us to “Step inside and see our wares”.

To say I was annoyed would be putting it mildly. The people who had been the first to tattletale that we were being ‘kidnapped’, ‘arrested’ or grabbed by the Bedouin, made sure they remained hot on the heels of the guide and didn’t look back. The rest of us formed a relay of sorts, a string of white faces amongst the sea of Arab faces, ensuring we could see the person in front and behind. Eventually we made it to the Church and reformed our group again.  Words were spoken, both to the group who ignored the people falling behind and to the guide, who suddenly developed “English amnesia”.  There’s nothing like a goatherd when you need a guide in town!

The trek was worth it to see the mosaic, but the tension spoilt the journey. Strangely enough we managed to get back to the bus using a much more direct route and took much less time. The streets were also much wider and less congested. I wasn’t the only person pondering the strange behaviour of our guide; in fact I was convinced he had taken us through the seediest part of town. We were all relieved we had managed to keep a look out for each other and arrived safely back at the bus.

Once more on the bus we had one final stop, at a souvenir place. Once again, it seemed a place in the middle of nowhere and off the beaten track. They had the most amazing oil paintings done on canvas or velvet. Far too difficult to say no to something so beautiful when we knew this was the last opportunity we had to buy anything in Jordan. One of the salesmen decided to follow Mel and me around the store. It seemed that all the salesmen were determined to sell everyone something before we left.  Of course, this was the land of bartering and it had been fun in Egypt, which I totally forgot to mention. So, smiling sweetly we did the circuit of the store, once, twice, three times before finally getting down to choosing a few things we liked. Then it came time to start the haggling process.

Both Mel and I were travelling elsewhere after our stay in Jordan and the idea of trying to carry framed pictures with us, simply didn’t appeal. I had chosen a beautiful velvet oil of a Bedouin encampment amongst Roman ruins. It was beautiful and I did buy it for a very good price and persuaded him to remove the frame for me.  Then we smiled and asked him to remove the frames from Mel’s pictures.  Our friends were not impressed as they had pictures in frames whilst we had ours safely rolled to carry with us.

Once back in Amman I had the unequaled pleasure of trying to find a pharmacy which stocked the medication I needed. I had miscalculated somehow and I was fortunate to find a pharmacy with a pharmacist who understood English and had the right tablets. As luck would have it she was right around the corner about three hundred metres up the street. However I was pleased to get back inside.

The next day we had a guided tour of Amman. We ended up at the Citadel, the old Roman ruins in the centre of Amman. The Citadel is actually on a hill with the ruins of the Temple of Hercules. Below the Citadel’s southern rim is a stream known as Seil Amman. It is on the south bank that most of the Roman City of Philadelphia was situated. The ruins have a main Forum, Theatre, Odeon, and various shops. The Amphitheatre is the largest in Jordan, and could seat 6,000 spectators. The Theatre area is filled with stalls selling shish kebabs or ice creams as well as souvenir shops. There is also an exquisite example of a Byzantine mosaic from Madaba.

It was a great way to end our tour of Jordan and to end our time together. We had the afternoon to relax, compare notes of our tour together, exchange addresses with everyone and get our cases organised and repacked. Last minute laundry was essential for Mel and me.

The next day Mel was leaving for Mount Sinai, people were travelling home, to Brazil, Canada, the US and the UK whilst I was staying an extra day before going back to Israel. Everyone was leaving at different times so the whole day was spent saying ‘goodbyes’. It had been a wonderful trip and I was looking forward to going back to Israel.

#In Search of

The Siq, Petra

It had been a whirlwind trip, filled with so much history and scenery which at times took your breath away and at others left you wondering why there was so much fighting there. With so much history and so many different cultures all melting into a country and culture it was not surprising that there was the unique diversity amongst the people in the Middle East. From the Byzantine era, Crusaders, Moses and Romans, it was a land steeped in religious doctrines and wars. I felt awed and humbled but with a sense that I was gaining a clearer perspective of who I was, what I believed and where I was heading. It was going to be interesting going back to Israel again. I wondered if it would be as difficult to return as it had been to get in originally.

Next week…..Back to Tel Aviv.

Blessings,  Susan ♥

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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In Search of Part 19

In Search of Part 18

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“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

~

Early the next morning we were taken to the Nile where we boarded our vessel for the cruise part of the trip. Once we had all been ensconced in our own cabins we wandered down for lunch. Fortunately they were only a few ways to get there so getting lost wasn’t too much of a problem.

The dining room was laid out with a buffet and waiters to keep everything replenished and also attend to our tea, coffee or fresh orange juice. I was reveling in the pleasure of being waited on. As a full-time wife (recently divorced) and mother (never ends) it was a real joy having someone to bring me whatever I needed.  Of course, one of the simple things which I never gave a thought to actually caused me a little problem.

I smile! I smile a lot when I am happy and when I am appreciative of something another person is doing for me. Simple things like a fresh juice and a hot coffee and I smiled my thanks to the waiter. I smiled my gratitude and never gave it another thought. Mel and I were given superb attention and service at lunch. When we asked one of the waiters coming out of the kitchen if a dish was being replenished and they said no, we must have looked disappointed. Before we had time to move around the buffet we were ushered quietly back to the other side of the buffet and there was a small bowl of the dish we asked after. Service! Impeccable and smiling service, yes, I was appreciative of being waited on.

Each day followed the same pattern. We would all be up early and meet in the dining room. Breakfast and we would head off on a bus to a pyramid, or the Valley of the Kings, or simply cruise the Nile, go to the Aswan Dam and Nefertiti Perfumery, or catch the plane to Abu Simbel. It was a mixture of relaxed sailing on a busy river, and excursions to the pyramids and temples. The banks were more interesting and the history was on land not in the river.

But there were also some hilarious moments. I smiled. Mel and I both smiled, we were polite to the crew and waiters and talked to them. We thanked them for their service. Quite normal I believed. However, I quickly noticed something very amusing. After my accidents and the intervening period I had quite a bit of pain after each excursion. The mornings were difficult to get going and we rarely made it into the dining room first. Not far behind the first to enter, but rarely the first.

However, as soon as we arrived we had two waiters almost shadowing us.  As soon as we chose our seats we had a glass of fresh orange juice and the hot pot of fresh coffee being offered to us. It made no difference that someone else was already in the room, sitting and peremptorily holding coffee cup in the air to be filled. Everyone was ignored until we were served. Okay, in my opinion they were a tad surly and if they had to wait, so be it. Yet it didn’t end there. Throughout the meal our glasses and cups were refilled before we needed to look around for a waiter.  They would walk past our fellow diners and fill our glasses and cups first. Often it might empty the jug or pot and they would sail away into the kitchen. The same thing happened with the buffet, we were shadowed and if something looked ‘empty’ they would offer to get a fresh dish. We smiled and had excellent service at every meal.

It was hot and I was concerned about being sunburnt but somehow I managed to avoid that misery. We also avoided all the other miseries of travel we had been warned about. My medical supplies came home intact.

We had an enthralling day in the Valley of the Kings. Heat and sand and hundreds of people, but it was worth it. There was a special charge if you wanted to see the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Heavens – we were right there, we had to see it.  Lining up with the throng was an introduction to the human miasma we would get to know more intimately. The entrance to the tomb was down a steep and low walkway. In fact it was accessible only if you duck walked the entire way down to the burial room and back up to the surface. I was going to do it and it didn’t matter if it was difficult. The ‘tunnel’ was divided in two by a rope. One way down and one way back out. No stopping and no changing lanes. Overhead lights, (thank heavens for electricity), made sure we could see the snaking line of human ducks waddling down and out of the tomb.

The heat rose as we moved in and the air seemed very thin. We could hear the fans blowing air through the tunnel and I couldn’t help but wonder how they had managed this before electricity. One of our group, a somewhat large person, insisted on going down. He couldn’t see his feet when standing and was told he had to remain squatting for at least fifteen minutes down and then back, but insisted on going in. Approximately half way down we heard a commotion behind us. (Yes we selfishly made sure we were well ahead of him.) Our rotund friend couldn’t breathe, overheated and could no longer duck walk. We were told it took quite a bit of engineering to get the lines of people stopped and manoeuvre him from one side to the other and get him out. Everything has been stripped out of the tomb and it was a little disappointing but I made it into the tomb and out, under my own steam Yes! I was thrilled.

Another excursion took us to a pyramid where the external walks were undergoing renovation and preservation work. As we walked behind one wall we saw to our right some of the best reliefs in the complex. The ground was a little rough, okay, it was very uneven, and there was a small rope alongside the path, to warn people of the uneven surface. ( I wish I could draw an angelic face here). As we walked across to get our photos an armed ‘soldier’ dressed in black, big gun, came hurrying towards us. We were not supposed to be there. Smiling once more, we explained we only wanted to get some pictures. Smiling all the while, he relented and stood guard for us to get our pictures. How we were supposed to steal the cartouches is beyond me.  As we were moving back to the path some of our group appeared. Attempting to cross the rope our guard lifted his rifle. No admittance.

Of course as soon as Ayman, our guide, made an appearance he was told that we had been arrested and escorted away from the temple. Not bad, kidnapped by camel drivers and arrested by a guard. We were then admonished by members of our group for encouraging the locals and the waiters. It simply wasn’t right, smiling at them, making eye contact, it set a bad precedent. It would be misunderstood that we were leading them on!  Yes, we received our fair share of proposals or propositions but nothing we were unable to handle or deflect. Sorry, it sounds like sour grapes and cold coffee.

The flight to Abu Simbel was an education. I didn’t think aeroplanes like that could get in the air. Shake, rattle, clank and hold onto your hats. But the sights made it worthwhile. A group photo in front of the temple signaled the last of our land trip in Cairo. All that was left was the return to Cairo after Egyptian dancers in the lounge that night. Mel and I both shimmied on stage!

The next morning I wondered why I had done it but, it was a great way to end the trip. The next day we traveled back to the Cairo Marriott again for one night. Our final stop at the Papyrus Place. Too many choices but I had a wonderful time. After that it was on to Jordan.

Egypt was so full of adventure and it lived up to more than I anticipated. The history and majesty took my breath away and I wished my mother had been able to see it, as it was one of her loves. I managed to get into a little unexpected drama, innocently, but began to realise that I was simply a small part of a larger whole.  My search was beginning to put its pieces together and I had glimpses of who and what it might reveal.

~

Next week…..Jordan

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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#In Search of....

image from www-josephinewall-co.uk

“There has always been, for me, this other world, this second world to fall back on–a more reliable world in so far as it does not hide that its premise is illusion.”
Graham Swift, Ever After
“You’re still alive. Be thankful for that. You can still walk and talk and think. Yes, you feel like shit most of the time, but it could be worse. So instead of sitting in your room waiting to die, why don’t you join in on life until you do die? Dammit! Get off your dead ass and make something of the life you still have left!”
Deanna Lynn Sletten, Widow, Virgin, Whore

~

The luxury of the Cairo Marriott was only a brief stopover in the trip, but one that was a glimpse into ostentatious luxury. Could I have handled more? Well, if I had a huge bag of money and all I needed were casino tables, possibly. However, I wanted more, the real Egypt I had been introduced to as a child by my mother, through her love of the Pyramids. She hadn’t been able to see them personally but her library was an exquisite collection of all things ancient Egyptian.

Our first full day of sightseeing began at the Giza Necropolis – without a sandstorm. What an incredible difference from the last time we were there. Our tour guide Ayman was as well versed in Egyptology as Vered had been in Israeli history. At least we started off well with a good tour bus!  Arriving at the Pyramids we were greeted with a car park which resembled a bus depot. Trying to remember which bus ‘belonged’ to us was no small feat. We were admonished “Not to go anywhere alone”, “Not to go anywhere with the camel drivers”, and finally “To remember that tourists had been abducted, murdered and…worse”.

Suitably encouraged we set off. Ayman walked us around the pyramids and gave us a brief history of the area. This complex of ancient monuments includes the three pyramid complexes known as the Great Pyramids, the massive sculpture known as the Great Sphinx, several cemeteries, a workers’ village and an industrial complex. The Pyramids of Giza consist of Great Pyramid and the Pyramid of Cheops and Khufu, the somewhat smaller Pyramid of Chephren) a few hundred meters to the south-west and the Pyramid of Mykerinos a few hundred meters further south-west. The Great Sphinx is to the east of the complex. (That’s the travel guide explanation).

After a thorough tour of the area we were given an hour to wander at our leisure. Considering there were no shops to visit, the camels beckoned. Mel wasn’t too sure but after being so strongly advised to “be careful” it seemed an insult not to have a ride. Beside, how could we come all this way and not have a ride on a camel, around the pyramids too?

The camel must have seen me coming and after following the instructions to climb on board I was halfway there when she decided to stand up.  WHOA! Not what you want to happen. From a very precarious perch the tip and sway was alarming, and I was trying to reassure my friend that all was well.  I managed to settle on my high perch and then we had to get the camel to sit down again so she could get on.  I’m sure if you asked her she would tell you she had a grip of iron. Once settled the careful walk began. Did you know they only use female camels because they are more placid? Yes, strange thoughts ran through my mind too.

I think it must be part of the ride because half way around the circuit we stopped and the driver (why do they call them drivers?), asked if we wanted to have the famous photos taken – the one where you look as though your finger is right on the tip of the pyramid? Well, first I had to persuade Mel it was okay to give him my camera… he could have run off with it. Leaving us on his camel? Oh well. That was the easiest part. Broken English trying to ask you to point just so, in order that your finger, held just so (artistically) appears to be on the very tip of the pyramid behind you, just so. The laughter began and it was a long drawn out attempt to get a couple of photos but I was in a good mood so I didn’t mind. Some of our fellow travelers weren’t as amused.  The remainder of the ride was uneventful, apart from the ship on the high seas feeling as we, or rather our camel, sat back down again. Gee Mel did get off quickly!

We must have made an impression with the camel drivers because we quickly gathered a group around us, all offering to show us where to go to get the best photos of the pyramids. Why not? Well, the obvious answer was the stern admonishment not to wander off because of the dire possibilities for a female alone in Egypt. But that was alright because we weren’t alone – we were together!  So off we wandered, about two hundred metres and took some wonderful photos of the pyramids and then with our erstwhile friendly camel drivers. All was well and we were walking back towards the bus when our guide, Ayman came hurrying towards us, concern written large on his face.

A couple of the sour pusses who had seen us wandering off with the camel drivers had hot footed it over to Ayman and told him we were being kidnapped! Honestly. At that particular time I was in no mind to be trifled with – by anyone, particularly someone of the opposite sex. I would have cheerfully chopped them off at the knees. I knew this and I’m sure the camel drivers sensed this, even if they spent a considerable amount of time, in their broken English trying to persuade us to take them away with us!  I did try to take it with good grace but I was really irritated. I could sense how the trip was going to go.

Goodbye to the Grand Sphynx

Goodbye to the Grand Sphynx

The Alabaster Shop

The Alabaster Shop

#In Search of

Breaking more hearts?

In high spirits, (I refused to be crestfallen at this turn of events) we walked back to the bus to head back to our next stop, the Alabaster factory. We couldn’t get into trouble here and bought quite a few pieces to take home with us. The salesmen however were overly eager to offer their services to us…. if we wanted them to run away with us to Australia. I could see a pattern developing. Ayman decided we needed to have an eye kept on us because we might get into ‘trouble’ but, that was yet to come.

#In Search of..

Statue of Rameses 11 at Memphis

Back at the hotel we were advised we would be leaving to go on our Nile cruise early the next morning. This was going to be fun!

Whatever it was I was searching for was becoming  a little clearer. I was leaving more of the old persona behind and finding there was a fun person inside, someone who could laugh and enjoy the silliness of life. I was feeling the awe and majesty of the Pyramids and a sense of the great power and mystery they contained. Yet I knew my search was not over yet.

Blessings, Susan x

Next week – Nile Cruise and ‘arrested’.

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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