Monday, December 8, 2008

Contrasts


Egypt is a land of amazing contrasts.
The lush green palm trees and sugar cane fields, made possible by the Nile and irrigation, just stop abruptly where the water ends and the land turns absolutely barren. Not even a tumbleweed or cactus.



These fun aerial views came from a hot air balloon ride that I took with the tour group- I have always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon and this was a really amazing experience! Balloons are smooth and quiet except for occasional blasts of hot air/flame that are really loud. And you can glide in much lower than you could with an airplane. It's totally different.
I was disappointed that we did not get to glide closer over the Luxor West Bank ruins (like the Ramesseum and other temples and tombs visible in the distance of the above photograph) but we did go in close over one of the local villages, and it was fascinating to see the houses:


Because devout Moslems abhor being in debt (even for a house mortgage) many of them build their houses piecemeal. Multigenerational families live in houses, usually with grandparents on the ground floor, parents on the upper floor and the third storey in process building for their oldest son, to get ready to kit out for him when he marries in his late twenties or early thirties- it can take 20 years or so to furnish out this new floor, all paid piecemeal as the money trickles in.
So there's a lot of temporary looking parts to a typical Egyptian house, since many of them are works in progress (and since by zoning law they are supposed to indicate the final height of the building even if it takes 40 years building the rest of the structure up to that point).
It's a totally different feeling- one that Americans would consider sloppy and unkempt.
But that doesn't mean that they are destitute.
Look at the difference between the thatched straw roof areas and the TV satellite dish!

1 comment:

scraps said...

The housing is most interesting. How fun for you to ride in a ballon! I feel like I am in a good history class with your pictures, thanks for sharing!