APAW: People at Work in the Middle East

Nancy Merrill’s weekly A Photo a Week challenge has the topic of Work.

On our trip last year to Egypt and Israel, we had the opportunity to photograph and meet many people at work.

In Egypt, we witnessed several craftsmen working at their craft:

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Crate maker on the island of Fares – he is the only person left in Lower Egypt who makes these mango crates by hand, which are greatly in demand. Here he works with one of the women in our group in making a crate.
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A weaver in Aswan – many of our group members bought one of his beautiful scarves!
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A snake charmer in Fares! I captured this scene with my zoom lens from a bus window – I didn’t get anywhere near those cobras!

We also encountered agricultural workers and fishermen on the Nile.

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A young farmworker on his donkey on Besaw Island.

In Israel, we encountered more cosmopolitan workers.

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Our guide, Hani, explains the architectural features of ancient arches in Jerusalem.
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A bartender and restaurant worker in Tel Aviv
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A jewelry maker at the Israel Diamond Center in Tel Aviv

 

 

 

CFFC: Fashion Near and Far

Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge this week is about fashion.

In The Bistro Restaurant at Lyric Opera of Chicago, there is always one of the beautiful dresses worn by the lead female character on display in a case with a mirror behind it so you can see both front and back. This was the dress on display last December for Il Trovatore.
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These miniatures were on display at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines, Sept. 2018, as 19th century public figures decked out in their finery.
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1960s fashions – exhibit at Evanston History Center (Dawes House) during Open House Chicago, Oct. 2018.
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Muslim women & men in Old Jerusalem, Israel, January 2019.
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At the Israeli Diamond Center, Tel Aviv
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Mannequin, Le Pijp Market, Amsterdam, Holland (June 2019)
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Store display – for bridesmaids (?), Wurzburg, Germany (June 2019)
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Ribbons for hats, Regensburg, Germany (July 2019)
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Not sure what this mannequin is advertising, but she looks rather fashionable, don’t you think? (Regensburg, Germany)
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When I saw the design on this T-shirt in Regensburg, I had to go into the shop and purchase two of them for our daughter and son-in-law, who have a particular fondness for skulls and food!
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Journey to Egypt, Part 11: Luxor – Lunch, a Ferry Ride, & Dinner with a Local Family

December 27, 2018

A Walk to Lunch

Back in the city of Luxor (about 850,000 population), our bus driver dropped us off in the vicinity of the place where we would have lunch. The restaurant was a few blocks away down dusty streets, and we had to walk. I was glad for this because as it turned out, there were many buildings with interesting doors and I kept stopping to take pictures! Most of these doors I have already posted for Norm’s Thursday Doors, but here are a few of them again, plus some other sights along the way.

Mineret of a nearby mosque
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interesting building
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Dale stops and looks back to see where I am – taking pictures, what else?!
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Here’s one Dale took – he found this sign amusing.
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The restaurant where we had lunch

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We ate on an open terrace – it was a beautiful day!

Ferry Ride

After lunch, we walked back to the bus, which took us to a boat dock. We took a ferry called “King of Love” across the Nile!
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The ferries were all colorfully painted and named.
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One of the cruise ships that take tourists up and down the Nile – we were to see many of these in the next few days.
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Our Hotel: Sofitel Winter Palace

We had “down time” for the rest of the afternoon – well deserved, after seeing so many monuments in the morning! I will use this space to post pictures of our hotel, the Sofitel Winter Palace.

The hotel was decorated for Christmas, including this unique Christmas tree.

Dale thought the decorations of an ancient priest carrying a boat looked like a menorah!

Returning to our room, I discovered that the attendant had left flowers in a vase and on the sink in the bathroom.

The Winter Palace Hotel was built in 1886, in the luxury style of many old hotels in the Victorian age.
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Underneath the hotel, where the arches are below the railing, there were some shops, including one that sold antiques, including jewelry. Merchants are not allowed to sell anything that is more than 100 years old, to discourage the marketing of possibly valuable artifacts.
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Behind the hotel are the century old Royal Gardens.

There are large, lavishly decorated salons like this one.
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They had hats for guests to try on, like Dale in this fez!
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Dinner with a Local Family

For dinner, we were split into two groups. Each group would go to a different local household for dinner. Dale and I went with four other people. The home-hosted dinner is one of the highlights of OAT tours.

Our family, of modest means, was very welcoming.  The father’s name is Mohammed, the mother is Doah (pron. Doh – AH) and they have four children – two boys (Faheed, age 15 and Kareem, age 10) and two girls (Rana, age 14 and Zena, age 2).

 

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Left to right: The cousin-translator (I don’t remember his name), Doah, Zena, Mohammed, Kareem, Faheed 

Little Zena was so cute! She loves to dance to music, which she was too happy to do, because she sought our approval – she was not at all shy!

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Zena enjoyed her juice, as did we all – it was delicious!

 

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A couple in our group is from Florida and they brought this Miami Dolphins t-shirt which they gave to Kareem.

Rana enjoys drawing and wants to be an artist. Her drawings were passed around among us, as well as photos of the family, to admire. Rana didn’t get home until just before we left – just in time for a family photo!

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Rana (in the white hijab) joined the rest of the family for this photo.

A nephew was there when we arrived, but he had to leave; then another relative, Iman, came, who spoke a little more English. Both parents did speak some English.

Mohammed is a farmer. He has an old car, which at 38 years old is the same age as his wife! He drives 20 km to the farm, where he grows vegetables.

Doah is a housewife. The meal she prepared was delicious, even the eggplant! I have never liked eggplant, so when she told us what each dish was, I didn’t put any of the eggplant in tomato sauce on my plate. Doah seemed to think I didn’t know what it was, so she repeated: “Eggplant!” Of course, then I had to take some to be polite. But when I took a bite of it – I liked it! The sauce it was cooked in definitely helped, but I vowed to try eggplant again to see if I still liked it. (I did try it, and I did like it!)

The family lives in a modest apartment with two bedrooms – the three older kids share one bedroom and Zena sleeps with her parents. (Since there is no crib or extra bed in the parents’ room, I assume she sleeps in the same bed with them.) The kitchen is quite small and very basic. There is no room in the kitchen for the refrigerator, so it is kept in the parents’ bedroom!

Doah in some of the photos dressed more western style, but now she wears colorful long dresses and a hijab. Girls start wearing hijabs at age 12. Doah showed us Rana’s school uniform – a black jumper, mid-calf length, with a white shirt underneath and a white hijab. The boys’ uniform is less austere. Kareem wears a blue shirt and blue jeans! That doesn’t sound fair to our Western sensibilities, but on the other hand, most Egyptian men at adulthood begin wearing the long, traditional robe for men, the dalabeya. Most of the men we saw wore plain ones, usually white, black or gray. Although Doah was wearing a colorful dress and matching yellow hijab, most women we saw on the street were covered head to toe in black, although their faces are generally covered. (Some do veil their face but the majority, at least that I saw, did not.) I noticed that older women, 20181227_204314despecially, dress in black.

We spent about two hours at the family’s home, during which we asked questions about their lives, told them about ours, and looked at their photos.

When it was time to go, the van driver who was to take us back came to the door and we went downstairs. This bird statue was on the first floor of the apartment building.

 

 

Getting Our Kicks Standing on a Corner and a Giant Jack Rabbit (Route 66 Day 4, Part 1)

June 10, 2018                           Sedona to Gallup via Winslow & Holbrook, AZ

We left Sedona this morning, heading north toward Flagstaff and back onto Route 66.

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The iconic Bell Rock, near the southern end of Sedona, rises up in its orange sandstone beauty.
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I don’t know the name of this rock formation, but it is at the northern end of Sedona.

We passed the exit for Meteor Crater (I-40 Exit 233) because we had been there before (If you have never been to Meteor Crater, it is well worth a visit – quite a spectacular round depression in the middle of the desert. I have included the link above.)

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(Photo downloaded from the Meteor Crater website).

…and continued on to Winslow, Arizona.

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Entering Winslow on Route 66, this sculpture is one of the first things you see. Falling Meteor #2 was created by Jerry Peart and donated to the people of Winslow.

…made famous by the Eagles’ song Take It Easy: “I’m standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona…”  Of course, Winslow has capitalized on this fame, with an entire area surrounding the corner of 2nd St. (Route 66) and Kinsley Ave. dedicated to tourist traps, eateries and photo opps!20180610_132659.jpg
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DSC_0549DSC_0550DSC_0552On the now-famous corner, there is a life-sized statue of a young man with his guitar standing in front of a life-sized mural showing the “girl in a flatbed Ford” in a window’s reflection. 20180610_132218.jpg
In 2016, a bronze statue of Glen Frey (Eagles co-founder) was added after his untimely death earlier that year.DSC_0551

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The corner property at 2nd & Kinsley was donated for use as a park by the Kaufman family, who have lived in Winslow for 5 generations.

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Bricks have been donated to raise funds for the restoration of the mural.
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Down the street, there is a walkway lined with commercial businesses where the “world’s smallest church” is located.
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15 miles east of Winslow (if on I-40, it is exit 269 at 3386 Old Hwy 66) is the Jack Rabbit Trading Post. It was opened in 1949, and the owners, in order to make their shop stand out from hundreds of others, placed “Jack Rabbit” signs up to 1,000 miles away which told how many miles it was to the shop. When you get there, there’s a huge sign that says “Here It Is!”20180610_140652d
Inside this store one can find almost anything related to Route 66 as well as fine Indian jewelry and crafts and other unusual souvenirs.

I ended up buying four small kachinas to add to my (growing) collection!  Outside the shop stands a huge fiberglass rabbit with a saddle – kids, get up and ride on him! It makes a fun photo opp!20180610_140427d
The façade of the shop has weathered murals featuring Southwestern Native American designs…

…and this jack rabbit mosaic, on the ground in front of the main entrance.
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Leaving the Jack Rabbit Trading Post, it is only a short distance to Holbrook, with another of only 3 remaining Wigwam Motels. Of course, we didn’t stay there because we had stayed at the one in San Bernardino and it was still mid-afternoon. However, weary travelers can find the Wigwam Motel of Holbrook, Arizona (I-40 Exit 285 & 286) at 811 W. Hopi Dr. (Junction of Hwy 180 and Historic Route 66). The price is right and it is a unique experience to stay in one of the last of this dying chain!

In the Petrified Forest National Park, 25 miles east of Holbrook, is the Painted Desert Inn. Because of the beauty of this inn and the national park, I took many photos, so I will publish it in a separate post.

 

A Photo a Week Challenge: Jewel Colors

Nancy Merrill has a Photo a Week Challenge with a theme this week of jewel colors.

Sea and sky – sapphire, pearl/mother of pearl, lapis lazuli20170324_163804.jpg

Décor on a cruise ship – Sapphire, amethyst, ruby, beryl, gypsum, peridot20170403_205604 (2)

Chicago at night – turquoise, sapphire, onyx20170920_191538.jpg

Chihuly detail – ruby, sapphire, amethyst, topaz, peridot, garnet, carnelian, moonstone20171110_101902 (2)

sunset at sea – topaz, onyx, agate, moonstone20171004_173346_001.jpg

my new Prius!! – opal, moonstone, sea pearl (that’s the name of its color)20171116_183525_001.jpg

Walking Tour of Antigua, Guatemala

March 31, 2017

Antigua, Guatemala is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and walking through its old, sometimes crumbling, downtown is like being in an open air museum!

Our guide today was Dario, whose English was not as good as our previous guides in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but he was understandable. He told us he’d been a science teacher and so today we were his “students.” Our group was large and he had a lot of stories to tell us, so he would clap his hands to indicate he wanted us all to gather around him. He had given each of us a number, so he would call out the numbers and we were to reply with “a word, any word” to declare our presence. He also created imaginary “bridges” to get us to walk single file on the narrow sidewalks.

There were 37 of us on the tour, so we tried to keep up in order to not lose sight of
the rest of our group. We tried to keep the little flag with the number 12 on it in sight. We all wore lanyards with Dario Morán written on them. Whoever was at the front of the line had the benefit of Dario’s continuous narrative. Dale and I were never in the front, because we always got out of line to take pictures.

With all the walking and narration, Dario left us little time for bathroom breaks!

The old part of Antigua has many cobblestone streets and sidewalks. We walked along a street that took us to a wall in bad repair with indentations that apparently were bricked over windows of what had been an old hospital. Because it is privately owned, Dario said, the government can do nothing to restore it and apparently whoever owns it doesn’t care to pay for restoration, which is a pity – it could be made into an interesting museum open to all. Dario said there were other such privately-owned sites that would be better put to use as public patrimony.

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The sign at the entrance says that the convent is open Monday thru Sunday 9 am – 5 pm.

KODAK Digital Still CameraOur first major stop was a 1736 Capuchin convent, called Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza, belonging to an order of Franciscan nuns. It has been partially restored and is open to the public. One interesting architectural innovation was the columns, which were wider at the bottom than at the top to create a sense of space.

 

This convent and church has several sections. One courtyard flanked by arched hallways had a number of carved stone slabs imprinted with religious or secular objects on display. Another area was a circular courtyard around which were small rooms with arched entryways and each equipped with its own “toilet” (a private area marked off with a hole to use for the purpose). A few of these rooms had wax figures of nuns who would go into these rooms for a private place to read or meditate.

The columns in this courtyard are wider at the bottom.

Stones with religious symbols on display

 

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The round courtyard with small rooms and passageways around it

 

Left: A wax figure of a nun in a private “room.” Right: passageway to another courtyard.

Some of the archways led to larger, more open rooms with windows onto other courtyards with trees and flowers.

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We gathered in a patio in front of the church entrance but did not go in – I’m not sure if it’s open to the public.

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We continued our walk down a cobblestone street with yellow arches over the street. Over one of these was a clock tower. Everywhere we walked, vendors followed us. A couple of young men, one with a Mohawk hairstyle played wooden flutes and tapped on hollow pieces to make percussion sounds. Women in traditional dress peddled their wares to anyone who paid even the slightest attention.

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Although many of the items were similar – beaded necklaces, fake jade pendants, beaded birds and earrings, woven cloths in various sizes, designs and colors – they were mostly quite nice and well made. They and we played the game of pretending the jade necklaces they were selling for $10 were “real” jade.

As I walked along one of the narrow sidewalks, I saw the woman in front of me negotiate with a vendor to buy three necklaces. I showed interest so she followed alongside me as I asked her about various necklaces. I spoke to her in Spanish. (She spoke enough English to sell stuff to tourists.) She wanted to sell me some that didn’t interest me; I wanted (fake) jade. As we walked along, she would show me some of her wares, then suddenly point down and tell me to be careful, there’s a pothole down there! This happened a couple of times. I was enjoying this, since I had had little opportunity to have a conversation in Spanish on this trip. I finally negotiated for 2 necklaces for $15. She wanted $20, and they were probably worth it, but I told her I needed $5 to tip the guide. She accepted this excuse and drew a five-dollar bill from a fold in her skirt, as change for my twenty dollar bill.

Many windows in town were draped with purple cloths, called cucuruchu (not to be confused with cucaracha, although tourists often did, Dario told us!), as preparation for Holy Week. We saw some of the statues that were being prepared for the Passion procession, a tradition here.

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We came to the Plaza Mayor, the main square, whose center featured a mermaid fountain – the mermaids had jets of water flowing from their breasts.KODAK Digital Still Camera

I saw a sign with the word sanitarios, but didn’t have the chance to follow up on that immediately without risking losing the group. Along one side of this plaza was the main cathedral, a pale yellow edifice decorated in Baroque style with white bas relief designs and statues. The symbols of Saint James (Santiago) were present in the design, including the shape of a shell. Dario pointed out one figure of a saint, high up over the main entrance, who was holding a black cross.

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The rest of the plaza had greenery flanking its walking paths and on the three sides not containing the cathedral were government buildings and arch covered walkways with rows of stores.

KODAK Digital Still CameraWe then walked to the ruin of a large church that seems to be in the (slow) process of restoration.

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After the ruin, we walked to the jade factory and museum Jade Maya, our last stop before lunch. Real jade was sold for high prices in high class shops like Jade Maya, which was a factory, museum and showroom where beautifully designed jewelry sold from $50 (for earrings) to over $500 (for stunningly crafted necklaces).  It was possible to get a cheap souvenir for $19, imprinted with the symbol of an animal which corresponded to your exact birthdate. The vendors looked up birthdates in a large book with small printing, containing every date for the last 100 years! The symbol for June 2, 1952 was “Iq” (pronounced “eek”) or colibrí (hummingbird). I bought the round pendant on a black lanyard and in the packaging was a card explaining the symbol’s significance.

 

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My real jade pendant

 

 

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Jade archaeological artifact at Jade Maya

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Courtyard at Jade Maya