2020 Photo Challenge: Shot From Above

Travel Words’ 2020 Photo Challenge theme for September is “point of view” and for this final week, the subject is shoot from above.

Looking down on Maasai villages from prop plane flying from Serengeti National Park to Arusha, Tanzania
Plane ride Serengeti-Arusha, Tanzania
Hotel room balcony view, Old Cataract Hotel, Aswan, Egypt
Ruins of Roman settlement during the siege of Masada, from Masada plateau, Israel
Looking down from the courtyard behind the abbey atop Mont St-Michel, France
Looking down on the Rhine River from Marksburg Castle in Germany
Looking down on hoodoos from the Rim Trail at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
A trail we chose to view from above rather than hike down! Bryce Canyon NP, Utah

LCPP: Without Power

Basil René’s Life Captured Photo Prompt (LCPP) this week has the topic without power.

I started thinking about things that don’t have power and first thought of living beings without power – children, defenseless animals kept in cages, black men in a police chokehold or being unable to breathe when pinned to the ground. However, among my own photos, I have only some some small, powerless animals:

ducklings!

These eight tiny ducklings are completely dependent on their mother – they will stay close and follow her wherever she goes. By instinct they know that without her they are powerless against larger, predator birds – even swans, a real danger in their environment.

Machines without motors (without power of their own) include:

wheelbarrows,

a rusted old broken down truck (in which a cactus is blooming!),

…and motorless boats, such as the Egyptian dahabeya:
Aida is a private cruise boat owned by the tour company Overseas Adventure Travel, modeled on the traditional dahabeya – a boat whose power depends on sails, or a tugboat to pull it. 

Unlike motorized cruise ships on the Nile, boats without motors are not allowed to travel at night – so Aida must dock every evening before sunset.

Being a Nile River cruise boat, Aida was more efficient being pulled by a tugboat in order to reliably follow a set itinerary. Sails would mean depending on the speed and direction of the wind. The above photo was taken from another boat so we could see what it looked like with its sails unfurled. It was the only time on the cruise that the sails were used.

This is another, smaller dahabeya.

Now…how do I take a photo of a home during a blackout?

CFFC: Yummy!!!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues exploring the senses; this week it is tasting.

We have 5 basic type of tastes registered by our taste buds: bitter, salty, sour, sweet and savory. Sometimes fat is considered a 6th taste.

The American diet contains a lot of processed foods, which add salt to them – salt is a preservative. So we eat too much salt, as well as fat and sweets. High-salt diets can cause fluid to build up in your body, especially if you have a heart condition like I do. A tell-tale sign is swollen ankles but also lots of coughing, the result of fluid build-up in the lungs. That is why I try to maintain a low-salt diet.

If we would stick to “real” food, that is, food provided to us by nature, we would be a lot healthier.

Garden tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes always taste the best! (citrusy: sour, also savory)20190817_193324
Baclava – Vienna’s Naschmarkt  (sweet – taste of honey)
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Vegetables and fruit for sale at Vienna’s Naschmarkt (mostly savory, some bitter)
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sweet & savory fruits!
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Breads in Israel – most breads are put in the salty category, but some, like pita bread, are classified as savory
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In Egypt, I fell in love with Middle Eastern food!!

We had a home-hosted dinner at the home of an Egyptian family in Luxor.

We also had a five-day cruise on the Nile on our own private boat with excellent chefs! Rice and peppers – definitely savory!
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A whole fish! – Nile perch (savory,  salty also)
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A New Year’s cake (oh so sweet!)
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Spices for sale at an Egyptian market – spices add flavor or heat to a dish, and some can be bitter.
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I don’t normally take pictures of food (except when traveling), but sometimes I can’t resist, like this savory shrimp appetizer at a restaurant!
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Holiday cookies from my church’s annual “cookie walk!” (Totally bad-for-you sweet, but the holidays are a time for celebrating!! Eat these in moderation!)
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I will end where I started – with fresh grown vegetables, from a local farmers’ market.

 

 

Top o’ the Morning!

I don’t usually get up early. Especially now – what’s the point? I can’t go anywhere anyway! I have a routine of getting up, getting a cup of tea (I can’t tolerate coffee anymore, although I love it), a banana and a piece of Babybel cheese, and then going to a comfortable spot to read and enjoy my morning snack. In warm weather, I like to sit on the porch and breathe the morning air. So it’s usually 10 a.m. or later before I get going with my day.

But when we travel with tour groups, we often have to get up very early, and on those occasions I do have the opportunity to appreciate the early morning, or Top o’ the morning, as the Irish say, (and in order to fit into Becky’s April Square Tops!)

So for Lens-Artists photo challenge#93 with the topic morning, I am posting some photos I took early in the morning while traveling, mostly with tours, in 2018-2019.

ON SAFARI
On safari, it’s a given to get up really early, so you can have breakfast and go on a game drive in the early morning when the animals tend to be more active. So every day, our alarm was set for 6 a.m. – when I hear that alarm tune on my husband’s tablet, I still think I’m in Tanzania!

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On the patio of our lodge at Tarangire – 6:48 a.m.

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Same exact time the next morning – what a view overlooking Tarangire National Park!

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After this beautiful sunrise in Serengeti National Park…

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…we had a picnic breakfast in the park!

DES MOINES, IOWA
My husband tends to wake up really early whenever we’re sleeping somewhere away from home. Sometimes he wakes me up too. Here we got a great photo overlooking the river toward downtown Des Moines. You can see the capitol building in the distance!

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From Best Western hotel room window, 7:12 a.m. in late September

EGYPT
We were in Egypt in the winter, so I often captured the rising sun between 8 and 9 a.m.!

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The Great Pyramid of Giza, at 9:46 a.m.

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View from our hotel room at the Sofitel Winter Palace in Luxor, 6:53 a.m.

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We took a 5-day cruise up the Nile, in an Egyptian style dahabeya. This type of boat doesn’t have a motor – it’s towed by tug or unfurls its sails, but because of this, we couldn’t travel at night. We docked at Besaw Island one night, and in the morning, the trees were golden in the light of the rising sun, at 6:58 a.m.

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At the end of the five-day cruise, we had arrived at Aswan, where we had to disembark. We had a long day ahead, so I took this shot at 6:24 a.m. at the breakfast table on board.

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The next morning, we were at a rustic lodge in Abu Simbel, where I took this photo from the patio, with a view of several islands on this part of the Nile. Since the Aswan High Dam was built, this part of the Nile is now a lake. 6:57 a.m.

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This was part of our view from Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan (where Agatha Christie wrote her famous mystery, Death on the Nile) at 7:20 a.m.

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At 6:22 a.m. the next morning, we were already on a bus which would take us to the Aswan airport, to fly back to Cairo.

ISRAEL
In order to cram as many sites as possible into one day, our tour company in Israel required us to be on the bus no later than 7:30. So we got up at 6 a.m. every morning, and went downstairs to breakfast between 6:30 and 7:00.

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We were on the road already when I took this photo of the Sea of Galilee receiving rays from the early morning sun, at 7:52 a.m. in early January 2019.

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The next day, I took this photo at 6:57 a.m. from our hotel room overlooking Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee, before we went down to breakfast.

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We traveled south toward the Dead Sea, seen here between 7 and 8 a.m.

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We were in Jerusalem for the last few days of the tour. This is at the Church of All Nations, at 7:50 a.m. We explored the outside first, and were allowed inside at 8:00.

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Only a few of the faithful are at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to say their prayers at 8:05 a.m. The women’s section is more crowded because it is a lot smaller.

EUROPE
On our European cruise last summer, we only had to get up very early a couple of days. Usually, we’d wake up and go out on the balcony of our stateroom.

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I must have had insomnia, because I took this photo as we were cruising into Vienna at 3:56 a.m. in early July!

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The sun was full up on this cloudy day when I took this photo. It was 8:55 a.m. and I was getting my first look at Budapest just before our ship docked!

Although when I’m home, I stay up late (I’m writing this after midnight! – I’m late, sorry, Becky!) and get up late the next morning, when we travel, even on days we don’t have to get up early, we usually do because we are excited! I cherish these last trips we took before the quarantine put a stop to my planning for the next trip, scheduled for this month! But we won’t be stuck at home forever, and I look forward to more adventures soon!

 

 

 

 

Lens-Artists #89: A River Runs Through It

Amy at Lens-Artists has as her theme for this week’s challenge: river.

Starting out close to home, here is the Des Plaines River during a November walk on the Des Plaines River Trail. This is a very pretty stretch of the slow-moving river, but it is responsible for many floods in the cities along its banks due to heavy rain.
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The Des Plaines River, which gave the suburban city that was my home for over 30 years its name, flows 133 miles southward from southern Wisconsin to south of Joliet, Illinois, where it joins the Kankakee River and becomes part of the Illinois River. Contrary to popular opinion, Des Plaines, a French name, does not mean “of the plains.” It actually refers to either the sycamore or the maple tree, which resembles the European plane tree, and was named by French traders in the 18th century.

The Chicago River is prominently featured in many photos of downtown Chicago and can be viewed from any of the bridges on  main thoroughfares of the city. This photo was taken at Michigan and Wacker near the site of the original Fort Dearborn.
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Chicago celebrates its river by dying it Kelly green every St. Patrick’s Day (although they didn’t do that this year – celebrations were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic), by constructing a pleasant river walk lined with eateries, which is still under construction, and opening a River Museum that tells the story of the Chicago River and offers nice views of the river from its windows. The river is most famous for an engineering feat undertaken at the turn of the 20th century: the main stem of the river’s flow was reversed so that it now flows out of Lake Michigan, through a system of locks. This increased the volume of the river, which now empties into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

The Colorado River is the most iconic and important river in southwestern United States. It is responsible for carving some of the most beautiful scenery of the west, including the Grand Canyon and others preserved in 11 national parks. This photo was  taken at the Grand Canyon and is strangely the only photo I have of the river!
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The Colorado River starts in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and meanders southward 1,450 miles to the Gulf of California. The river and its tributaries provide water for 40 million people in the Southwest. Native Americans have occupied the Colorado Basin for at least 8,000 years and the culture of the region is strongly influenced by their presence. The Desert View Watchtower, from where the above photo was taken, was designed by Mary Colter who took inspiration from the native peoples that inhabited and continue to dwell in the region. Below is the Watchtower from the inside and outside.


No tour of American rivers would be complete without the Mighty Mississippi! Below are two photos of the river just north of St. Louis on the Illinois side of the border. It was nearly sunset when we got to this spot.
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A view of a couple of the bridges across the Mississippi at that spot
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Flowing southward 2,320 miles from its origin near Lake Itasca, Minnesota, it is the second longest river in North America. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi watershed drains 32 American states and 2 Canadian provinces. Native Americans have lived along this river for thousands of years, including the mound builders who are now thought to have been one of the major ancient civilizations in the Americas. The region along which it passes is very fertile and it is now a common riverboat cruise vacation, inspired by the steamboats that have plied its waters for the last two centuries, as well as other riverboats carrying cargo, animals and people as a main form of transportation.

Jumping to another continent, Africa is home to the longest river in the world, the Nile. The Nile was at the center of the ancient Egyptian civilization, which grew up along its banks where the land was fertile. The ancient Egyptians depended on its annual inundation, which no longer occurs due to dams, especially the High Dam of Aswan.
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Sunset on the Nile:
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Fishermen on the Nile

The Nile originates south of the equator and flows northward 4,132 miles to empty into the Mediterranean Sea. The ancient Egyptians called the river Ar or Aur, meaning “black” due to the color of the mud created by the sediments when it was flooded. Because of the direction of flow from south to north, the ancient Egyptians referred to their southern territory as “Upper Egypt” and the northern territory and the Delta “Lower Egypt.”

The most famous river in the Bible is the Jordan River. Many songs and prayers refer to it and today many pilgrims go to the river to be baptized.
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A friend about to be baptized at Yardenit Baptismal Center
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The Jordan River connects the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. 156 miles long, it runs north to south along the border between Jordan, the Palestinian West Bank, Israel and Southwestern Syria.

Another river in Israel is the Dan. The Dan River originates in Israel and is the largest of the three principal tributaries of the Jordan River. The Dan River flows from Tel Dan, the site of the biblical city of Dan (Laish). The river is fed by the rains and snowmelt that pass through the rock of Mount Hermon and emerge at its foot to form hundreds of springs.
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The Tel Dan Nature Reserve has hiking trails and encompasses the ruins of Tel Dan.

Last summer we took a river cruise in Europe, on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers.
Cruises on the Rhine River are popular, because one can view a series of medieval castles rising on the hills along its banks, as well as sample a variety of wines grown in its vineyards that cover the hillsides. This photo was taken from Marksburg Castle in Germany.
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Wine growing and castles are beautiful scenery on the Rhine.

The Rhine is the second longest river in central/west Europe, about 760 miles (1,230 km) long. It originates in the Swiss Alps and flows north to empty into the North Sea. The Rhine and Danube rivers comprised most of the northern inland frontier of the Roman Empire.

Through a series of locks, a river cruise travels from the Rhine into the Main River and then into the Danube. The Main River is located entirely within Germany.
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We went through a series of locks.

The Main River is 326 miles (525 km) long, the longest tributary of the Rhine. Major cities along the Main include Frankfurt and Würzburg.

The Danube River is the second longest river in Europe (longest is the Volga) and flows through 10 countries, more than any other river in the world.
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The Danube, called Donau in German, flows 1,770 miles (2,580 km) southeast, originating in the Black Forest of Germany and emptying into the Black Sea. Four national capitals are located along the river: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Belgrade.

A tributary of the Danube is the Inn River which flows through Switzerland, Austria and southern Germany.
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Ducks on the Inn River at Schärding, Austria
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The Inn is 322 miles (518 km) long and forms part of the Austria-Germany border at Passau. There is a coin-sized marker on this bridge, indicating the border: on the left is Germany, on the right is Austria.
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Landscapes Around the World

Nancy’s A Photo A Week challenge this week features landscapes.

These are some landscapes from my travels, and closer to home.

July in Austria – scene looking down from Melk Abbey, where the Inn and Danube Rivers meet.
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Austria – cruising the Inn River near Schärding
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June at Kinderdijk, Netherlands
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February in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
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Mount Kilimanjaro – on a flight from the Serengeti to Arusha, Tanzania
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Des Plaines, Illinois on a snowy February day
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June at Devil’s Elbow Bridge, Missouri
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June at the Painted Desert, Arizona
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May at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
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June in Arches National Park, Utah
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December along the Nile River near Luxor, Egypt
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Going Out in a Blaze of Sunsets

It’s the last day of Becky’s January Square with the topic of ____light, and I am ending my participation with refracted light, such as the light that makes sunsets so colorful!

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Tanzania
2-7 sunrise-Ngorongoro (2)2-11 sunset over Serengeti (2)

Illinois (Mississippi River)
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Illinois – Arlington Heights
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Mont St.-Michel, France
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Egypt (on the Nile)
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On the Caribbean Sea
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Lens-Artist #64: Countryside and/or Small Town

Lens-Artists #64 has the theme Countryside and/or Small Towns. We saw many beautiful places on our European vacation in June/July. Yes, it was exciting to visit large cities like Paris and Amsterdam, but the most beautiful places were the rural areas and small towns. I also include beautiful country scenes from other trips.

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Kinderdijk, the Netherlands, on the Rhine. This is a popular place for cruises to stop because of the beauty of the many windmills. Each windmill is the home of a local family.

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Wine-growing on the Main River in Germany

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Farm near the border of Germany and Austria

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Village in Normandy, France

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Besaw Island on the Nile River, Egypt

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Lake in Arusha National Park, Tanzania

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Desert of rural Israel

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Scene from Devils Elbow Bridge, Missouri

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Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

 

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North of Sedona, Arizona

Journey to Egypt, Part 21: Last Night on the Aida

January 1-2, 2019

Tonight was to be our last night on our lovely dahabeya, the Aida, so there was a celebration. When we returned from the Daraw livestock market, of course, the steward had cleaned our room as he did every day. Anyone who has been on a cruise knows about towel art: you come back to your stateroom to find a creation on your bed using towels. Today mine was these lovely swans, whose heads bent together form a heart.
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Dale’s was different: The towels were in the shape of an ankh, to match the one he had received from the crate maker the previous day.
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It also seems to be standard practice to make an ape on the last day. The ape was hanging in the hallway! Ahmed, the towel artist (our steward) poses with his creation here, with toilet paper hanging down – maybe to represent a sort of tree rope?
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The cooks had made a special cake and other special desserts for us on New Year’s Eve.
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Tonight the crew prepared a fabulous dinner (as they had every night!); not to be outdone on New Year’s Eve, this was our dessert tonight!
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During dinner, they came in singing and dancing, accompanied by tambourines.
20190101_19395020190101_194029Everybody loved the crew – they had been so nice and friendly, not to mention efficient in making us comfortable for the last five days!

It was sad to have to leave the next morning, so on our last afternoon and evening, we enjoyed the view.

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Boys on shore give us a thumbs up as our dahabeya takes off from the dock at Daraw.

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The city of Aswan – our cruise’s destination – at night.

We were up early the next morning, and were greeted by this beautiful sunrise.
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Now we looked forward to the last days of our journey to Egypt – Aswan and Abu Simbel!

 

Journey to Egypt, Part 18: The Crate Maker of Fares Island

December 31, 2018

Our dahabeya Aida docked this morning at the island of Fares. We were going to see a local craftsman, the last crate maker in Upper (southern) Egypt. Transportation to the crate maker’s home was via “tuk-tuk,” two passengers per vehicle!
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We bumped and jostled along the dusty roads of Fares village, observing our surroundings through fringed open sides.
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We could peek at our driver through a heart-shaped cut in the material in front of us.
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Our little caravan of tuk-tuks finally arrived at the crate maker’s home and were taken around to the back of the house.DSC_0416
We saw piles of date palm reeds, the raw material of the hand-made crates, which were stacked up behind the craftsman’s work space.
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The crate maker’s work space

Mohammed (the crate maker – not to be confused with our guide of the same name!) has his reeds shipped to him from elsewhere, from mature date palms (at least a year old). The reeds have to be dried but no longer than 20 days. The dried reeds are strong, yet pliable for splitting and cutting holes in them.

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One of the crate maker’s assistants

Mohammed could not stop his work as he talked to us – he was working on an order for 20,000 crates to hold mangoes, which are grown in this area. These will be shipped to Cairo, and some of them exported. The crates can be different sizes and last 7-10 years.

Mohammed himself is 58 and has been doing this work for over 40 years.  We asked if his children are learning this craft. He told us his children are in school – he doesn’t want them to learn the craft, which taxes the body and presumably doesn’t pay very well.

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First, he cuts the reeds into the lengths needed.

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Mohammed uses pieces that have already been cut at the correct length to measure other pieces.

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He then cuts the section of reed lengthwise with a scythe, which requires great precision.

Mohammed uses both his hands and his feet to make the crates. Machines cannot do this job with the same precision. People who practice this craft don’t stay in it long, due to the position of their body, sitting on the ground for long periods, which is why it is a dying craft.

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Mohammed steadies the section of reed while he uses a large nail and makeshift hammer to cut holes along its length.

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As  he works, he answers our questions which are translated by our guide Mohamed.

However, he does have assistants, so between them they can produce 5 million crates a year. He himself makes 150 crates a week.

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An assistant awaits instructions against a backdrop of date palms.

Mohammed could not stop his work as he talked to us – he was working on an order for 20,000 crates to hold mangoes, which are grown in this area. These will be shipped to Cairo, and some of them exported. The crates can be different sizes and last 7-10 years.

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Sample of one of Mohammed’s more elaborate creations, which was passed around among us.

Mohammed uses both his hands and his feet to make the crates. Machines cannot do this job with the same precision. People who practice this craft don’t stay in it long, due to the position of their body, sitting on the ground for long periods, which is why it is a dying craft.
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As  he works, he answers our questions which are translated by our guide Mohamed.

Mohammed himself is 58 and has been doing this work for over 40 years. We asked if his children are learning this craft. He told us his children are in school – he doesn’t want them to learn the craft, which taxes the body and presumably doesn’t pay very well.

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These piles of reed sections are ready for assembling the crate – the pieces with holes drilled in them will anchor the side pieces (the narrower pieces in the other pile) that fit through the holes.

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An assistant awaits instructions against a backdrop of date palms.

SONY DSCHowever, he does have assistants, so between them they can produce 5 million crates a year. He himself makes 150 crates a week. Because he was kind enough to invite us to see him at work, three women from our group became his temporary assistants!

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Mohammed hands Lizz some materials…

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…and shows her what to do.

Through demonstration and imitation,…
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Assembling the base of the crate

…Lizz, Kathy and Michelle were able to be efficient crate producers, and with their help, Mohammed was able to finish twice as many crates in the time we were there!

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The vertical pieces are fit through the holes on the horizontal pieces.

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12 horizontal pieces and 4 vertical pieces form the frame.
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They’re almost finished as Mohammed fits in the bottom cross pieces.
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Michelle takes over to help make the next crate.

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Michelle slides a horizontal piece through two verticals to construct the frame.

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Photo op! Mohammed will not actually have Michelle make the lengthwise cut!

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Michelle helps finish a frame.

A small crate with a handle was given to Lizz as a gift for being a great assistant! Everyone was given an ankh made of date palm reeds.
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Kathy was the last volunteer.

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Kathy hammers a length of vertical piece into a hole.

Two of the finished crates!
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We thanked the craftsman and his assistants and family and said good-bye, then we headed back to our tuk-tuks for the ride back to where Aida was moored.  As we approached the pier on the river, I saw a snake handler with several cobras! (Fortunately, we were some distance away; I took this photo with my telephoto lens!)
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