Friday, February 27, 2009

Grey UK !!

What can I say- I've been a lazy blogger!! It’s been a non-stop couple of months!

First of all- Thank you for all the emails and texts etc concerned for my safety after Sundays horrific bombing in Cairo. I spoke with my friend at the Hussein Hotel and thankfully no one there was injured either… although seemingly some of the windows of the hotel were shattered in the blast. Some people have been writing to ask me if it is still safe to come to Cairo on holiday- what can I say? It’s as safe as anywhere in the world right now… It’s as safe as travelling on the London underground. We can only pray that these idiots who think killing innocent people is actually going to achieve anything positive in this world see sense as soon as possible and STOP.

Constant house guests have partaking of the charms of the 'fundoq el fananeen' ( artistes hotel!!!) That is going really well with people now booked in from all over the world to stay with me in my Cairo flat right up to November!!! I love having people around me- and its especially wonderful when they are fellow dancers. a friend came round to my flat on sunday to find me and 2 other dancers in my studio altering costumes, listening to music, showing each other moves and generally just being immersed in a wonderful, friendly, creative atmosphere. I love my life.

Work is always a bit slow at this time of year... not enough tourists coming to Cairo to have the two boats I work at (the Nile Pharaoh and the Golden Pharaoh) working to their max. In the peak of summer they can be running up to 5 cruises each!!!!! Just now, at this time of year, we are lucky if there are 4 cruises per day between the 2 boats. Not so great for us dancers.... especially since there are currently 5 of us working there (Lorna!, Joana, Outi, Leila and Hayem). However- the good side of this means that is it easier for me to be able to take some time off and come and see everyone in the UK!!!

So I am now in Edinburgh! Sorry- I did try and pack some sunshine into my suitcase- but it doesn't seem to have travelled well.........unfortunately.

I arrived last night, and am planning the majority of my time in UK to be family and friends based...In fact today is the birthday of my beautiful nephew, Sam. He is 3 today and getting a bike!

3 years.... That means that I have been living in Egypt now for just under 3 years (since I moved there only a few weeks after Sam was born). I find it so hard to believe the time has gone so quickly. Nearly 2 years working on the Pharaoh boats. Amazing! When I think about all the experiences I have had over that time;

· The numerous problems of that 1st year trying to get my work papers.

· Grappling with a new culture and language and climate. Oh the thousands of things that includes!

· Working as an employee, rather than self employed. A woman in a man’s world. Agnabi (a foreigner- and always will be treated as such).

· Working with my own band and live music. With the highs higher than imaginable but likewise the lows too!

· Dancing for audiences big and small from every country in the world. Presidents to tour groups. Princesses to prats.

· Learning the differences between what an Arab audiences will enjoy, compared to an Egyptian one, or a 'western' one.

· Learning to negotiate with people in all walks of life in Egyptian style, rather than the straight forward, cards on the table, British style!

· Dancing 'Egyptian' style rather than 'trying' to dance Egyptian style (only do-able I truly believe if you have spent a lot of time here... it goes so far beyond 'moves'!)

· Living alone- away from friends and family, away from all the things I had been used to in UK... learning more about myself and my values and what I really want from life.

actually- that list could go on and on... these are just a few things that jumped from my fingertips as I sit here.... looking at the grey sky and contemplating a walk along Portobello beach!

Dance stuff coming soon;

Cairo- info re fabulous teacher who I have been having lessons from recently and who has really helped me improve my dancing- details to follow!

Uk dancers- I have some dance events (workshops and performances) coming up soon! Blog entry with full details to follow!!!

In meantime- if any of the local dancers are interested in private classes- I am now in town- so email me!!!!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A day out in the desert

Well- why not?

I have lived in Egypt now for nearly 3 years and still feel I have seen soooo little of it.

My friends Nick, Marte, Sherif and I decided to explore a little so last sunday took us to Fayoum 'gateway of the Western desert'! I had been told, by another friend Sugrah, that the waterfalls there were well worth the trip. Its 170km south of Cairo and a fairly long drive, but with a car full of friends, and some music from my 'happy songs' playlist, the journey was part of the fun!! Especially with Boom Boom (a local caffine drink like red bull- essential for an early start since I dont drink coffee!)

The whole place was beautiful!

We went to the Wadi el-rayan and if we had thought to pack a picnic then we could have stayed for a whole day- actually probably overnight too (since they have a campsite!). The area is a prtoected area and the rock formations , sand dunes and fabulous lakes are to die for! A photographers dream come true, esp at sunset.

We took a small boat out onto water that was smooth like glass, we walked in river water that froze your feet like ice, we even climbed a cliff face that pushed our fear barriers!

We saw all sorts of birds including birds of prey (seemingly they have 169 species of bird in the area and they have a hide for those interested in spending more time watching them). There were snake tracks too (but thankfully no snakes- although the thought did add to the excitment while wading knee deep in the icy water!). Actually- interesting fact- marte and I were much more able to walk barefoot on the slippery rocks than either Nick or Sherif.... we put it down to our dancers training of balance, foot placement and of course- hard calloused feet!!!!! Oh- and the cameras tested our posing abilities too....

The silence was deafening, and the oxygen went to our heads.... fantastic to get away from wonderful, but, polluted Cairo.

like I said- if we had taken food with us, we would have stayed longer- as it was our stomachs called us away too soon............. so we didn't get to the Valley of the Whales (where they have discovered 40 million year old whale skelatons in the sands of the desert!!!!) or to the pyramids or the pottery sites the area is also known for.

Next time isa !!! (isa is shorthand for inshallah!!!)!
(more photos will be added as soon as I can get them downloaded!!!!)