1001 Nights - Stories of Traditional Handcrafts from Egypt

History of Garagos Pottery and more ……….

Posts for Tag: river nile

Tuesday 6th March 2012 - I Fall for Garagos!

Today we are going to visit the pottery and Peter has already made arrangements with Mr Riad to meet us there. We have to be there early as Mr Riad is going to a funeral at 12 o'clock. This morning we skip breakfast but drink tea to give us the little kick start we need. Before we leave the first floor Peter's mother offers to lend me something to wear – I guess that she means something that completely covers my body. I am already wearing full length trousers and a tunic that has a round neck and three quarter sleeves. In fact it is the top that I have worn before which seemed perfectly acceptable and I can't imagine how much more I can cover up. I decline her offer but do put a tunic with even longer sleeves over the top of my other top. I always dress modestly in the village but there seems to be more concern than usual about adhering to an appropriate dress code – not within the family but in other parts of the village. It's now about 9 am and we make our way down from the first floor to go outside. In front of me on the granite staircase is Peter and his father. The stairwell is dark, as we don't bother to switch the light on. The next bit, is a bit of a blur, as I misplaced my footing, thinking that I had reached the bottom of the first flight of stairs, when in fact I hadn't. All I remember is falling forward, landing with full force of my weight on my right knee.

My first thought was what a fool I must look in front of Peter's father, scrabbling around on the floor – not very elegant at all! I stand up and take a few moments to assess how I feel and where it hurts. Peter and his father are asking me if I'm all right and I repeat a couple of times that I am OK. To be truthful I just needed to get out of the dark stairwell and go and lie down. I felt a little odd, at first I couldn't quite describe it, but then as the blood drained from my face I knew I had to get off my feet as soon as possible. I could walk back up the flight of stairs okay, so I kind of guessed that my leg wasn't broken but it did hurt like billyo!

I lay down for about half an hour. Peter's father asks if he should call a doctor. My leg is throbbing but at this stage I don't feel it requires a doctor. I'm also not quite sure to what lengths they would have to go to bring one here. I will be back home tomorrow night so can assess how my leg is then. I know that we are going back to Luxor later that day so I also don't want to miss the opportunity to pick up a few more pieces of pottery to take home - regardless of a certain curiosity to check out the local health service! Peter's mother brings in a tube of cream for my leg. It says in English that it is for trauma caused by falls. I'm not sure if it can help, but rub it onto my knee anyway.

When I get up I find that I can walk but can't bend my leg. I imagine I'll wake up tomorrow with a massive bruise on my knee.

We set off again to the pottery. Once Peter's father has seen us down the staircase (safely) he turns left to go to the farm and we turn right to go to the pottery. I limp along the street slowly. Peter had told me before we left not to speak to anyone – especially the children if they approach me in the street. During our trip in September, in the short walk from the house to the pottery we had a small crowd of children following us trying to talk to me in English. It couldn't be described as threatening but it did at times feel a little uncomfortable.

This time there are very few children around – they are probably all in school. As we walk down “Montgolfier Road” I notice that the fields to the right that had been laid out with large squares of dates to dry September, were now home to well established wheat crops – land is never left fallow very long - it's too much of a valuable resource.

Mr Riad greets us at the Garagos pottery. He wants to take us over to the kiln to show us some pottery that has just finished being fired. It isn't possible to see all stages of the process when you come to the pottery but by now I think we've seen it all. Mr Riad tells us to listen to the pottery singing and sure enough, like a clay choir, each piece took a turn to make a high pitched 'chink' sound as it's body temperature acclimatised to the cooler air.


We know we don't have much time to spend at the pottery today so go to the store room and pick out a number of pieces to take home. Mr Riad offers us tea and Mr Louis brings it for us. We spend a bit of time talking to Mr Riad about the development of the pottery again. He confirms bits of information that we already have but again I think that we need to have some concentrated time with Mr Riad to talk in more detail – but as I mentioned before – bit by bit.

Before we leave the pottery we decide to go and visit the kindergarten which is located in a tall building behind the pottery. This building was built by the church, originally with the idea of developing it into a hotel for tourists who had come to visit the village. This was at a time when many tourists were coming to Garagos. Unfortunately this was no longer the case after the Queen Hatchepsut's atrocity. The building was never completed, however the ground floor has been converted into a kindergarten for the local school children.

We walk into a large open grassed area where children are playing. We are greeted with a large radiant smile by Sister Mariam who oversees the day to day running of the kindergarten including the administrative duties. We stay outside until the children have finished their playtime. Some of the children come and say hello to me in English – one little girl holds her arms out to me and kisses me on the cheek.

We go inside the building and Sister Mariam introduces us to some of the staff working there. We are shown around the two classrooms which are for KDG1 and KDG2. Shortly after a female relative of Peter's comes into the room to say hello to us. Sister Mariam invites her to join us and offers to make tea telling us that “our house is your house”.

Time is running by. We have quite a few more visits to make so decide to make tracks back to the house. We say goodbye to Sister Mariam and Peter's aunt and walk (or hobble) out of the pottery and kindergarten complex and back down Montgolfier Road. As we turn off this road past the wheat fields, Peter tells me that he has noticed a couple of people videoing me on their mobile phones – they're not used to seeing Westerners in the village. I imagine video's of this strange limping woman being posted onto Youtube!

We hear the loud, booming voice of Peter's Uncle Romani who is standing in front of a shop – when I say shop this is more of a roadside shack. After greetings we are invited back to his home for tea. Mr Romani's house is just around the corner – all the family live in such close proximity to each other. We walk into a bright hallway where two elderly ladies clad in black sit on chairs shelling nuts. They are introduced to me as the mother of Romani and the mother of Romani's wife. This is a large house which is decorated beautifully with gold embellishments along the cornice line. There are long cane benches along three of the main walls furnished with blue and yellow cushions – clearly the house of a successful man. Mr Romani is clearly proud of the room as he asks me what I think of it and I tell him that I like it very much. Dominating the room is a large photograph of William Mr Romani's son who died tragically in a car accident at the age of 22.

This is another visit that ends up a longer stay than we planned as we begin talking about the family history and Father Montgolfier. Peter's cousin Maged joins us and he speaks good English which is a relief for Peter who is suffering from interpretation fatigue. We spend over an hour talking about the history of Garagos and then another talking about politics (I'm not involved in the latter). This is broken up by a short break to eat a lunch of boiled eggs, bread, cheese Maged's father pops in at one point briefly as does a couple of other family members. Uncle Romani has given us lots of information this afternoon – not all of it new information but it is helpful to cross reference it with other things we have been told. It's now early afternoon and we had planned to leave at 2.00pm to go back to Luxor. I sort of had a feeling that we wouldn't be going back today so start calculating in my mind what time we will need to leave Garagos in the morning if we still need to pack and check out by 12.00pm.

Maged offers to take us to the village flour mill which is owned by Mr Romani, Maged's father and another member of the family. We turn left out of the house and walk no further than 20 yards to a large building. Firstly we are taken around the back of the building where Maged shows us an old disused water pump – Mr Romani's business (as well as government work in a school) is installing industrial water pumps for both agricultural and domestic use. The mill, the only one in the village used to pump water as well as mill the grain to produce flour. He points up to the roof to a whistle which used to be sounded to let the villagers know that the next batch of freshly ground flour was now ready to purchase.

Maged then takes us into a room in the back of the mill which houses a large engine - from the metal plate it indicates that it is of German construction.

We then follow Maged around to the front of the mill where a couple of elderly ladies dressed in black are filling bags with flour straight from the mouth of the tube connected to the milling machine. This has been very interesting to see and we thank Maged for showing us. We all walk back together to Mr Romani's house and Om Romani is sitting outside on the cane bench - Peter chats to her for a little while before we return back to the family home.

We go up to the first floor where Peter's Mother and father are watching television. I've taken the stairs one at a time as I can't bend my right leg and wonder now if we should have called a doctor after all. Anyway, I need to stop harping on about my knee!

We are offered food and tea but we had recently eaten at Mr Romani's so opt just for tea. We are told by Peter's father that Ehab is home from Safaga and that there is going to be a party for Sara and Susanna's birthday this evening. We tell them that we have already decided to stay until the morning but will need to leave early as we need to pack and check out by 12.00 lunchtime.

It's now late afternoon and we still haven't managed to visit the families that we said we would. Because the average visit can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours we decide to go and visit Peter's Aunt Matilda and her husband Mr Labib. This is always a lively house to visit with several generations of family living together in this large house. The house is a two minute walk. Along the way neighbours greet Peter and vice versa.

We first walk through an entrance to an outdoor area which has a hedge of Rahan (Egyptian Basil) growing. The aroma seems to peak in early evening. To enter the large double doorway we have to climb over a mound of sand that has been tipped in front of the doorway – I don't ask but assume building work is in progress somewhere. I grab hold of the metal door and haul my body over the sand hill dragging my leg behind me!

Mr Labib is sitting at a table in the large room reading a paper. Also in the room is cousin's Shaib and Aiyad. After exchanging greetings we are told that Peter's Aunt Matilda is out milking the cow but will be back shortly. Other family members come in to greet us – cousins Yvonne, Akmel and his two children Nardine and one year old  baby  and Akmels wife Katerine. Also Kissinger and his sons Mina and Shenouda. Gerges also pops in briefly but can't stay as he is meeting his fiance that evening. Matilda returns with a pale of milk. She speaks little English but we converse better in limited French (limited on my part as Matilda speaks fluent French from living with and being educated by French nuns).

Nardine, Mina and Shenouda play in the other side of the room. We watched them join hands and move in an out of the circle singing a song called "Eftahee ya warda" The song is about the opening and closing of a flower.

Peter's father has now joined us and it isn't long before the discussion turns to politics. It appears to be quite an involved discussion and I have no idea of what is being said but the children have brought out a box of plastic figures which they proceed to step out onto the chair in front of me. We occupy ourselves - the children asking me what the name for a certain object is in English and in return I asked them what the name for it is all in Arabic. And Matilda asked us if we would like to stay something to eat but Peter tells her that we have been invited to a barbecue at Mr Riad's house to celebrate the birthdays of Sara and Susanna.

Before we leave me take a few photographs of the family group and then make way to Mr Riad's house.

As we enter the house there are a lot of activity going on. Ehab is hanging balloons around the room, Margreet and Mr Riad's wife (Om Osama) along with Andre's wife Marmar are preparing food. Waseem tells me that he's going to be the chef of the night and is going outside to get the barbecue going and Sara and Susanna are playing with new birthday presents - a toy laptop each.

The men of the family take out tables and chairs to a passageway between their's and the house next door. We are invited to come and sit outside and and have a drink whilst the food is prepared. Michael has now joined us and along with Peter, Waseem and Andre they all take turns at trying to get the barbecue going.

Shortly after, a turbaned gentleman appears at the bottom of the alley riding a donkey. I am told this is Bakheet, a cousin and uncle somewhere in the family. Bakheet tethers his donkey to an empty gas bottle at the front of the house and comes to join us.

It isn't long before Mr Riad brings out a bottle of whiskey and offers it around. All of the adults except for Michael who is fasting, accept a shot. Several rounds of whiskey go around the group, and although I don't particularly like blended whiskey I accept the third glass of whiskey, explaining that I am taking it just for the pain!

I think the whiskey has gone to Bakheet's head because Mr Riad explains that he won't be going home on his donkey tonight but will stay here – apparently he can see three donkeys!

I looked down the alleyway and can hear excited laughter from Sara and Susanna. Ehab has climbed onto Bakheet's donkey and Peter has lifted Sara and Susanna in front of him. He takes them for a short ride up and down in front of the row of houses. When they are lifted off the donkey the stand on the mastaba at the front of the house – Sara happily plays with the donkey's ears but Susanna seeks refuge in the arms of Peter, clearly a bit more cautious about approaching the donkey. Riding on it is one thing but stroking it is another.

Waseem has done a good job of cooking the chicken on the barbecue however, it has turned a little chilly so we decided to continue the party indoors. Plates of food are brought out from the kitchen and put onto a long table. Egyptian tables are clearly built with large families in mind and most of us managed to squeeze around. Those that don't fit take seats elsewhere in the large room. There is barbecued chicken, macaroni, soup, fresh bread and salad on offer.

After the table is cleared of plates, two large cakes are brought to the table. They have been decorated with cream and fresh strawberries and are adorned with decorative birthday candles. The candles are lit, the lights go out and “Happy birthday” is sung in English and then Arabic to Sara and Susanna.

Time is running very quickly. It is now nearly midnight and we have to be up early in the morning to return to Luxor to pack before checking out. It's been a very enjoyable night and great to have been able to share in the birthday celebrations of Sara and Susanna. We probably won't have time to see anybody in the morning so we say our goodbyes now before leaving Mr Riad's house. We walk with Peter's father and Michael back to the house. Peter's mother is already in bed and Peter and I go straight to bed without a shower. 

I reflect on the trip with Peter.  One week has gone by so quickly.  It has been a real joy spending time in Garagos again but I think next time we will need to spend more concentrated time here.  I have probably learnt more about the village than I realise.  Not necessarily about it's history and it's development through the Catholic Church but about how far more conservative it is than Luxor - and Luxor is in comparison to Cairo and Alexandria, very conservative. 

The family are very willing to talk about Garagos but they all have slightly different versions of events from each other, but regarding dates when the Jesuits came to the village etc we can verify this with the church itself.  On occasion I have detected slight tensions from within the family particularly around religion.  Although all Christian, the family is still divided on some beliefs between the Coptic Church and the Catholic Church.  I'm sure Peter's parents will talk to him more next week about a number of issues. 

My knee has now swollen to quite a size but there is hardly a mark where I expected to see bruising. The village dust has permeated every pore of my skin and for now I imagine the luxury of a full-on bubble bath tomorrow morning back at the hotel. 

Sunday 4th March 2012 - Hooray - We Make it to the Valley of the Kings!

This morning the alarm goes off at 5:30 AM. The driver Mahmoud is due to pick Lou and Bev up from their hotel at 6 AM this morning. Peter calls Mahmoud who tells him he will be at the hotel shortly. At 6 AM Peter phones Mahmoud again who says that Louis and Bev are now with him. They tell us they are fine and ready to set off. We keep in touch with them until we know that they have 'finally' made it through the checkpoint – which thank heavens they did! We decide to get a few more hours sleep before getting up.

At 8:30 AM we get up and go for breakfast and then sit in the hotel foyer waiting for them. During this time Peter makes more phone calls to check their location. At about 9.30 they arrive at the hotel. We greet them and invite them all into the hotel for a cup of tea before we start the days excursion. We sit out on the terrace and let them take in some refreshments after the 3.5 hour journey. I then take Lou and Bev down to the bottom of the hotel grounds to show them the view over the River Nile. I point out the Theban mountains and tell them that this is where we are going to go first. 

I advise a toilet break to everyone as the toilet facilities cannot be guaranteed once out of the hotel. We set off in the car with Mahmoud and head out of Karnak into Luxor. There is still a light breeze today which I'm sure we will be grateful for once we reach the Valley of the Kings. We drive down the Corniche and head out towards Awamia, passing the Sonesta Hotel on our way. We tell them that they won't see scenes like this along the red Sea coastline - this is the real Egypt. After we cross the bridge over the Nile Peter explains that the West bank is the gateway to the amazing Valley of the Kings. The east bank of the Nile is the city of the living. Luxor and Karnak temples greet the sunrise. The sunset on the west bank throws shadows over the City of the Dead - the Tombs of the Nobles, the Valley of the Kings and Queen Hatshepsut’s temple.

The first stop is at the Colossus of Memnon - this is only a quick photo opportunity especially as the hassle from the souvenir sellers is too much - very persistent - even when Peter tries to intervene.  

We get back into the car and continue our journey into the Theban Mountains. We can see how much more excavation has been done behind the Colossus of Memnon. Several statues that must've been laid flat out during the earthquake, have now been re-erected and are standing vertically once more.

We drive past Carter's house sitting on top of the hill overlooking the mountain. In front of us we can see old Gourna village and the last few remaining houses sitting on top of the necropolis. We tell them about how families have lived there for generations and have made their living from robbing the tombs that lay beneath their houses. We then tell them how Hassan Fathy the famous Egyptian architect was commissioned to design and build a village to rehouse these local people.


To the right of us we can see the Ramuseum and in front of that some mud brick granaries. We drive down the winding tarmac roads that takes us up into the mountains and then down into the valley. When we get out of the car we are surrounded by men and children trying to sell as postcards, statues, anything that they can. Again the hassle is still quite full on. We walked through a small selection of shops selling the usual tourist items and then head into the museum entrance where there is a model of the Valley of the Kings. Waiting for us on the other side are small carts that will drive us further into the valley – and again more souvenir sellers trying their best to make a sale. One young boy climbs onto the front of the vehicle we are sitting in – I can see that Bev finds it difficult to refuse the children. We have already bought a pack of postcards. As the carts set off the boy is still clinging to the front of our vehicle. Eventually he gives up and jumps off – returning to the entrance for the next batch of tourists.

Once at the ticket kiosk we decide which tombs we are going to see and the man in the kiosk recommends the tomb of Tausert. Tausert was the Queen and last pharaoh of the 19th dynasty. We also decide to visit the tombs of Ramses the third and Ramses the fourth. The man also tells us that we must leave any cameras we have with him. I said that in the past you used to be able to take photos outside of the tombs and he said not any more. He said that he trusted me as long as I can my camera in my bag he wouldn't take it from me. Oh well I said to Bev - it's not just about the photos!

We walk up the incline towards the first Temple, although not hot by any standards at this time of year, we really begin to feel the heat. We go into Tauserts Temple which is really quite impressive. Peter does an explanation of the paintings. There is a sarcophagus at the bottom of the tomb. The Guardian of the tomb starts to make conversation with Peter. I ask what he wants and Peter tells him that he thinks that he knows him from somewhere. Shortly after he tells Peter that he can show us something special. He waits until the other tourists have left the tomb and then takes out a torch and shows us an inscription underneath the lid of the sarcophagus. I'm not quite sure what secret this was as we had already seen tourists coming in with their own torches and looking at this inscription. Anyway, with this we feel obliged to leave him a tip.


We go into the tomb of Ramses the third – I'm not able to do this tomb justice in my description but this link does a better job.


After this Louis and Bev go into Tutankhamen's tomb – you have to pay extra for this ticket and Peter and I have already seen it so we wait outside. The tomb itself in comparison to some of the others is not as outstanding in terms of its wall paintings and it is also quite small. I think any visit to Tutankhamen's tomb must also be done in partnership with a visit to the Cairo Museum to see the treasures that the tomb once held. This is the point at which you will become awe inspired. It is just incredible to imagine that such a small, unassuming tomb would have held such amazing treasures – but especially in such large volumes.



We then go into the tomb of Ramses fourth. The photo from the Flickr website was clearly taken by someone before the ban on camera's onto the site.


The heat has rather exhausted us so we go to get the little train back to Mahmoud. An old man selling statues of Bastet the cat god. He approaches us making miouowing sounds. The same children also come towards us but there is little energy left to humour anyone.

We make the short journey on the carts back to the car park where Mahmoud is waiting for us. We now leave the Valley of the Kings and make our way to Queen Hatchepsut's Temple. We don't have time to visit the temple but just wanted to show Lou and Bev what it looks like from the outside and maybe a quick photo opportunity. (By hook or by crook I will keep everything on schedule!)  Mahmoud parks the car and we get out to have a look. It isn't long before a man in a uniform comes over to us and tells us that we are not allowed to park there without paying. He tells us we are not allowed to take photos either. Things have really tightened up in the tourist spots and not necessarily for the better. We wonder if it is because over concerns of security. Peter is more cynical and says that it's more likely that after the police were humiliated during the revolution they feel they need to come back strong – it's a matter of pride!

We get back in the car and head away from the valley passing numerous alabaster factories on the way. We head back down to the Ramla - Peter has already phoned Osman to ask him to arrange a motorboat to take us back across to the east bank of the Nile. By now we are in need of refreshments so decide go to Ramla on the Beach again. Shortly after we arrive, Osman meets us again and comes to join us for a drink. When we arrive we see Hamada with a couple of tourists from our hotel - they use Hamada to drive them every time they come to Luxor. It's good to see that after introducing Hamada to Osman and Ramla on the Beach he is already bringing tourists back – that's how it works here!

We drink tea and Cola. Louis notices some of the birds that are flying across the Nile and names some of them – he used to be a Park Ranger so is familiar with wild life. Osman tells him he is very knowledgeable about birds. Earlier Louis had broken his sunglasses and the sun is very bright and asks if there is anywhere near to buy some new ones. Osman offers him his sunglasses and Louis declines the offer, but Osman insists. Louis puts on the glasses – these aren't cheap ones either. I must say that many Egyptians, or more specifically those that work in tourism come in for a lot of criticism about only thinking about money. We have been to Osman's cafe twice in the last two days and on neither occasion would he take money for our drinks. I think it's true to say that in general most tourists will experience the negative side of Egyptians working in tourism and have a real battle on their hands trying not to get ripped off. I'm sure that it's because of Peter that I have mainly experienced the kindness and generosity of Egyptians. There may be a business motive behind this on some occasions but Peter is well liked and trusted by people and this counts for a lot. 

A motorboat draws up on the edge of the Nile. As we walk closer we see that the driver of the boat is Abu Halawa. Osman takes the wooden plank from him and helps us onto the boat one by one. We wave our goodbyes to Hamada and shake hands with Osman and thank him for his hospitality. As we leave the west bank, Abu Halawa hands the rudder of the boat to Peter who steers us (under the direction of Abu Halawa back to the east bank. I remind Abu Halawa of the photograph that I took of Peter and him all those years ago and take one more for posterity. 



We arrive at the jetty and disembark the motor boat shaking hands with Abu Halawa. We climb the steps to the Corniche where Radwan is waiting for us in his carriage. I can't believe this excursion is going so well and to plan and still on time – especially after yesterdays fiasco. Peter introduces Lou and Bev to Radwan. Lou decides to take the seat up front with Radwan so I hand him the camera to capture the ride around the town. Radwan tells us that his wife had a baby girl – during our last trip he told us that he had recently got married and was expecting a baby so it was great to hear his news. We begin our drive around Luxor. We take a quick drive through the souk and then pass by Luxor Temple. Radwan drives us down the wide open roads around the back of Karnak Temple. This is a bit of a relief after the tight squeeze going through the souk.

Radwan is a qualified guide and furnishes us with interesting information about the temple. We stop at the recently excavated avenue of sphinxes where we take a couple of photographs of Lou and Bev. We then continue our journey to the entrance of Karnak Temple where we say goodbye to Radwan and his horse Sabrina.

We spend about an hour in Karnak Temple, we are lucky there are only one or two groups of tourists in there – lucky for us I mean as I know it is difficult for the people that are trying to make their living from tourism. Lou and Bev walk around the scarab three times – this is supposed to be good luck. This is only a whistlestop tour – you really need at least a full day in Karnak Temple to take in it's wonders .  

It's now about 4.00pm. We decide that we are now all more than ready for something to eat so make our way over to the terrace of the Aladdin Restaurant next to Karnak Temple. We are approached by a couple of souvenir sellers who have armfuls of pharaonic statues but after the experiences throughout the day nobody has the energy to put up resistance but we just continue walking. As we approach the restaurant Peter seems to have lagged behind. When we turn around we see that he has stopped to talk to the souvenir sellers. We stop and wait for him thinking that he will soon catch us up but he is clearly in deep conversation with them. We decide to leave him to it and go and find a table on the restaurant terrace – this provides us with some great views over the Nile.  

Mahmoud has now joined us again and is shortly followed by Peter who is carrying a number of objects – 4 pharaonic statues. He lays them out on the table and asks Lou and Bev to choose which one they want. They select one and Peter then asks them to choose another. I detest fake pharaonic statues so before Peter gets any ideas of bringing them home I push the remaining two statues towards Lou and Bev – we will already have problems juggling our luggage allowance on our return journeys but Lou and Bev are delighted with their gifts. 

We all enjoy and lovely meal of mixed grill, a range of salads and pizza's. I also enjoy my first beer since arriving in Egypt which went down better than I could have imagined!

I know Lou and Bev are a bit nervous about missing the checkpoint for their return journey after their experience the day before but Mahmoud assures us that they are OK for time. I say that we can make our way back to our hotel ourselves but it appears that Mahmoud came with a large package from Ehab in Safaga which we need to take back to Garagos – no problem after the efforts he went to to arrange Mahmoud for us.

Mahmoud drives us to the Sofitel where we say goodbye to Lou and Bev. After a quick freshening up in the room we make our way out into the hotel grounds to watch the sunset. We walk down to the edge of the Nile where we watch kingfishers hovering and swooping on their prey in the river. Sitting on a mooring rope of a dahbeya sits a cattle egret. Its white feathers flutter in the breeze as it sits vigilant and patient, waiting for a far more generous prey than what the kingfishers are willing to accept. 


The sun begins to set behind the Theban Mountains and its orange glow spreads itself across the Nile - West to East. It begins to get chilly and midges are now coming out in full force.  

We go back to the room, and have a bath and a cup of tea. What an exhausting day. Before we call it a night Peter makes a final call to check that Louis and Bev are safely back at their hotel – which they are. They've had a fantastic day and we're thrilled that we've been able to show them a bit more of Egypt than it's beautiful beaches. Hopefully we've given them an appetite for Egypt and they will come back again.

1st October 2011 - Farewell to Garagos

We sleep in late again today. My body clock is just beginning to adapt to the late nights and late starts – usually I’m an early person. We plan to return to Luxor later. Peter has arranged for Hamada to come and pick us up. It’s always difficult saying goodbye. We had hoped to visit Hagaza a nearby village that is famous for its beautiful wooden hand-crafts. We will leave this until our next trip.

Tahani has prepared breakfast for us. As we break into our freshly boiled eggs Tahani begins to talk to Peter about her concerns for Michael. I don’t want to talk about this family issue but Michael and their hopes for him getting married is always a topic of discussion for his mother or his father with Peter.

Ehab, Margreet and the twins arrive. I know Margreet loves having Ehab at home but I guess she feels that as soon as Ehab has arrived back in the village it very quickly time for him to return to work in Safaga.

Peter’s father comes back from the farm with a bunch of freshly pick Molokhia (Jews Mallow). Again this is something that I also find an acquired taste but here’s recipe in case you’re interested:


Peter’s father now continues the conversation about Michael – poor Michael – his ears must be burning! It’s an age old situation – parents with concerns over their children – whatever their age.

Sara and Susanna entertain us with some belly dancing. I video them and then download the video’s onto the netbook for them to watch – a game that could go on forever!

Sometime after midday day we get a call from Hamada that he is in Garagos but has got lost somewhere. Several phone calls later, Peter goes out to find where he is. The village is like a maze and it is easy to get disoriented. Mr Riad comes to say goodbye to us and sits and waits with us until Peter returns with Hamada.

As is the custom, Hamada is invited into the home to drink tea. As he enters Peter’s father greets him with “Alf Salam”. Hamada declines tea but accepts a glass of water.

Shortly after our bags are carried to the car and we say goodbye to Tahani and Alfons, Mr Riad, Ehab, Margreet and the twins. Other family members are in the street waiting to wave us off. We have to reverse back down the narrow street - just before Hamada arrived, a local man with a donkey and cart selling vegetables stops near the house to sell his wares. This street is only wide enough for one car so it requires some navigation and co-ordination to reverse without scraping against the wall of a building.

We wave goodbye and I can understand how difficult this is for Peter’s mother and father. They miss him terribly and I know they want him to stay in the village instead of returning to Luxor.

We drive out of the village and back along the canal that feeds water to the land. We see boys jumping from a bridge into the canal and I begin to think of the swimming pool that waits for us back at the hotel. As we draw nearer to Luxor Peter tells me that Hamada is going to take us straight to an alabaster factory on the Westbank – oh well – when in Egypt – just go with the flow!

We drive into Luxor and then back out on the Movenpick Road towards Awamia. Eventually we get to the bridge that takes us over the Nile onto the Westbank – much quieter and more agricultural than the East bank – but also full of amazing wonders.


We drive until we come across the amazing sight of the Colossi of Memnon. Unfortunately the photo I take is from a speeding car so not my best phot of the Colossi - well actually I only manage to get one of them from the back!


I remember being so in awe of this amazing the sight the first time I came to Egypt. The Colossi were built to guard the mortuary site of Amenhotep. Since I came past here last, more archaeological finds have been discovered by the Colossi. Bit by bit Egypt reveals more of its hidden secrets.

We drive past small pottery workshops. We arrive at the alabaster factory. Unfortunately we also arrive at the same time as a coach load of Russian tourists! Fortunately we aren’t herded in with the Russians – a man from the factory greets us and takes us over to three men who are sitting on the floor demonstrating various different stages of the process. This is all very well-rehearsed – like a sketch from a show – but more of this was in stores once inside!

We walk into a large showroom displaying a massive selection of pots, jars, tea sets, chess sets and of course pharaonic statues of all sizes. We had managed to get ahead of the Russians but now they stream into the room escorted by a number of the factory’s staff. They are welcomed to the showroom. I wasn’t paying much attention but a minute into the welcome speech the lights go off. I think my first instinct must have been that a power cut had happened as is quite usual, but then a chorus of Happy Birthday rises from the depths of darkness. As I turn around I notice that a section of the display is glowing a flourescent green – jars, vases and pharaonic figures all glowing in the dark. The Russians cheer and the lights are switched on again. The work 'Pantomime' springs to mind!

Peter, Hamada and I browse the shelves, I'm constantly shadowed by the man that welcomed us at the entrance. Alabaster is a beautiful stone and is shown at it's most beautiful when lit from within. The jars, pots and candle holders are stunning – pharaonic statuettes less so. Peter and Hamada speak to the gentleman that met us at the entrance. They talk about prices and shipping – I leave them to it.


The alabaster products are a reasonable priced but Hamada tells us later that guides will get 50% of any sales. During this brief visit I am given two alabaster ankh's and an alabaster scarab beetle - little tempters to encourage me to buy - but I think of the pottery we already have to carry home.  We leave the factory and the Russian tourists behind to return back to the East Bank. It's late afternoon and the light casts a warm glow over the Theban Mountains. We drive past Qurna, the deserted village resting on top of the ancient necropolis.

Quote from Wikipedia:

"Kurna (also Gourna, Gurna, Qurna, Qurnah or Qurneh) are various spelling for a group of three closely related villages (New Qurna, Qurna and Sheikh ‘Adb el-Qurna) located on the West Bank of the River Nile opposite the modern city of Luxor in Egypt near the Theban Hills.

New Qurna was designed and built in the late 1940s and early 1950s by Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy to house people living in Qurna which is now uninhabited. New Qurna was added to the 2010 World Monuments Watch List of Most Endangered Sites to bring attention to the site's importance to modern town planning and vernacular architecture due to the loss of much of the original form of the village since it was built.

The Villages

New Qurna (or New Gourna)

New Qurna was built between 1946 and 1952 by Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy midway between the Colossi of Memnon and el-Gezira on the Nile on the main road to the Theban Necropolis to house the residents of the Qurna. The design, which combined traditional materials and techniques with modern principles was never completed and much of the fabric of the village has since been lost; all what remains today of the original New Qurna is the mosque, market and a few houses. UNESCO World Heritage conservation wishes to safeguard this important architectural site. The World Monuments Fund included New Qurna in the 2010 World Monuments Watch List of Most Endangered Sites.

Qurna (or Old Gourna)

Qurna is an abandoned village about 100m to the east of the Temple of Seti I. Until the early 19th century the community included at least parts of the Temple of Seti I. Several travellers, including Richard Pococke or Sonnini de Manoncourt even name a Sheikh of Qurna. Edward William Lane relates in 1825 that the village was abandoned and not a single inhabitant lived there. Comments by Isabella Frances Romer suggests that the resettling started in the late 1840s. New Qurna was built in the 1940s and early 1950 to house the then residents who strongly resisted the move.

Sheikh ‘Adb el-Qurna

A series of housing built in and around the mountain grottoes located about 200m north of the Ramesseum at Sheikh ‘Adb el-Qurna. The stretch of land has been the bitter battlefield between the original owners and the Egyptian government for the last 60 years, because it lay on top of an archeologically area, part of the Tombs of the Nobles. Edward William Lane relates that the residents moved into these grottoes from the village of Qurna, which they abandoned, when the Mamluks retreated thought the area, following their defeat by Muhammad Alī's forces in the early 19th century.”







You will see the mention of the architect Hassan Fathy. You will read more about the links to Hassan Fathy and the Garagos Pottery on the 1001 Nights page in Posterous as our research and compilation of the story develops.

We drive past the sugar can fields and several banana plantations. We see the green footed lesser egrets paddle in the irrigation channels running through the green land. Again that familiar smell of smoke seeps in through the car window. I don't know why the burning of sugar cane stubble is so wonderful – well yes I do ­ it's one of the most evocative smells of Luxor.

We cross the sugar can train track and are now close to the edge of the West Bank of the Nile. We pass what were once brighty coloured houses and shops, now scarred with the patina of age and the desert dust. They line both sides of the street like a guard of honour, escorting us visitors away from this very special place.

Before long we are back at the hotel and now wash the Garagos dust from our hair (literally and figuratively). We are in time to watch the sunset over the Theban Hills from the balcony – I will never tire of this beautiful site.

We decide to eat in the hotel in Aladdins Restaurant outside in the hotel grounds. It's a nice warm evening we don't have to walk too far considering our near exhausted state. Unusually, we see that a sound system has been set up. We haven't seen any evening entertainment here in the hotel on this trip due to the lack of tourists. However, there appears to be a group of 'day' tourists and they are dining at the hotel before returning to the Hurghada this evening. We are told by the waiter that they had planned to put on a belly dancing show for the tourists but the belly dancers haven't arrived and are late. This is such a shame – the tourists finish their meal and head out to their coach without seeing the 'entertainment'.

We get a phone call. Tony is waiting outside the hotel for us. He is going to take us to the tourism company office where he still works and where Peter used to work. We are also going to pick up our bits and pieces that 'went missing' in the Sheraton in Cairo. We drink tea in the office with Tony and Mr Mourad the manager of the travel company – the three of them talk about old times and also about how hard tourism has been hit since the uprising.

Peter and I have decided to do a caleche trip around the city. Peter's friend Radwan is waiting for us on the Corniche. We say goodbye to Tony and Mr Mourad and walk out to meet Radwan. It's a delight to see him again – Peter has know him for a long time – the travel company always uses good, reputable caleche drivers who speak English. Radwan is a very polite young man, university educated and now tells us that since he saw us last he is now married and expecting their first baby. Congratulations are shouted in English and Arabic. Radwan is also a qualified guide. He tells us (as we've heard from everyone so far) how bad business is in Luxor and even though his wife is about to have a baby, he will be taking work in Hurghada so that he can support his family. Radwan says that it's difficult to get a handle on the real situation in Egypt. Information differs significantly depending on it's source – state tv, the internet, the grapevine. He says it's the information that people don't know that is most dangerous. Peter and Radwan continue to talk about the state of the country – I take in the familiar sights of Luxor by night.

I spot a couple of significant sights – we go past one of our favourite coffee shops Alfa Leyla we Leyla (One Thousand Nights and One Night) and then as we pass the Franciscan Church, the sign on the front of the church seems to say 1001. I like to think they are lucky signs for our little project!

Radwan drops us back at the Sonesta. We say goodbye and wish him all the best for the birth of his new baby. Before we go to bed we sit on the balcony and drink a glass of wine. Birds swoop across the Nile and over on the West Bank we hear a donkey bray and the soft chugging sound of a motor boat.

Peter and I talk about our visit to Garagos. It's only when away from the village that we appreciate how different the way of life is - not to the UK but to Luxor. The difference is also apparent between Luxor and Cairo – Egypt is indeed a country of many faces (and differing mentalities). Our visit is nearly at an end and there is a sense of sadness about leaving – for Peter his family and birth place and for me a country I have grown to love. Exhaustion takes over us.  I hope tomorrow is a lazy day.

29th September. To Garagos

I think we really benefited from an early(ish) night and wake up feeling refreshed.  After breakfast Peter bumps into an old friend of his Hamada, who he used to work with years ago.  Hamada works in one of the shops in the hotel.  I can see how they embrace that they are good friends and delighted to see each other.  We are invited to his shop to drink tea.  They reminisce about old times and talk about the terrible state of the country.  I become adept at putting the appropriate expression on my face depending on the tone of their voices.  With only basic knowledge of Arabic I could come a cropper if I don’t pay attention!  Another man enters the shop – yet another old friend of Peter’s.  They greet and then he tells Hamada that the ‘Big mother’ has phoned.  I ask who the big mother is.  I’m told that she is the mother of the owner of the hotel.  She phones every day to see who has turned up for work  - even though there is hardly any business.

We are to go to Garagos later that day.  Hamada offers to drive us.

We go back to the room and pack (yet again) – enough for a few days.  Hamada picks us up and we set off again through the rural landscape until we reach Garagos.  Being in a new air conditioned car people stop to look.  Everyone watches everything and they want to know who is entering their village.  Herds of scruffy goats scatter and children skid to a halt on their bikes.

We arrive at the house again – family from several houses come to greet us.  Peters father invites Hamada in to drink tea but he declines – he has to return to Luxor.

We settle in again.  It’s late afternoon and Peter, his father and I decide to walk down to the farmland before the sun sets.  The twins Sara and Susanna come with us.  We firstly call to see the waterbuffalo – a mother and her baby – well no longer a baby.  She was a baby when I saw her in December but is quite a size now.  The buffalo are kept in a mud brick walled area that is shaded by date palms.  On one corner of the space is an old fashioned water wheel that used to be driven by cows or buffalo.  Near the entrance  is a motor pump that draws water from underground – the source being the canals which are fed by the Nile. 

We then walk to another area surrounded by mud brick walls.  In here is a date palm, a banana tree and a mango tree.  Also growing is mint and basil – a slightly different basil to the type we have in the UK.  The Egyptian basil (rahan) grows into a bush – it’s more shrubby and the taste is different.  We did grow it in England from some seeds that Peter brought home but it didn’t survive the winter.

After this we follow the irrigation channel down to the farm land.  All the farmland in this area belongs to various members of Peter’s family and has belonged to them for as long as they can remember.  Through the generations the land is left to the children and some plots divided between them.  Not all of the land is together – it is spread out over the village.  Not all of the children want to remain in the village and work the land, so the responsibility is handed over to another member of the family.  I wonder how many of the younger generation will stay in the village in the future to work the land.  I know this is a passion for Peter’s father – he loves working on the land.  I don’t think this will be a passion for the next generation.

As we continue walking along the irrigation channel we come across Ebanob who is working the land.  He wields a large heavy hoe and strikes the earth with all his might.  Peter draws my attention to the hoe and before he speaks I think back to our garden and when Peter told me that we needed a strong tool to dig our heavy clay soil.  I knew the tool he was looking for so bought one from B&Q.  When I got it home and showed it to him he laughed.  Now looking at the size of the implement that Isaac is holding I can see why the B&Q hoe amused him. 

Zakir – the brother of Peter’s grandfather (but known as his grandfather not great uncle) is with a young boy Makarios who I remember from a previous visit.  They join us – everyone greets each other with a handshake.  Peter takes the hoe from Ebanob and begins to strike the earth.  He hasn’t laboured on the land since University so doesn’t keep it up for long. 

The sun is now setting.  A short distance away is a single story house that has just been built adjacent to the irrigated land.  The house has recently been built and belongs to Zakir’s son Stefanos and his wife Fikria.  So Stefanos is the cousin of Peter’s father.  We are invited to go to the house and drink tea. 

Mats made from woven date palms are laid out on the mud track that divides two plots of land, one growing sweetcorn and another green plant that is grown as animal feed.  More family members have joined us now – about 15 in total.  Everyone is seated on the mat.  Children play in the field, Sara and Susanna delight in tormenting a grey kitten.  When fed up of this they come and join the adults feeling equally comfortable with any of the uncles, aunts or cousins.  Whatever the differences are here between the roles of women and men, it doesn’t apply to playing with the children.  In fact when the men aren’t at work they are more likely to be making a fuss of the children.  Fikria brings out a tray of tea for everyone.  Sugar is generously spooned into the glasses – expressions of surprise when I don’t take any.  Everyone chats until the sky turns black – a deep dark black that is only seen in remote locations not polluted by artificial light.  It would be an unusual day if the night sky was clouded – the stars are bright and the crickets in the field are the loudest I’ve ever heard.  At one point a cricket flies out of the field onto my shoulder – I jump and scream which everyone finds hysterical.  I feel a bit of a fool but take some comfort when one of the other women sitting with Fikria also makes a fuss about the flying insects.

It’s so much cooler out in the fields.  The dry crinkled leaves on the sweetcorn rustle in the light breeze.  Apart from the crickets and the chatter of voices it’s silent.  It’s almost as though the fields absorb the sound of any external noises or a vacuum has surrounded us.  I defy anyone to sit where I’m sitting now and not feel a sense of peace – around them and inside.

Ehab now joins us – Sara and Susanna run to him.  I think the rest of the family are expecting us at his house.  We say thank you to our hosts and goodbye to family and head off back down the path, following again the irrigation channel and back out onto the street.  It’s only short walk around the corner to Ehabs house.  A lively scene greets us.  Everyone is sitting outside this large house that opens out onto yet another field – again it’s cooler out in the open that indoors.  Several of the men sit around a table playing dominoes.  Others and family members from neighbouring houses sit on one of four palm sofas chatting.  There is also a large stone mastaba covered in hand woven rugs.  We shake hands, embrace those we know, get kissed by female relatives I haven’t met before.  One of the ladies I haven’t met before is introduced to me as Sister Rita.  Sister Rita is a warm and engaging young lady.  Her English is excellent and she tells me that she is belongs to the Comboni Mission.     a Catholic mission named after Daniel Comboni who came to Egypt in 1857. 

Rita has recently been working in Kenya and Dubai and the following day was to leave for Ethiopia to continue her work.    I enjoy talking to Rita.  She asks me about our trip to Cairo and I tell her how the family tried to feed us so much food.  She laughs and says that there are two things that go hand in hand with Egyptians.  They love their food and they are very loud.

Ehab approaches us.  He says that he want to challenge Andre and Zakaria to a game of dominoes but he doesn’t know whether Peter is a reliable partner.  He says that Peter is out of practice at playing dominoes and he really wants to win the game.  I told Ehab that he couldn’t have any better partner than Peter and that he should put his faith in his brother in law – they will easily win.  Peter and Ehab join the rest of the men at the table and I continue chatting with Sister Rita.

Unfortunately she is called away to see to something and I expect that may be the last time I meet her.  I felt drawn to Rita and wanted to talk to her more and find out about the work that she does with the mission.  Hopefully another day.

Various members of the family come and go, some are new introductions, some people I already know.  Andre’s wife Marmar and her daughter Lola sit next to me on one side and Margreet sits on the other with Sara – Susanna still has bags of energy and is running from adult to adult.  Marmar who speaks a little English asks me if I remember the chicken that she cooked us last time we came to stay.  I did remember the chicken and the meal we had had.  Ehab gives me regular updates on the dominoes match – he and Peter are winning so far – the outcome will be decided on this last game.

A cheer goes up and Peter and Ehab have won the game of dominoes.  Ehab and Zakaria laugh in disbelief.  Ehab tells me that I was right and he should have had more faith in Peter in the first place.  Margreet goes into the house and brings out a tray of cold cans of beer which is received gratefully by everyone.

We chat and laugh a little further into the evening (Egyptians always seem to be laughing apart from when they are discussing politics or religion).  The laughing echoes up and around the houses that form an L shape around one corner of the green land. These large houses are 3 stories high ­– a floor is built as a flat for each of the sons of the family and their wives.  In this case both Margreet and Marmar live and work in the house together with the mother of Ehab.  I can’t imagine living in such close proximity to two other families.  Although the young wives have their own flats with kitchens, most cooking is done on the ground floor in the kitchen of the mother.  I’m sure that this semi communal living has its benefits but as for me I love my solitude, my downtime where I can please myself when I cook, when I clean and what I do. 

The children begin to fall asleep.  People begin to drift off, wishing “Tispah all kheir”.  We also say our goodbyes and Ehab walks us around to Peter’s father’s house.

They have arranged for us to stay in another room in the house with a balcony. Hopefully with a bit of ventilation and the ceiling fan the night will be a bit more comfortable.  Tispa alla kheir.

24th September 2011 - Arrival in Cairo

What a day!  It started at 4.30am – we had already packed for Cairo and now had one hour to get ready before Bob came to pick us up for the airport.  All done – at 5.30 Bob arrives and we make the 15 minute journey to the airport.  We say our goodbyes to Bob who will be leaving Luxor later this day to start his new business venture in Hurghada.  We wish him the very best. 

We check in – everything is on time and we board a rather packed plane to Cairo.  This is my fifth trip to Cairo and in the past have flown on rather spacious planes that usually had many empty seats.  Our original flight had been cancelled and changed to an hour later (which was better) but it seems that the luxury of flying on half empty planes is over.

After a short wait in the lounge we board the plane.  The safety instructionsare relayed in both Arabic and English and the plane takes off.  As the plane increases in altitude we can see the landscape below change immediately from the green irrigated land to the soft undulating sandstone terrain.  Dried up river beds snake along the valley floor and the repeating scene of the desert below feels hypnotic .  We follow the River Nile north towards Cairo.

It’s a nice short flight to Cairo – 1 hour.  We begin to feel a drop in altitude.  As I look out of the window the terrain below begins to change again.  Instead of the instant change from green irrigated land to desert, the view below goes immediately from desert to densely populated metropolis.  Tower blocks poke out through a thick layer of smog.  (always more visible in Cairo in the early morning when the temperature is a little lower).  It’s only once in Cairo that you realize the source of all the smog  – the traffic here is like nothing else on earth.  I remember the first time I came to Cairo on an organized trip – our tour guide told us “We don’t have rush hour in Cairo – we have rush day”.

Abdul is waiting for us as arranged.  It has been 3 and a bit years since we were in Cairo and the same since we saw Abdul.  Peter and I were in Cairo to get married – that’s another story!

As we drove from the airport to downtown Cairo, Abdul asked us if we noticed anything different.  Looking out of the car window at the broad tree-lined freeway everything seemed quite familiar.  As we drive through affluent Heliopolis we pass Baron Empain’s Hindu style Palace - it’s unusual architecture still looks out of place – but also perfectly at home.  http://curious-places.blogspot.com/2011/03/baron-empain-palace-cairo-egypt.html   

I couldn’t think what Abdul was referring to.

“No pictures of Mubarak!” says Peter.  That’s right, Mubarak’s face used to be on hoardings all along the airport road.  I wonder what other changes we will notice during our trip. 

 I can feel how much cooler it is in Cairo than Luxor – by cooler I mean 27 degrees instead of the 40 in Luxor.

We drive through Ramsis, Tahrir, over the Kasr e Nile bridge where the Egyptian revolution first began.  T shirts saying “Free Egypt” “I love Egypt” “25th January, Tahrir Square” line the roadside railings.  All seems peaceful now.

We arrive at the Sheraton and check in.  It will be 45 minutes before the room is ready so we decide to head straight out to our first appointment of the trip, to the Mamluk Glass Factory next to Qaitbay Mosque.  We were to phone Kamal before we set off which we did.  He wasn’t in the factory so we would pick him up on the way.  Off we set with Abdul.  The traffic in Cairo is notorious.  There is an order to the road system but also what appears to be absolute chaos – cars cutting across each other within centimetres to spare.  It can be quite a terrifying experience for first timers in Cairo.  At first the constant beeping of horns can be interpreted as a ‘telling off’ – much like we’d use car horns at home.  However, the horns are a subsystem – a language between drivers (and pedestrians) that interspersed with various hand gestures is completely understood here.

We pull off the freeway into a short dusty side street along Cairo’s Eastern Cemetery or City of the Dead.  (The cemeteries are yet another story for another day).  Peter phones Kamal and we meet him at the bottom of the street and then proceed onto the factory.

I think the word factory conjures up an up an image of a large industrial unit.  The Mamluk Glass Factory is a small enterprise but none the less a very productive one.  Kamal takes us in.  The walls are lined with shelves full of various glass products – not an inch of space goes unused. 

The factory is no longer than 10 metres and about 3 metres wide.  At the bottom is a furnace and one of the glass blowers at work.  However much I had been relishing the cooler temperatures of Cairo it all went to pot upon entering the factory – the heat from the furnace was incredible.  The worker had just two electric fans to keep the temperature bearable!  We watch with great interest at the skill deployed to produce a glass jar with a water spout with a twist of glass relief around its body.  I‘m invited by the craftsman to have a go at blowing some glass. I’m handed the metal tube that has a blob of molten glass on the end.  As I blow into the tube it is turned for me (it weighs a ton!) and a large glass balloon is produced.  Certainly nothing usable so it is knocked off the end of the tube to be melted back and used again.   By now my face felt like it had melted.  Any benefit of the cooler Cairo climate and Abdul’s air conditioned car was now truly lost!

Kamal invites us to drink tea outside.  Kamal tells us that this is the fifth generation of his family to have this factory.  A picture of his father blowing glass hangs over the factory entrance.  Kamal brings us a selection of books and magazines that have articles about the glass factory – one of only five in Cairo.  As we drink tea and look through the books I read an article that says Kamal is an engineer.  I point out this section of the article to him and he says he works as an engineer in the morning and comes to the factory in the afternoon.  He says it needs his generation to maintain the family tradition or the business and the skills will be lost forever.  All of his family work in the workshop – all also university educated.  The females in the family sort the glass and decorate the finished pieces and the men are involved in all other aspects of the business.  I ask Kamal where the glass comes from.  He tells us it comes from the Zabaleen.  Zabaleen translates directly as Garbage Collectors.  They are a large Christian community living in the foothills of Maqattam in Cairo.  They go out into the city collecting all manner of garbage which they bring back to their homes and sort by type, ready to sell to recycling companies.  Peter and I visited the church of St Samaan on a previous trip to Cairo and drove through the area where the Zabaleen live.  We can talk about this another time as this visit left quite an impact on us.  You can find out more information about this fascinating community through Google and also a very good (award winning) docu/film called Garbage Dreams.  http://www.garbagedreams.com/

A little later we are joined by Kamal’s father Hassan, a fine figure of a man with an imposing presence.  We shake hands and Mr Hassan offers us further drinks.  Someone goes to fetch coca cola. 

Peter talks about the Garagos pottery and how the business has been affected by lack of tourism.  Kamal tells us that since the uprising the government say that the glass factory isn’t in a suitable place for tourists to come.  He says this isn’t the case.  The area is safe and being one if Cairo’s oldest areas should be considered as a key tourist destination.  The Qaitbey Mosque itself is 700 years old.  They feel that the government don’t support local businesses such as this even though they are traditional trades in danger of being lost.

We have another look around at the products.  There is such a good range here and we tell Kamal that we would initially be interested in purchasing some hand blown Christmas decorations.  We don’t discuss price here.  It’s not the time or place.  We ask to purchase one of the glass hand painted Christmas decorations but Kamal will accept no money – we must take it as a gift.  .

We say our goodbyes and Abdul takes us back to the hotel to finish checking in and to freshen up. We are given a room on the 17th floor of the Sheraton.  We have amazing views over the city and the river Nile.  The island (Gezira) sits in the middle of the Nile.  Directly in front of us Cairo Tower located on Gezira seems like a stones throw away.  I can’t venture very far out onto the balcony before vertigo begins to set in.  But I can’t resist straining my body from the patio doors to look at the amazing view below and across Cairo.  The noise of the beeping is relentless but fades down to background noise after a period of adjustment.

We freshen up and go out to Abdul who is still waiting for us.  He is one of the taxi drivers for the Sheraton and business is bad so we know he will still be available for us.  We drive over onto the island and head over to leafy Zamalek.  This is home to some of the foreign embassy’s and also several private schools.  Zamalek is like a little oasis compared to the rest of the city and the wealth of it’s residents is quite apparent.  Tree lined streets and high walls provide privacy to large colonial style villas, a legacy of the French and British occupations.  http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/zamalek.htm

We head off first to a great bookshop called Diwan.  It’s a must visit shop when I’m in Cairo and have picked up a good selection of Naguib Mafhouz books and Yousef Chahine films.  We also search for a couple of the books that Kamal showed us earlier as one of them although in Arabic had a feature on the Garagos pottery.  We don’t find the books we want but staff suggest we try the Cairo University bookshop – which we do.  We find at least one of the books on our list so go away happy.  We then go in search of a gallery called Alef.  I came across this gallery on the internet before we left home and it sells a fantastic selection of handcrafted items – clearly to the wealthy residents on Zamalek!  I don’t have the address with me and after driving around for a while we decide to leave it for another day.

We invite Abdul to join us for ice cream at Groppi’s in downtown Cairo.  After Peter and I go married three and a half years ago in Cairo we went to celebrate in Groppi’s before leaving for Alexandria for our honeymoon.  Abdul was with us then.  He had been an absolute star in driving us everywhere we needed to go to get permissions from one ministry, official stamps from another.  Also driving us out to Heliopolis to get permissions from the office of theCoptic Catholic Patriarch. We hadn’t know at the time we needed this permission as we already had permissions from the priest in Garagos and the priest in Luxor – what a palaver that was!  It delayed the marriage (ceremony is the wrong word) for a day but we got there in the end with the help of Abdul.


 Here the three of us were - sitting in Groppi’s three and a half years later.  We all asked the question – where does time go?  We had ice cream and drank tea.  Abdul phoned his wife and son Mohammed and put them on to speak to us.  Again we agreed time goes by so quickly.  Abdul invites to his house for dinner.  It is my birthday today and we had planned to eat out in a nice restaurant downtown but it seemed rude to refuse.  We accepted the invitation an after trying a few more bookshops we set off to Abduls home the other side of Imbaba in Warak.

Imbaba had seen violent clashes between Muslims and Christians in May this year.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13325448 Imbaba and Warak are local neighbourhoods (as Peter describes it).  He means areas where tourists don’t usually venture.  I vaguely recollect this journey from last time we came to have dinner with Abdul and his family.  I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking photographs in this kind of area – it seems almost voyeuristic and I’m sure wouldn’t be well received by the local people.

We turn into some tight alleyways, go past small shops that sell items ranging from spare parts for cars to live poultry.  We arrive at Abdul’s flat and are greeted by his wife.  I remember her telling me that she is 'quite high up' in the Ministry of Agriculture.  This is apparent upon entering the flat which is clearly the home of Cairo’s middle classes.  Their sons Mohammed and Mahmoud aren’t at home – they are currently working but Mohammed phones and tells us he hopes to catch up with us before we leave Cairo.  We are invited to the dining table where plates upon plates of food are brought to the table.  A large plate of roasted duck, another of roasted chicken.  A large tourine of soup, a bowl of rice, a plate of bread, a dish of sliced,roasted potatoes in a tomato sauce.

I struggle to eat in the heat.  My appetite decreases when it’s hot and we’ve just been to Groppi’s for ice cream.  I am given a bowl of soup, a duck leg and a chicken breast.  Shortly after my plate is piled high with rice, potatoes and bread and yet more meat.  I have to keep insisting that I can’t eat any more but we make a good attempt at it.

We retire to the living room and fresh mangoes are brought in with tea.  Again discussions are had about the revolution and how the country is in a terrible state. (The conversation is in Arabic and Peter translates). Mahmoud has put in an application for a visa to America. The cost of living has increased and it’s no longer safe to walk the streets. It seems that it is everyone’s dream to leave Egypt and it’s current chaotic state.  After a while we make a move.  It’s 9.00pm and Abdul drives us back to the Sheraton.  As we go through Imbaba we see a fight outside one of the coffee shops and we also clearly see a man wielding a knife.  It’s a bit of a shock to see this first hand but this is now normal as there is no longer any significant police presence on the steets.

We arrive back at the hotel and ask Abdul to wait whilst Peter goes to fetch some small gifts we brought over for them – an England mug for the men and some Belgian chocolates for Mrs Abdul.  Small gifts but with so many family to buy for we have to prioritise.

I stay in the hotel room whilst Peter takes the gifts out to Abdul and also pay him for his driving services for the day.  When Peter comes back he has an odd look on his face.  I ask him what is wrong and he tells me he is a bit taken aback.  I ask him at what and he tells me his is shocked at the amount of money Abdul has charged for driving us for the day.  We know what the going rate is.  Peter has colleagues who arrange drivers for tourists through travel agencies and also friends who own tourists cars.  A days hire for a car in Cairo is about 150le.  We had had Abdul for around 12 hours so counted that as 2 days so expected him to charge around 300le.  He had asked Peter for 600le.  Peter had paid it but he felt that Abdul had taken advantage of us.  We had used Abdul on 2 previous trips to Cairo and money had never been a problem. – his prices had always been fair. After a bit of deliberation we decided to use Abdul the following day but to see what his costs would be.

We sit inside the suite with the balcony door open.  It’s 10.00pm and Cairo hasn’t even begun to come alive yet.  The traffic is still incessant (and the beeping of the cars) and there is a hive of activity along the water front.  Café’s are heaving and steams of people stand along the railings on the bridges that cross the Nile.  Tourist boats sail up and down and the next shift of street sellers pedal their wares.  I read in the in-flight magazine with Egyptair that Cairo is ranked number 3 in the world in the table of 24 hour cities!  I’m exhausted! 



23rd September 2011 - A relaxing day in Luxor

Well it’s now Friday morning.  It’s 7.30am and I’m sitting on the hotel balcony overlooking the view that never fails to take my breath away. 

I think today will be a relaxing day.  I’ll sit by the pool, take some photo’s or video’s and maybe pen a bit more for the blog.  Peter is going to Egyptair and also to the Vodafone shop to buy a wireless dongle to save us making the trip to Snack Time to upload the blog.  Later we’ll pack for Cairo.

22nd September 2011 - A busy day in Luxor

So yesterdays plans are moved over to today.  After a lovely breakfast in the hotel, Peter goes to do some errands – he was also going to pick up my Chinese parasol from the flat in Luxor – I'm not great in the heat and it's hot hot hot!  I stay within the confines of the hotel.  The temperature is more than I can bare and the swimming pool is calling me.  For now I’m sitting in the shade of the restaurant terrace trying to update the blog – a summary of our visit so far.  This blogging is really hard work – I wish writing would come to me more easily.  I think when I get back home I’m going to invest in some voice recognition software as this may be a little better.  Besides, as a touch typist I’m finding working a netbook an absolute nightmare!

It doesn’t take long before the battery on the netbook dies.  It’s also way too hot for me even in the shade of the terrace so I take refuge back in the hotel room under the air conditioning.  

Peter and I had planned to go to Snack Time at lunch time as they serve a nice Panini and provide free wifi.  I would usually forget all of the usual day to day trappings of technology whilst away from home but I wanted to upload some of the blog as it was written. 

I tried to phone Peter from the hotel but couldn’t get a signal.  I decided to start walking with the hope that I would pick up a signal along the way.  What started out as a short trip to Snack Time ended as something else.  As I ventured forth out of the hotel I was faced with the onslaught of “Tax Tax” “Caleche Caleche” (the taxi and horse and carriage drivers).  Whereas before a short dismissive hand wave would easily impress upon them that I wasn’t interested – this didn’t seem to be working now.   The carriage drivers were particularly persistent, one following me down the street and eventually making quite offensive comments.  I have never experienced this in Luxor before – the direct offensiveness that is.  I’m told later that the drop in police presence has been a green light to some carriage drivers (and felucca men) to behave as they wish.    I understand the desperation for business but being offensive to tourists isn’t going to help increase trade!

My god I had forgotten how hard that walk is in the midday heat!  By the time I get to Luxor Temple I was dying of thirst and the heat was getting to me.  I sought refuge in the shade of a tree at Hamees café.  I ordered a water and checked for a signal on my phone again.  No signal, but I also remembered that I didn’t have any money with me either.  I asked one of the staff if they had a phone I could borrow.  I was told that if it was to an Egyptian phone – yes, if it was to an English phone – no.  Well Peter’s phone is English. What a dilemma.  Peter doesn’t know where I am and I can’t contact him and I can’t pay for the water.  I checked my phone for a signal again – nothing.  I checked my phone for any Egyptian phone numbers and had one called Peter Garagos – I thought this may be an old phone of his mother’s so was prepared to ask for any willing translators to help explain my dilemma and to ask them to phone Peter.  Luckily Peter answered!  He was on his way.

We made it to Snack Time.  Nice and air conditioned, free wifi and a nice view of Luxor Temple and the Theban Mountains.  4 hours and a stream of snacks later we left the café – first blog uploaded and friends invited to Facebook. 


We decided to take a stroll through the Souk and call  in and see a couple of friends.  Firstly to one of my favourite shops – Aladdins Cave –and Aladdins Cave it truly is.  This is one of several shops owned by the Uncle of Bob's Uncle, Badir.  He has had this shop in his family for several generations.  The shop houses a truly eclectic mix of copperware, mother of pearl pieces such as chess boards, jewellery boxes and mirrors.  It has a selection of Pharaonic style pieces, a wide range of rugs at a price to suit every pocket and best of all piles of antique pieces such as old copper coffee pots – I have bought 2 of these on previous visits. Badir gives us an update on the attack on the Saudi Arabian Embassy.  Some Egyptians had recently travelled to Mecca for the Haaj.  They returned saying that they had been treated badly by the Saudi Arabians, luggage being lost, they had been kept in areas that weren’t nice. (I’m trying to repeat this verbatim).  Once back in Cairo they decided to show their dissatisfaction at the way they had been treated by attacking the Saudi Arabian Embassy.  He tells us that a volcano has erupted since the revolution – now everyone protests about everything!

After drinking tea and talking about how bad the business is in Luxor we say our goodbyes and walk further down the corridor of the Souk.



A couple of minutes later we come across another old friend Yousef.  Again we are invited into the back of his shop to drink tea.  Peter has known Yousef for many years – like Peter a science teacher but also with several shops selling cotton products.  He works in the morning at the school and comes to the shop in the Souk in the afternoon.

Now if ever there was an engaging story teller – Yousef is the man.  He sits cross legged on the floor in front of us and begins to tell us of his concerns for his country and particularly for the Coptic Christians who apparently are leaving the country in droves since the revolution began.  He tells us that 300,000 have left the country so far through fear of continuing persecution.  I suspect this number is greatly exaggerated but get the sense that this is what he truly believes.  He tells us that Luxor has become lawless – no police, no army but most Egyptians he knows are carrying guns.  Politics and religion was discussed for some time.  Yousef portrayed a sense of hopelessness for the country.  Peter and I managed to steer the conversation away to less contentious subjects.  Among these topics were parapsychology, undiscovered pharaonic treasures, Yousef’s  idea to import English chocolate into Egypt and solar energy.  I would struggle to capture even the essence of the conversation we had with Yousef.  He said himself that people would either consider him very intelligent – or crazy.  I would suggest both – not one or the other.  He harbours a strong belief in a number of conspiracy theories, but however incredulous they may sound – we may go back in years to come and tell Yousef – he was right!  Another hour and half had gone by.  We said our goodbyes and said we would see him the following week. 

We decided to go to Egyptair to see if we could change our return flight from Cairo to an earlier one.  On our way there we came across Bob outside his jewellery shop.  Bob invited us into the shop, introduced me to his father and offered us a drink – we asked for and received coca cola.  Peter and Bob talked about computers and mobile phones.  Bob had bought a top of the range laptop in Cairo for a very good price and shared the number of the shop with Peter.  Peter isn't currently interested in buying a new laptop but I think the conversation was more about sharing contacts, building the network on which all Egyptians exist.  

 One of the children from the family came in with a piece of freshly baked bread from the church, which was shared amongst us.  Bob invited Peter and I to go to a new coffee shop in Karnak which we did.  Before we left Bob’s father presented me with a beautiful pair of silver earrings with turquoise stones and Peter with a silver ankh and chain.  We were quite overwhelmed by this generosity.  Bob’s father said it was a gift to first a first time visitor to his shop, though we suspect that not all first time visitors are treated so generously.

Bob drove us to the coffee shop.  We drank mint tea, Bob smoked shisha.  Bob tells us that business in the shop in Luxor is so bad he has rented a shop in Hurghada that will sell leather goods.  He will leave Luxor on Saturday morning after dropping us the airport for our Cairo trip.  The rental on hotel shops is very expensive and nothing is guaranteed but he feels he needs to take the chance. 

Before we knew it, it was midnight and time to go back to the hotel.  Maybe we’ll get to Egyptair tomorrow?

21st September 2011 - Garagos

Today more people come to say hello. Conversations drift towards the uprising.  Many feel despondent and feel the country has no leadership and is becoming more and more lawless.  “Egyptians don’t know what freedom is – they see it as an excuse for bad behaviour and taking the law into their own hands”.

Peter’s mother and sister Margreet are preparing a special meal for us – one of their chickens and a variety of vegetables from the land. Sara and Susanna are a delight and entertain us with the usual antics of two and a half year olds.  

Throughout the day several members of the family come to us to express their concern about us going to Cairo at the weekend.  We had planned our trip to avoid being there on Friday when most protests take place. The week before we left for Luxor protestors had tried to tear down the security wall of the Israeli Embassy, resulting in the Israeli Ambassador leaving the country. We also heard this morning on one of the Egyptian news channels that there had been an attack on the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Cairo. However, we have a carefully planned trip and will travel by taxi instead of the metro.  We have made arrangements for Abdul to pick us up from the airport and be our driver throughout our visit.  Abdul was born and bred in Cairo, is an ex policeman and someone who knows the City like the back of his hand (or as much as anyone can).  We had spoken to Abdul and his son Mohamed before leaving the UK and they told us everything is OK in Cairo - the odd protest but these can be avoided if you have your bearings right. Despite our reassurances, little can be said to put Peter's family's minds at rest - I just hope they don't catch today's news.

We return to the hotel later that evening.  I had intentions to write some more on the blog but was too exhausted.  It will have to wait until tomorrow.

20th September 2011 - Relaxing day and then to Garagos

It’s Tuesday and we start the morning with a fantastic breakfast. We both start with a glass of kirkaday (hibiscus juice). Peter has meat, cheese and salad with a good helping of Egyptian fuul – fava beans flavoured with cumin, lemon juice and tomato puree. I have melon and pomegranate seeds followed by an omelette and tameya (falaffal) with tahini. This is all washed down by copious amounts of tea!

We spend the day by the pool – well I did. Peter was busy doing errands and going to the bank. However, Peter can't usually walk very far in Luxor without being greeting by friends, family, acquaintances. I know when he says he'll be an hour he'll be several.

Anyway, it’s nice to spend a bit of time shaking off work and trying to acclimatise to the heat. It’s 38 degrees today – way too hot for my liking. I lay under the shade of a parasol and swim in the pool to keep refreshed. Every one sitting by the pool is able to get a lounger in the immediate area – nobody has to locate themselves further down on the pontoon. Nobody has to queue for a drink at the pool bar. The pool staff are very attentive, ensuring that those of us who don’t want to be in the sun are protected by the parasol at all times. The numbers are clearly low in the hotel – and if it’s low here it will be low everywhere in Luxor. This is very sad to see.

Later that evening Peter’s father comes for us with Andre – the brother of Ehab (Peter’s brother in law) to take us to Garagos. We have packed enough for a few days and our hand luggage bags are filled with colouring books and bottles of whiskey – the latter always welcomed and shared generously at family get togethers.

We head out of Luxor along the dusty airport road which is lined with flowering hedges of bourganvillea and jasmine. Peter’s father and Andre give updates on events in the village. We turn off the airport road and start following a road that takes us North of Luxor. We cross several small branches of the Nile which are encased in rows of date palms – many of them have self- seeded in the shallow edges of the canals themselves. Every so often we’ll hear the ‘phutting’ of mechanical water pumps, forcing water from the canals into the irrigation channels that are etched like veins across the agricultural land. The further we get out of Luxor, the narrower the road gets. Egyptian drivers whether in rural backwaters of upper Egypt or the metropolis that is Cairo have a ‘need to speed’. Andre slows down only to skirt around a pot hole or negotiate passing another car or the occasional dok dok (a cross between a scooter and a Reliant Robin).

We pass mud brick houses, very simple dwellings. People of all ages sit clustered together in the shade. Some straight on the bare earth outside – some sit on the traditional palm seating which often doubles up as a bed. On some nights it’s far more comfortable to sleep outside. Washing hangs from rope washing lines strung between date palms and dogs bark in the distance.

After crossing the train track we arrive in Garagos. As we drive into the village we pass rows of local shops – small shacks providing a range of essential items and services. Although only 25km from Luxor many of the villagers haven’t travelled outside of Garagos – especially the women. Local produce is grown on the extensive farm land in and surrounding the village and most families will keep livestock such as chickens. We approached the family home down a network of tight alleyways. The road once ashfelt is now encrusted in years worth of dust and resembles a dirt track rather than a modern road.

As soon as we arrive at the house we are deluged with a huge wave of family members coming to the house to say hello. Huge smiles, beautiful and handsome faces with warm, welcoming handshakes (four kisses from closer family members). I never fail to be taken by the way children come to the house and shake the hand of everyone like little grown ups. The mother of Nasira brought 2 dozen eggs – I’m told it’s traditional to bring gifts like this for visitors who have travelled from afar. Peter tells me afterwards that the mother of Nasira is very old – she had walked from her house with the eggs but couldn’t make it up the step into the house. The lady is referred to as the Mother of Nasira as a mark of respect – Nasira being the name of her eldest son. I’m not sure at what point a woman is no longer referred to her by her name – I’ll ask Peter later.

Soon after we arrive Margreet arrives with the 2 year old twins Sara and Susanna. They have grown so much in 9 months. It isn’t long before we are asked if we are hungry. Peter’s mother has been preparing a meal for us and regardless of whether we are hungry or not we must accept the offer of hospitality and eat.

Although a large house with good ventilation, it isn’t long before the heat exaggerates my existing exhaustion. We are given a room on the first floor and after a shower we retire for the night. The heat of the night was tortuous. The ceiling fan seemed to recirculate hot air and cockerels across the village seemed to have no concept of night or day. Time was marked at 4.30am by the voice of the muezzin calling to prayer from the minaret in the mosque less than 20 yards away. I think of the air conditioning in our hotel room.

I love being back in Garagos. Nonetheless we may need to schedule our visits in winter when the evenings are cooler.

19th September 2011 - Arrival in Luxor

Peter and I travelled to Egypt on Monday 19th September. We flew from Manchester Airport where we arrive at 6.00am with 2 suitcases crammed with presents for the immediate family members and the children – including 12 colouring book packs. These have probably ended up being the most expensive colouring books ever thanks to Monarch’s very strict luggage weight rules. Between us we were 6 kilos overweight and the very ‘surly’ check in assistant charged us £120 – no negotiation! Not a great start to the holiday but I can safely say this is the first and the last time I fly with Monarch!

A very busy itinerary is planned with 4 days in Cairo and of course time with the family in Luxor, Garagos and Cairo. If possible we will also try and squeeze in a day or two by the pool!

As we arrive in the airport terminal in Luxor we are greeted by various airport staff and tour reps in the hall – colleagues that Peter knows from his previous job as a tour rep. Peter’s good friend Bob has arranged for one of his cars to pick us up from the airport. Before we exit the airport we pay a visit to the duty free shop - whisky is always a welcome gift! We make our way out of the airport terminal to the car park, trying to resist the offers from porters to carry our bags - eventually one takes our trolley and pushes it for the remaining ten yards to the car.

The first thing we noticed upon arriving in Luxor is how quiet the place is. Michael who is an accountant at the hotel where we stay tells us that the hotel is currently at 15% occupancy rate – eighty guests where full capacity is six hundred. The uprising has affected tourism dramatically. We are told us how difficult things are for all businesses here as Luxor is very reliant on tourism. Many of the hotel staff have been given reduced hours working half a month on and half a month off. Although the high level of customer service at this hotel is what brings us back each time, upon arrival we can already see how standards have definitely been cranked up a notch. We are thinking about how we can allocate tips fairly!

It’s so good to be back. We have a lovely Nile view room with Jacuzzi bath. A basket of fruit awaits us on the coffee table.

The moment I look forward to more than anything is opening the balcony doors to a most magnificent view. A view that really defies adequate description and a view that my description could never do justice to.

The River Nile flows slowly northwards - from where I'm standing that's left to right. The odd boat passes by and green footed egrets paddle along the shallow edge of the river. Opposite, on the West bank of the Nile, water buffalo and the odd camel graze the green land. I can just about make out several galabeyaed workers hoeing the land and tending the animals. The magnificent backdrop to this scene is the Theban mountains, standing proud with a frill of date palms and banana trees at its feet. It's not a particularly huge range of mountains but what is housed within those unassuming hills still makes me shake my head in disbelief.

Most famous is The Valley of the Kings, home to the tomb of Tutankhamun and great pharaohs like Ramses the third. Also within the mountains is the Valley of the Queens and the Valley of the Nobles. From my balcony I can make out the remains of Old Qurna village and the exposed entrances to a row of tombs located in the Valley of the Nobles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurna


If you ever get the chance to sail down the Nile on a cruiser or a felucca, you won’t have to imagine too hard what it would have been like in pharaonic times – the landscape has hardly changed. You will see clusters of mud brick houses along the banks of the Nile. Some painted in traditional Nubian colours of turquoise blue but over the years have accumulated layers of desert dust.

Also from the balcony I’m hit by a familiar smell – smell of burning fires. On most evenings you will see smoke rising from small fires on the agricultural West Bank. I think farmers could be burning stubble from recently harvested sugar cane – but can’t be sure. There’s also another smell – a smell that resonates from the heat rising from the land. I can’t describe this smell. All I know is if it could be captured in a bottle, it would be that smell and that smell alone that takes me back to Luxor and this view across the Nile.

The sun begins to set behind the mountains. As the red sky turns indigo blue, the only sound remaining is the faint engine of a boat crossing the Nile and the echo of birds ‘whooping’ as they soar across the Valley. The Theban Mountains are now illuminated. I try to imagine what adventures will befall us during this visit and how quickly two weeks will disappear.

Until tomorrow.