A Year of Weather in a Week

Before I arrived in Egypt, I checked out the weather in Cairo online. It looked like it would be a nice, warm set of summer days. Highs in the 80’s, nights in the 60’s, everyone happy.

When I arrived, the first day was indeed perfect. The next few days it was cloudy and I could smell rain. No one else could though. As a waiter told me, it rained so rarely, like only 3 times a year, he didn’t know what rain smelled like. Even though I could smell the rain, it didn’t rain in Cairo, yet.

It did sandstorm though. A wonderfully dusty experience where I had this painful observation:

While the sand was collecting in every nook and cranny of my existence, I was reminded of another desert I tried to hold back: the Gobi. I didn’t succeed there either.

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Cairo Taxi Traffic Turnarounds

Did you think the Skopje taxi ride tame? That driving in the developing world was easy, and you are skilled enough to master the lack of lanes, stoplights, and road rules of any obvious nature?

Then let me introduce you to the joys of a Cairo taxi ride! This would be a moment of excitement in a thrilling cross-town jaunt I had this morning on my way to gaze at pyramids on the Giza Plateau:

Note how pedestrians randomly cross the road as they see fit, regardless of cars or common sense. You should watch them jump off a moving bus, into traffic, and then dodge speeding taxis to the other side of the road. Not even my obsessive/compulsive jaywalking across DC can compare.

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Gazing at Pyramids on Giza Plateau

The Great Pyramids are human scale. That’s the first thing I noticed as the taxi drove along the Giza Plateau. The three Great Pyramids of Giza, Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, while majestic and impressive, are still man-sized when you are up close and personal with them.

Now that doesn’t mean they are small, or the size of a man. Hell no! They are magnificent in their ancient grandeur and grand proportions. But when you are close, each stone block, all 2.5 tones, still look like they can be moved with enough time, will, and people.

If you’ve seen the Great Wall of China, or visited Machu Picchu you’ll know what I mean. While big blocks of stone may impress us today, when we cannot imagine moving them without machinery, back in the day, they moved mountains, literally, one rock at a time.

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Thank You, Rafik Hariri

Rafik Baha ad-Din Hariri was a self-made billionaire and business tycoon, and twice the Prime Minister of Lebanon. As Prime Minister, he not only rebuilt the city, even using his own funds, he rebuilt the pride of the Middle East by showing that a Sunni Muslim could be Western, wealthy, and inclusive of all religions in political leadership.

Sadly, in 2005 he was assassinated in a massive car bomb attack in downtown Beirut. The public outcry after his death at the assumed guilt of Syria, lead to the Cedar Revolution withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after a 30 years of occupation.

Because of this, Hariri is a hero to the people of Lebanon, revered almost as a founding father of the country, and his image is everywhere. During on Beirut part night, I was given a Hariri pin to wear on my coat lapel, and I’ve worn it since with great pride.

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Banking Home a Half-Million Dollar Mortgage

There is an interesting alternate reality to your every day financial life. In this separate dimension, strange voices on telephones promise to send you a blank check. Blank but for the amount, there it says $500,000.

Five hundred thousand dollars.

Have you ever seen that much money? Have you ever held a check for it? I have not, not yet anyway, of those voices on the telephone wait for me to find something to spend it on before they will send me the check.

And not just anything, but a house, a home, a domicile to call my very own. And those voices, whispering in my ears from many sides tell me I should do it. I should take that blank check and buy a home.

Maybe buy a dream home in the Petworth neighbourhood of Washington DC. And a dream it is, perfect for a settled life of domestic bliss. See the video for yourself of what $500,000 buys in my housing market.

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