Homer's Travels: 2022

Saturday, December 31, 2022

A Homer's Travels Look Back At 2022

2022 … This was a year of ups and downs. The Wife retired (Yay!) and I didn't finish the Appalachian Trail (AT) (Boo!). We left the country for our longest trip to date and it was amazing! It was a good year, not a great year, but a good enough year if you ignore the pandemic of stupidity that still simmers in our nation (though the results of the midterm elections shows some glimmer of hope) .
Let's look back at 2022, shall we:

  • I posted 127 times this year.  This is the most I've posted since 2017 and twice as many as last year.  I think adding the Weekly Ephemera posts got me writing more, not to mention the AT interruptus and the Fall travels giving me a lot of inspiration as well.  Now I just have to keep it up or maybe even write more next year.
What will 2023 bring?  We have a few trips in the planning stages - a domestic roadtrip, an Asian adventure, and a hike along the Camino de Santiago.  Some friends will be visiting in the Spring to see the sandhill crane migration. I'm sure more things will pop up along the way. The key to 2023, and most other years frankly, is to be flexible and accept what comes your way.

Here's to a Happy, Prosperous, and Healthy New Year for all.  May all your dreams come true in 2023.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Book: M. R. Carey's "The Boy On The Bridge"

The last book of 2022 was the sequel to 'The Girl With All the Gifts" which I read back in December 2015.  M.R. Carey's "The Boy on the Bridge" follows a group of scientists and soldiers trying to find a cure for the fungal infection that turns people into mindless 'hungries' (i.e. zombies).

I came close to giving "The Girl With All the Gifts" five stars.  This second book was not as good, mainly because it lacked the originality of the first - the curse of being a sequel.  It was not as good but it was okay.  The main character, an autistic boy savant, irritated me which brought the whole story down for me.

While it had its faults, it wasn't bad, so I gave it four stars out of five on Goodreads.  The ending was interesting and full of hope which we all need these days.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #40

We will be busy on Christmas day so I'm posting the Weekly Ephemera post a day early.
  • The weather turned cold this week as we rang in the winter season.  The forecast of cold temperatures was pretty much spot on.

    The forecast for snow was a bit off.  I'm not sure how much we actually got since when I looked out at the snow it was falling sideways.  Sideways falling snow, blown by blizzard winds, is a bit unpredictable and hard to measure.  I can say we had just over an inch on the sidewalks.  I'd picked up the neighbor's snow blower a few days before the snow and I decided to use it despite there being so little snow.  This made it a little faster which was good as it was -11℉ (-24℃) and windy and I wanted to finish as soon as I could so I could go back inside for a hot shower.
  • Despite the very hard wind we had, only one ball fell out of the oak tree.  Of course, more may have blown off and simply went down the street.  It's hard to keep track of them sometimes.
  • I walked twice this week for a total of 17 miles (27.4 km).  It was cold on my second walk and there was a thin sheet of ice on the sidewalks.  I walked a lot on the grass so I wouldn't fall on my butt.  I hope to get in a few more walks before the new year.
  • On Christmas Eve the Wife and I went over to Mom's for food and presents with her and her step son's families.  We will be spending Christmas day at Mom's  for more food.
I hope you all are having a great Christmas weekend surrounded by family and friends.

Friday, December 23, 2022

2022 Fall Travels, Part Four - Ethiopia - The Karo, The Hamer, The Dassanech, And The Mursi Tribes

A man of the Karo tribe.
The Buska Lodge was … interesting.  The huts were similar to the Paradise Lodge's bungalows but they were definitely more primitive.  There were two single beds opposite of each other.  The one thing missing here was electricity.  Power was only available for a few hours in the morning and a few hours at night.  After 11:00PM it was lights out.  It was also warmer in southern Ethiopia and we kept cool in our huts with floor fans.  Unfortunately no electricity = no fans.  So when you woke up in the middle of the night it was hot and a bit sweaty.  Fortunately we were out and about most of the day, the food was good, and there was beer for the Wife.

Over the next three days we visited four tribes.  The first was the Karo.  Their village was on a highlands overlooking the Omo River.  Our guide lined up the women and then the men so we could take pictures (another awkward moment for me).  They demonstrated their face painting art.  As we left we passed a raucous group dividing up the grain harvest.

The next was the Dassanech tribe.  We visited their village of domed homes that are made of wood and mud but are more commonly built with tin now.  We saw the differences between the tribes and how their customs vary.  I purchased a handmade crocodile tooth necklace here.

Karo women distributing the harvest.

Whip scars proving
their devotion.
The third was the Hamer tribe.  This one  was very interesting but a bit disturbing.  First, when a couple marries the woman is kept in a hut for three months never venturing outside.  Food and drink are brought to her during this period and she does not have to work for her tribe.  With encouragement from our guide, and permission from the tribal elder, she was brought out where we could see her.  She did not look happy or comfortable at all as we took pictures.  It was like a reluctant sideshow act and the Wife and I felt this was very wrong.  Also disturbing was the custom of some young women to allow themselves to be whipped to prove their devotion to their families.

At the Hamer village I learned my name in their language was "Hello Photo".

A Hamer girl.
We ended up at the Eco-Omo Safari Lodge which was a step above the Buska Lodge (but not even close to the Paradise Lodge).  We could have slept in tents but they put us in newer lodge rooms which was probably for the better.

The last tribe visited was the Mursi.  The Mursi women wear the plates in their lower lips and large disks in their earlobes.  It is believed they started doing this to make themselves ugly and undesirable to slave traders.  We learned how the clay disks are made, how the lower lip is cut and stretched, and how the bottom front four teeth are knocked out so the disk fits.  The Wife left the village with twelve of the lip disks.

A Mursi woman with her lip plate.
We returned to Addis Ababa the next day.  We spent the last day  visiting the places that we couldn't visit way back on our first day.  We drove up to Mount Entoto to take in the sweeping view of Addis Ababa.  We then visited the National Museum.  Here we saw art and history including the bones of Lucy (replicas actually ... they are too precious to have the real ones out in public).  The newly renovated wing of the museum is very well done.

In the afternoon we visited an awesome store for some last minute shopping.  We ended up with a lot of treasures this trip, many from Ethiopia.  Our only rule is that we have to be able to carry them.  I will write about them in a future post.

Artwork at the National Museum.
In the evening we had a goodbye dinner at a traditional restaurant that offered live local music on stage. The food was a bit too traditional (i.e. spicy hot) for my taste but they did add some less spicy options that were to my liking.

Ethiopia was an unexpected place for me.  I'd come here with zero expectations and was surprised every day by the things I saw and experienced.

Our adventure was over.  I never really felt like I was ready to come home until the last week.  I think it is not the length of time you travel that makes you homesick but the shortening of the time left at the end that ignites those feelings.

I still have a few more 2022 Fall Travels posts in me but they will have to wait until the new year.

Pictures can be found in my Ethiopia 2022-10 Google Photos album.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Book: Martha Wells' "Rogue Protocol"

The third installment of the Murderbot Diaries was my next read.  Martha Wells' "Rogue Protocol" like the other two books I've read from the series is a fun read whose only fault, really, is that it is too short.

This novella continues where the last ended with our rogue security unit doing good, killing bad guys, and trying to find peace and quiet to watch his media.  Peace is often elusive.  Instead he finds himself always defending the underdogs.

I gave this novella four stars out of five on Goodreads.  I don't consider the Murderbot Diaries great but they are good.  Good enough that I'm looking forward to reading the remaining two novellas and the full length novel.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The Cold Arrival Of Winter

Today is the winter solstice and, as of the time of this post, astronomical winter has arrived.  It is arriving here with a bang this year with temperatures dropping rapidly after its arrival.  The forecast high temperature for Thursday and Friday is around -3℉ (-19℃).  The low temperature for those days is around -10℉ (-23℃).  There is a chance for snow.

Oh, and did I mention the wind?  Wind chills are forecast to be between -35℉ and -40℉ (-37℃ and -40℃).



Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Book: Rana Foroohar's "Homecoming: The Path To Prosperity In A Post-Global World"

I'm a little behind in my reading reviews.  I'll try to catch up this week. 

My latest non-fiction read was Rana Foroohar's "Homecoming".  The book is basically calling the end of globalization and suggesting it will be replaced by regionalism, diversified sourcing, and shortening the supply chain in general.

I have been positive on globalization for a while but I do have my doubts.  I think the almighty dollar has gotten in the way of pragmatism and long term planning.  Do I think globalization is dead?  No.  Do I think it is being replaced by regionalism?  No.  I think we will eventually settle on a hybrid between the two.  So, I do disagree a little bit with Foroohar but the differences between her and my positions are minor.

The book is written well enough.  It was a slow read for me but I think it was more the subject matter than the writing style.  Foroohar uses many examples.  Some I could relate to.  Others I couldn't.

I almost gave this book four stars but, while writing this review, I changed my rating to three stars out of five on Goodreads.  The fact I disagree somewhat with the author's conclusions is what dropped the rating down a bit. 

Monday, December 19, 2022

2022 Fall Travels, Part Four - Ethiopia - Paradise Lodge, Lake Chamo, The Dorze, And The Konso

We left Harar and flew to Arba Minch.  This was a travel day and we ended our day at the Paradise Lodge.  This place came close to living up to its name.  The lodge is located on the edge of a ridge with spectacular views of lake Abaya, lake Chamo, and the jungle parkland in between.

Lake Abaya and the forest view of the Paradise Lodge. 
A few days before arriving at the lodge our guide mentioned a great masseuse at the Paradise lodge.  The Wife and I, another of our tour group, and our guide all booked massages the day of our arrival.  I'd expected the usual Swedish massage.  Instead it was a deep tissue massage … my first.  A deep tissue massage is aggressive and this masseuse knew exactly where  the knots in my muscles were and she aggressively went after them.  I cringed a few times at just how aggressive she was.  As I left the spa I warned the Wife and suggested she ask for a less aggressive massage.  I returned to our 'hut' (our hut had a real floor, plastered walls, windows and sliding doors, a king size bed, electricity, and running water … more a hotel room than a traditional hut) and sat out on our back veranda admiring the view.  All of a sudden I felt the delayed reaction of the massage (I think the adrenaline wore off) and my body just relaxed.  I have never felt so relaxed.  The Wife returned an hour later.  This was her first real massage and she loved it.

A goliath heron.
While I was waiting for the Wife to return our hut was visited first by Momma warthog and her two young'uns and later by Poppa warthog.  I was so relaxed it took me a while to get my camera and take a picture of Poppa.
Poppa warthog.

The next day we went to lake Chamo and boarded a motor boat.  The level of the lake was very high and the dock and concession stands were underwater.  We had to walk on a narrow log to get to the boat.  The boat took us out on the lake (This was boat ride number five if I'm counting right) where we saw fisherman fishing from small rafts, birds, hippopotami lounging in the shallows of the lake, and crocodile sunning themselves on an island.  The crocodiles leave their mouths open so birds will come in and clean out any parasites in their mouths.

A crocodile sunning himself with his mouth open.
After lunch at the lodge we drove to Chencha to visit the Dorze people.  These people live in domed houses that look like elephant's head.  The tribe once hunted elephants but over the years the elephants had moved to other locations.  We learned how the homes are built, how termites erode the base of the house slowly shrinking the house, and how the smaller eroded houses are used as kitchens or storage huts.
Dorze "elephant" house.

We then learned how the tribe cultivates the false banana and how they use all parts of the plant for weaving, food, and drink. 

This was followed by a dance and singing demonstration.  This is the part of visiting tribes that bothers me.  It feels like we are watching circus animals performing instead of people actually celebrating their culture.  The only consolation is our tour company pays the tribe for the our visit and this helps them continue their way of life.

On the way out of town we visited the town market where I learned that my name was apparently "Hello Money".  At least that is what all the kids called me.

The next day we reluctantly left the Paradise lodge and drove into the highlands to visit the Konso tribe.  This tribe build their villages on hillsides and surround them with walls.  The location and walls make it easier for them to defend their village from enemies or at least it used to.  As the village grows new walls are built. The village we visited had three concentric walls. The inner walls are hundreds of years old as are the stone terrasses the Konzo people farm on. In the village we learned how they grew coffee, how they built generation poles (a new pole is added for each generation living in the village), and about the stones used to test if you had reached manhood (I was not a man as I could not lift it at all and to be a man you had to lift it and toss it over your shoulder).

Older Konzo men play games and take care of the children as the younger adults work.
At the end of the day we ended up at the Buska lodge in Turmi.  Our adventure in southwestern Ethiopia would continue.

Pictures can be found in my Ethiopia 2022-10 Google Photos album.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #39

  • On Monday we had a call with our healthcare broker.  By keeping our taxable income low next year our monthly health insurance will drop from $555 to $144.  We did not expect this at all.  A side effect of keeping out taxable income so low is the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is contacting me by email and text asking if I'm interested in getting food stamps and other poverty relief assistance.
  • I took Mom to her last doctor's appointments of the year.  She's passed all her tests with flying colors. Yay!
  • The weather will be changing later this week.  More about this in a later post I suspect.  If the forecasts pan out it's going to be chilly.
  • I walked only once this week.  One of my walks was drizzled (and lazy-ed) out.  Since I felt a little guilty for that I pushed myself a bit on Friday and walked 10.5 miles (16.9 km).  When I got home my left thigh was killing me.  I was hobbling around even after I took pain pills.  It took a couple days to totally recover.  I once thought that ten miles was an easy hike. I think this is just another sign that I have become too sedentary (and older).  I am planning to walk twice this coming week - Monday and Wednesday - before the real cold arrives.

Friday, December 16, 2022

2022 Fall Travels, Part Four - Ethiopia - Harar

We left the 'palace' and flew to Dire Dawa in eastern Ethiopia.  From the airport we drove to Harar.  Harar is the fourth holiest Islamic city (after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem) and is the center of the Ethiopian Muslim populous.

A market street in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.
We stopped to check into our hotel.  This one was interesting.  Several of the tour members had to change rooms a few times until they found rooms where the toilet worked or the electricity flowed.  The Wife and I didn't have to move but our toilet had to be fixed.  We ate lunch at the hotel's restaurant where I had my first (and only) spicy hot hamburger.  I'd ordered it figuring it was safe but it wasn't.  I went back to going with the lamb or goat with rice.  This place made the Lalibela hotel seem very nice and elevated the 'palace' in Addis Ababa a notch or two.

The walled city of Harar - mosques are painted turquoise.
The first stop was the Harari City Museum where emperor Haile Selassie spent much of his childhood.  The museum was a mixture of religious and historical artifacts.

Spices and peppers.
The museum was followed by a drive along the old city walls  on the way to a walk in the local market where we saw spices, produce, and stalls selling old car and machinery parts made or repaired by local artisans.

The Wife feeding the hyenas.
(Picture taken by our guide.)
Harar is famous for something … hyenas.  The hyenas live outside the city and, at night, come into the streets.  "Hyena Men", who have passed the tradition through the generations, feed butcher shop waste to the hyenas.  Over the years the hyenas have become accustomed to the people and, being well fed, to not bother the people living in Harar.  We drove down to meet one of the Hyena Men.  The Wife helped feed the hyenas.  Small chunks of meat are placed on a stick that she held out to the hyenas who took the food.  The Wife then held the stick in her mouth, another chunk of meat was place on it, and the hyena took the meat without eating the Wife's face.  I did not feed them.  Unfortunately it was dark and few of our pictures came out.

One of our tour mates, after getting to the place nearly panicked when she saw the hyenas.  When it was time to leave she refused to move.  I took her hand and slowing walked her to the car distracting her with calm talk.  While I did this her husband was laughing at her (the guy was a jerk).

The interior of a harari home.
The next day we visited a typical Muslim home which, frankly, was not too typical as it was now an Airbnb but it was decorated in the traditional style which was quite beautiful.

Next we went to a local meat market and fed scraps of meat to the Kites.  I did feed the kites.  With a piece of meat on the palm of your hand held over your head, the birds would swoop down and take the meat from your hand.  The Wife had some scratches from the bird's claws but I didn't get a single scratch.

A Kite waiting for a snack.
Last stop of the day was at the Arthur Rimbaud Center located in the house of French poet Arthur Rimbaud.  The museum had an interesting display of photographs, history and poetry.  Strangely enough it took us awhile to find the small room dedicated to Rimbaud's poetry.  It felt like an afterthought.

Our guide knew we liked to shop she took us to a shop in an old ladies home.  Most of the items seemed to be old items acquired from other people and artisans.  The Wife and I found many treasures to buy.  The most interesting are handmade prayer books (we think they are prayer books anyway).  The books are small, hand written in an old form of the Amharic language (our guide could not read them), and were hand bound in leather.  One of the books has indentations in the cover like it had been held in someone's hand for a long time.

The Arthur Rimbaud house.
On our last morning in Harar we stopped at a khat market on our way to the airport.  This was a weird experience.  Khat is addictive and you saw a lot of people stoned out of their minds as people carried big bunches of khat leaves to be bought or sold.  None of us felt comfortable here even if it was interesting.

The khat market ... the bunches of leaves are the khat.  The leaves are chewed and are a stimulant.
We left Harar and flew on to our next destination: southwestern Ethiopia.  After experiencing history and religion, we would now experience wildlife and diverse cultures.  Our adventure continued.

Pictures can be found in my Ethiopia 2022-10 Google Photos album.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

A Late Holiday Start On A Gifted Clone

First bloom of the season.
Every year I report the start of the Holiday season when one of our Christmas cactus blooms.  We have two growing at the moment - one fairly young and one older and a bit sickly looking.  I have to admit that I have been unlucky at keeping them alive lately.   I used to be able to propagate them easily but over the past year many of my starts have died.  This year I was gifted one from Mom.  It was grown from a clipping of one of mine so ... technically ... it is the same plant as the two I have ... a clone you could say.

Today, the plant gifted by Mom, bloomed.  It was about a week later than last year's first bloom but sooner than the year before that.  For some reason it really felt late this year.  I guess time is just moving differently than it used to.

As for my own Christmas cactus, the younger one is too busy putting out new leaves while the older, sickly one, is starting to make its first bloom.  We'll see if it survives as some blooms fall off before the reach maturity.

I am considering trying to make starts off the sickly cactus and put it in a smaller pot but I'm afraid I will kill it.  Afraid to even touch it as my green thumb has turned brown lately.

If you're interested in some of the history of this Christmas cactus and its descendant clones, check out this post: "Blooming Old Lady".

Monday, December 12, 2022

2022 Fall Travels, Part Four - Ethiopia - Addis Ababa And Lalibela

We left Egypt late in the evening and arrived in Addis Ababa at 3:40AM (more or less).  It took us an hour to get our luggage and get through passport control.  When we finally got through the gauntlet our guide wasn't there.  We talked to another guide who was there to pick up someone else.  We had our guide's phone number (a first … we usually fly in sort of blind) and he was nice enough to call.  Our guide, Sam, was in the parking lot and had almost given up on us thinking it shouldn't have taken us an hour to get through the airport.  It surprised me too.

The landscape of northern Ethiopia.
Our tour was supposed to start at 10:00AM but our guide changed the time to 11:00AM to give us an extra hour to sleep.  We were grateful to get six hours instead of five.  When you travel every hour of sleep counts.

Tomb of Haile Selassie and wife.
At eleven we met our tour mates.  We have more people, five, on this tour than the other three countries.  Sam showed up on time and we headed out.  Sam would be our guide the entire thirteen days we would be in Ethiopia.  This is not common since most tour companies didn't like to pay the airfare to fly guides around.  In this case Sam was the owner of the tour company so there were no issues with her being with us the entire time.  She turned out to be one of the best guides we've had in my opinion.

The first day would be a city tour of Addis Ababa.  Things had to change on the fly when it was discovered that the National Museum (where the remains of Lucy are kept) was closed.  The drizzly overcast skies also precluded us from going up Mount Entoto to see the view of the city.  Instead we went to the Holy Trinity Cathedral.  We saw a typical Ethiopian Orthodox church with interesting art and stained glass.  Also in this church are the tombs of former emperor Haile Selassie and his wife.

Next we visited the Ethnological Museum and saw weapons, armor, and art of Ethiopia.  Included in this collection are items owned by Emperor Haile Selassie.  I believe the favorite room here for the Wife was one full of depictions of Mary.

A church hewn from solid rock.
Last stop of the day was a late lunch at a rooftop restaurant.  Now, while Egypt was hellishly hot, Addis Ababa, being at altitude, was cold.  Add it the drizzle and rather breezy weather, I froze may patootie off at the restaurant.  I obviously under dressed for the weather here.  Fortunately most of our time in Ethiopia was in warmer areas.

The next day we flew to Lalibela.  Lalibela was why we chose to add Ethiopia to this trip.  My Brother-0in-Law had sent an article to the Wife about the churches here and this sent us on the path to Lalibela.  We drove from the airport, through scenic valleys lined with mountains.  We stopped for the scenery and talked with children returning home from their morning classes.

As we got closer to the churches we stopped at a restaurant for lunch.  The food in Ethiopia was okay but often too spicy hot for my tastes.  Traditionally the food is eaten with the hands using a thin, fermented flatbread, called injera, as a makeshift wrap.  I did not like the taste or texture of the injera so I usually stuck to more traditional lamb, beef, or chicken with rice.  I used the restroom here and had my hands washed by an ancient man with a squirt bottle of soapy water and a pitcher of warm water.

A rock church under a canopy (excluding roof drainage was an oversight by the builders).
There are eleven rock hewn churches at the Lalibela complex.  Sam planned to visit half on the first day and save the rest for our second day in the area.  We started with a small museum with religious items from the still active churches.  Next we began the tour of the incredible churches.

A pilgrim admiring a church.
The churches are carved from solid rock.  They first carved out the hole the church would be in leaving a large rock in the middle.  Then they would start carving the churches from an upper window until the rock was a hollow chamber where the churches were.  Just thinking how much work it would take to carve all that rock for eleven churches is mind boggling.

Our hotel in Lalibela was a bit crude but comfortable enough … unless you realized that all you had was a half roll of toilet paper.  The beds were also rock hard.  Having said this, we'd expected this as our hotel was described as "the best available." WIFI was not available so Sam carried a portable hotspot with her that worked half the time.

On our second day, after breakfast at the hotel, we drove up in the mountains, passing (and visiting) a local farmer working his land, to see the Yemrehanna Kristos cave church.  The church, built in a cave, was very interesting.  Every church we visited had its own priest who often showed us the churches prized possession, usually a solid gold cross or and intricately painted icon.  Some only displayed these things because they were friends with our guide Sam.

The Yemrehanna Kristos cave church.
Priest with gold cross.
After lunch at the same restaurant as the day before (the number of restaurants that were tourist friendly were few and you had to give the restaurants at least an hour's warning if you want the food on time) we returned to the church complex to see more of the carved churches.  We saw all of them except one.  Sam said it would be nicer to see it in the morning light so she was saving it for our last day in Lalibela.

That night, the day before the Wife's sixtieth birthday, Sam brought in a big cake to celebrate.  It was a fun way to end the day.  We gave the uneaten half of the cake to our driver who had kids.

Our last day in Lalibela we went to the famous Church of Saint George.  Sam was right, the morning light definitely made it more photogenic.  Saint George is the most important Saint in Ethiopia and we saw many churches dedicated to the saint.

Church of Saint George.
After finishing the churches at Lalibela we drove to the airport to fly back to Addis Ababa.  At the airport there was a kerfuffle when someone found the binoculars one couple in our tour group were carrying.  Apparently binoculars could only be carried if you registered them.  In the end the binoculars were taken from the couple and sent to Addis Ababa where they would be delivered to the couple on the plane when they were leaving the country.  How they had flown twice (into/out of Addis Ababa and to Lalibela) without anyone complaining we don't understand.  Sam really worked hard to get those binoculars back and called in a lot of favors before hitting the brick wall.  The politics, especially at the airports, is terrible.

We finally left Lalibela and returned to our hotel in Addis Ababa.  The hotel here was nice but not Israel - Turkey - Egypt nice.  After the hotel in Lalibela, though, the Addis Ababa hotel felt like a palace.

The next day we would be going to the Muslim part of Ethiopia.  Our adventure continued.

Pictures can be found in my Ethiopia 2022-10 Google Photos album.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #38

  • On Tuesday I took Mom out for lunch and errands while the Wife cleaned her house.  I kept the Wife's "I haven't cleaned a toilet" streak going by cleaning Mom's bathroom when we got back.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright statue in the park.
    (Picture taken by the Wife)
    On Thursday, after my dental checkup (all good) the Wife and I drove to Mason City, Iowa where we met the MoH and BM.  We spent the evening and most of the next morning talking about our respective trips (they went to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Germany), the Wife's family chatter, and generally catching up with the news.

    The next morning we woke up to four inches (ten centimeters) of snow.  This was the first real snow I've experienced this winter so far and it was beautiful.  I had my phone and camera and didn't manage to take pictures.  Fortunately the Wife did.

    In Mason City we stayed at the craftsman style Historic Park Inn, the last standing hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  It was a beautifully built and furnished hotel.
  • I walked twice this week for a total of 16 miles (25.8 km).  I was planning to walk longer but just couldn't do it.  Not sure if the issue is in my body (and age) or my mind.  I suspect it is more a mental issue.

Monday, December 05, 2022

2022 Fall Travels, Part Three - Egypt - The Nile, Aswan, Abu Simbel, And Cairo

Our relaxing, and fascinating, cruise up the river Nile was coming to an end.  We arrived at Aswan, location of the Low (old) and High (new) Dam that controls the flow of the river Nile and generates forty-five percent of Egypt's electricity. While the river is very photogenic the dam is almost too big to take in.

When the Dam was built lake Nasser, one of the largest man-made lakes was created.  This created some friction with neighboring Sudan that had a large parts of the Nubia region flooded forcing the evacuation of the Nubian people. The conflict continues today as the Sudanese are damming some of the rivers that source the Nile.  The strategic importance of the dam to Egypt is evident by the conspicuous military presence in the area around the dam.

The Temple of Philae.
When Lake Nasser was created many temples were submerged.  A few were saved and one of those, the Temple of Philae was our next stop.  The temple had been moved to an island.  We took a small boat out to the island and toured the temple dedicated to the Goddess Isis.

Young entrepreneurs.
In the afternoon, after having lunch on the ship, we took another small boat, this time a sailboat, onto the river Nile.  Our luck was not so good as there was no wind this day so we had to hire another boat to tow us up the river.  While we waited for our tug boat kids on surfboards paddled out to us and sang a few songs for a tip.  It was fun.

We were pulled to another island that had an extensive botanical garden.  We took some time to admire the extensive collection of trees and plants and to buy some magnets naturally.  This was kind of a filler activity I think.  We were to see the Nubian museum but I believe it was closed when we were there.

Views of an Imam's grave overlooking the Nile from our Sailboat.
The next day we said goodbye to the Oberoi Philae and flew to Abu Simbel.  Here we were met by our third Egyptologist who took us to the magnificent temple of Ramses II.  This was one of the highlights of Egypt.  This temple was moved stone by stone while the water level of lake Nasser was rising to a safer elevation.  The work of the conservationists is amazing.  It looks like it has always been there.

The Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel.  They left the one
statue broken as they originally found it when they moved it
After a couple hours at the temple complex - quite enough as it was 112℉ (44℃) this day - we returned to the airport and flew to Cairo for our last night in Egypt.  We were at a hotel near the airport and there were weddings going on everywhere.  Very fancy weddings with lots of music and dancing.

The Temple of Ramses II and his Wife Nefertari's Temple next door.
(He put his statues in his Wife's temple …the guy was a narcissist.)
Our travel agent had booked an extra night in the hotel since our flight out wasn't until 10:35PM so we didn't have to check out and wait in the lobby for nearly twelve hours.  We will have to thank her the next time we see her.

The Pyramids in Cairo … ✔ 
Egypt was magnificent and amazing in so many ways.  We'd tried to get here three times.  The first two were stopped by the Arab Spring demonstrations and the military coup a few years later.  The third try was the charm.  It was worth the wait.  Everything was incredible - the sights, the experiences, and our guides.  All amazing.

Later that night we boarded our plane to our last country.  We said goodbye to Egypt and hello to Ethiopia where our adventure would continue for two more weeks.

Pictures can be found in my Egypt 2022-09 Google Photos album.