Wednesday, September 30, 2009
An early morning wake up call roused the two little bed bugs from under the covers. It was going to be a great day since we were going to visit Petra - voted as one of the new Wonders of the World (via an Internet voting system, mind you). We were stoked...no problem getting us two up this morning!
We travelled over to the the Petra Visitors Center where we got the tickets and map to the site. Most people have heard (or seen in movies) the most famous monument at Petra called the Treasury (think Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Transformer 2), but we were pleasantly surprised to find out that the area comprising all the ruins is 24 square miles...and we only had 10 hours to do it!!! Like most people, we picked and choosed the best monuments...
We started to walk down the dusty road that leads to the start of Petra. Chased by vendors with horses and chariots offering to take you to the treasury for a healthy sum, our legs were morning fresh and we had adrenalin coursing through our body. We moved as fast as our guide would let us...since there are many interesting sites along the way to look at and appreciate, in order to get an understanding of the tribes that lived in Petra. But I have to tell you, it was like reigning in an 8 year old on Christmas Morning...
Some of the sites at Petra date back to 5000 BC, but most of the "major" monuments (ie Treasury, Monastary) date to the 1st century AD. A local people called the Nabataeans moved to the area in 6th century BC and kept control of the canyon as it was on a trading route for spices and precious incenses. The Nabataeans came to their peak around 0 BC to 60 AD when the area had a population approximated of 30 to 40,000 people. This was also when the development of the area took over, as their engineers built aquaducts and water cisterns, dams, the tombs and the living quarters for the village.
Around 100 AD, the Romans came to town and took Petra by force. Like most ancient cities that were conquered by the Romans, they then started building typical "Roman" structures - churches, amphitheaters, streets for chariots, and this is all evidence in Petra.
After a few other negligible changes in power over the years, Petra was soon forgotten - by foreigners anyway. Petra "went off the map" from 1200 AD to 1812 AD, and was known only to the local Bedouin tribes. These tribes were very secretive about the area, and would not reveal its location to anyone...until an Swiss man rode into town pretending to be a Holyman.
From there, the rest is history. At its peak, Petra has seen visitors totaling about 6000 people per day (thank god when we were there, only about 1500 were in attendance). With only 5% of the area being excavated, archeologists are still very active and are constantly uncovering more and more tombs (with a village of 40,000 people at its peak, there has to be TONNES of tombs!).
So now that you have the history of the site...
We started our walk down the Siq - or canyon. The Siq is naturally occuring "split" between two rocks that used to be one. A large earthquake cracked the fragile sandstone and started the gap. Over the years, flash floods have also caused erosion through the canyon, so in its current state, it is easily walked through by up to 6 people wide. Evidence from the top of the canyon show that in ancient times, it was probably only a meter or so as a gap, creating an excellent "choke point" for taxing caravans or defending the village.
What is amazing about the Siq is the sandstone. The colors that are now exposed from the erosion appear as waves in the sandstone in hues of red, orange and pink. The Siq is about 1.2 km long, but with our excitement, it felt like it only took about 5 minutes to walk through...
At the end of the Siq, we all got what we were waiting for...our first glimpse of the Treasury. The sight was exactly what you see in all the postcards for Jordan and for Petra. With our cameras clicking away (and hoping for absence of tourists!) we got our shots and walked the final 50 meters to stand at the foot of the Treasury.
The Treasury was built as a tomb for one of the Nabataean kings, but was labelled the "Treasury" because of the story that a Pharaoh had hid gold in the urn at its peak (apparently not true). The Treasury is a sight to behold, and we hung around for about 1 hour as we waited for the sunlight to light up the facade - it is only in the sun for 1/2 hour each day.
From the Treasury, we headed over to some of the other sights including the amphitheater, Royal Tombs, and the Village "mock up" where I scared a guy so bad by spearing him with his own spear!
A few interesting things along the way were the little kids (that should have been in school) selling the multi-coloured sandstone rocks at their own vendor stand - similar to a North American kid's first lemonade (or Snoopy slushee!) stand.
Lunch was what I have come to think is standard tourist food - buffet with chicken. By now, both Vince and I are SOOO buffet'ed out - the only good thing is the unlimited hummous (or homos as they spell it here in english!!!! - I love to smear my bread with homos).
After lunch, we started to head out for the Monestary. For 30 minutes, and over 800 steps, we slogged our way up the path. But again, it was all with it. We rounded a corner to find the Monestary in all its glory staring back out at us. A further 10 minutes brought us to a remote tea shop called "The End of the World" that had fantastic views of the valley.
The afternoon ended with one more hike up to a viewpoint ABOVE the Treasury - a different way to look at this fantastic monument - from the top down. What was also great about this hike was that it can be done in silence without any other tourists.
But the day was not done!
We had enough time to go back to our hotel and shower. I was disappointed when I thought I had some great tan lines only to discover after my shower that it was just a fine layer of dirt and sand...
The evening we were very fortunate to have hit one of the days that "Petra by Night" was showing. We joined a group of other tourists after dark and walked the 2 km towards the Treasury AGAIN - but this time in the dark and lit up with thousands of candles. It was meant to be walked in silence, but some tourists are hard-headed and like to ruin it for the others. Nevertheless, we did manage to walk portions of it in silence, and it was extremely powerful. Imagine walking in a canyon, lit up with candles (eery) when all you hear is the footsteps of everyone around you. Great experience. We then sat down in front of the Treasury for some tea and traditional Bedouin music.
It was a great day - and the one that I had been looking forward to the most on the entire trip.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Daytime High - 22 C at 2:00 pm
The morning was very lazy as we woke from our tents with the sun BEATING down on the goat hair walls. Let me tell you - no alarm clock is needed since it turns quickly into a sauna inside the tent. We got up, performed the standard morning rituals of brushing teeth, etc, and then headed for breakfast. Bread, my god, the Atkins Diet is officially calling my name.
We lazed around the lounge seats reading and enjoying the quiet atmosphere before boarding the bus to Little Petra.
Little Petra is so named because it is smaller than the "main" Petra, but still contains the structures carved into the sandstones as does it more famous counterpart. The history lesson told us that the area was used by a small Nabataean tribes around 100 AD (ie. 2000 years old). The area was along a trading route - the structures include temples, dining or living quarters and tombs. All were spectacularly carved right into the sandstone.
One of the great things was that we were allowed to climb on all the structures (some were quite dangerous!), so we climbed the ancient staircases for great views down the siq (channel) into the area, and on the exit point. Oddly, we climbed this remote staircase only to find an active tea shop and souvenir vendor...amazing how you think you are alone, only to find an entrapeneur...
With our afternoon free, we settled down to do what we do best - sleep, eat, laundry and internet...ahh the life...
Monday, September 28, 2009
We awoke this morning in Aqaba, Jordan - the only ocean port city that Jordan has. Being on the Red Sea, it is also considered the "Resort" city for Jordan with lots of snorkeling and diving opportunities.
We were looking forward to breakfast to see if it was any different than breakfast in Egypt...well, we were wrong. It consisted of different types of, you guessed it, BREAD. The good news is that there was also cornflakes and yogurt, so we were able to spice up our life with some variety.
After breakie, we ventured into town for a walkabout and to look through the various markets. We also love to go to the local veggie and meat market, and Jordan's didn't disappoint. We found a great spice dealer that suckered me in for some free tea, and we saw some fresh goats hanging in the windows, still with the hair on their head and tails. Shopping was much more low-key than in Egypt - the vendors let you approach a store and "browse" without breathing down your neck to buy something (or anything that you pick up), and the "Where are you from? Canada - Dry" comments were of course absent. Awww, mourning for the good old days...
After our shopping excursion, we were all pretty fired up to start our first Jordan adventure - onward to Wadi Rum!!!
Wadi Rum is the desert landscape in southern Jordan. The area has been made famous by the stories of "Lawrence of Arabia". Here, we were going to be camping overnight with the Bedouin - the same nomadic people that populate the deserts in southern Egypt and northern Sudan. None of us knew what to expect when we were told "camping" but we were up for anything. Essentially, we stayed in a semi-permanent camp with tents made from a goat-hair type canvas. The camp could hold about 200 people - so really, it was a desert hotel...but it was great!
We settled in and got ready for our desert 4x4 ride. We went into the desert and cruised through the sand amongst all the rocks and dunes. We stopped at a few picturesque locations along the way where the sun starting effecting our heads and we started doing crazy things with the photos! The highlight was going to Red Sand Dunes and, as a group, running down the fine, fine sand...
The evening was relaxing lounging around the fire and listening to some live music by members of the Bedouin tribes. We sat around the fire drinking our wine "From the Holy Land". Like camping back home, once the sun went down, the yawns start coming out, so it was time to head for the tent.
Campfire and Dancing to Bedouin Music at Night
A good thing about the day...all of our guide books talked about shaking out your bed sheets before sleeping to ensure that there are no scorpions or camel spiders...I am happy to say that somehow we managed to avoid any encounters with those creatures!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Daytime High - Unknown, but 32 degree celsius in Aqaba at 11:00 pm....
Sometimes in life you have to make tough decisions. At these turning points, you always dread if your choice was the right one...
This morning Vince and I came to those exact crossroads. We woke up in our loft cabana (read - WOW) to a beautiful sunny day (I don't think there is any other type of day in Egypt). I stretched like a cat in the bed and then realized that I had to make that tough choice - do I go outside and snorkel on the stunning reef or do I sit basking in the sun and surf and read my book??? I chose a combination - read my book and took a dip in the Red Sea - gee, I hope I don't regret that decision in years to come...
Nakhil Inn - Nuweiba Beach Resort (Red Sea in Background!)
After lazily wandering around in the morning, we had to pack up and head out to our ferry to leave Egypt and head to Jordan for more adventures. Egypt has been an incredible trip and many "preconcieved thoughts" that we had about this country prior to arriving have definately changed - which is typically the reason for travelling: to validate or disprove the assumptions or stereotypes that you have, and therefore, broaden your understanding about the country and get a glimpse at its cultures.
A few things Egypt has given us and that we will take with us in our travels:
1. There is always a lower price, the question is how hard do you want to fight for it and is it truly worth it.
2. The vendors sell it because tourists buy it (ie. prism crystals shaped as snowman in the middle of the desert)
3. Finding a hotel room in Egypt that is perfect (ie. no leaking toilet, sink, doors that lock,etc) is like finding the Holy Grail
4. Cairo is not ridden with Pick Pockets - they will get your money right before you eyes through cabs, tips, etc
5. "Canada - Dry" is probably the most well known brand of soda in Egypt
6. Having the last surviving ancient Wonder of the World and an amazing and extensively long and rich history makes it all worthwhile....
So, we depart for the ferry terminal. Our tour group of 14 were all forewarned of the bathrooms at the ferry terminal, so the girls queued at the hotel to squirt out that last drop of liquid. When we got to the ferry terminal, we maneuvered through customs with ease (thanks to our tour leader greasing the wheels with a little thing called cash) and went into the waiting area. For some odd reason, there were flies a plenty hanging around our area, so Vince passed the three hour wait by becoming the "Fly-Ninja". He engineered his bandana into a killing machine and proceeded to systematically murder all the flies that were unfortunate enough to come near us. There was a family from Iraq sitting behind us (the daughter was practicing her english with me), and Vince became an idol to their young 8 year old son as he saw this menacing action.
The other highlight of this ferry terminal was the bathrooms that we were "forewarned" about - well, thinking that I have travelled and "there can't be a worse bathroom than..." coming to my mind, I decided to venture over to that area to check out the toilets...two other girls joined me as they were just as curious...well, I have to say, they could have made a horror video out of the bathroom. We had only made it two feet into the door when the fresh smell of feces overwhelmed our nasal passageways and then my vision encountered the horror of a 4" in diameter log sitting in the middle of the floor - how do you miss by 4 feet????? We backed out - the excursion was over.
Mass Transport to the Ferry!!!
The ferry ride over to Jordan was pretty uneventful. The passage took approaximately 2 hours, and being tourists, we got to jump the queues (this must piss off the locals, but we all do it regardless). We nestled into some seats we found and ordered some lunch to burn off the last bit of Egyptian currency that we were still packing. The ferry arrived in Aqaba and we met our guide for the Jordan. We have now been shuttled to our hotel where we will have a good nights rest before our desert safari in Wadi Rum.
First impressions of Jordan are excellent. Very professional customs officers (ie. I didn't see anyone asking for a tip), clean streets, and very quiet. Surreal quiet, in fact, coming so soon from Cairo - we don't hear the random horns honking. I guess that is what happens when you go from a country of 80 million to 6 million.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Day 13 - St. Catherines Monastery, Nuweiba
It was quite a contrasting stay compared with the sightseeing at ancient sites we had grown accustomed to. It was a wonderful afternoon of snorkeling and lounging on the beach with the staff bringing us drinks and food.
Our photos are on our water camera...so unfortunately the sea photos can't be posted!!!
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Daytime High: 40 C
The overnight train from Luxor to Cairo was as expected... unidentifable meat products for food, way too much shuddering of the cars and very awkward stops and starts at the station. Given our previous experience with the train from Cairo, we came better prepared. First, we brought our own unidentifiable meat prodcut courtesy of KFC, which by the way was excellent... funny how we only eat it abroad. Second, we had such a long day, it was much easier to fall asleep and sleep through the interuptions.
We arrived in Cairo, early morning and went to the Citadel, again. I guess we should have read the itinerary for what activities were included in the trip, but that is typically something Sherrill does as I like the excitement of the unknown. We learned much more the second time around... I guess that is why you go with a guide.
After the Citadel, it was off to see the Khal Kalini bazaar, again. But this time, we had a shopping list in mind and Sherrill was hell bent on finding all of her items. It started with the papyrus print of Queen Nefertari and Ramses II. We played "good cop, bad cop" with me playing the role of angry spouse not wanting his wife to buy yet another trinket. In the end, it worked out and we got the print at a reasonable price... now for the $100+ spent to frame the print. Sherrill also picked up a silver scarab... not sure about the facination about insects now since she is usually calling me to squish them. Perhaps it is the silver that is talking to her. Finally, I picked up a sheesha, a middle eastern water pipe. For those that know me, I never smoke, but the thought of a collapsable pipe for camping trips was just too much to pass up.
We were going to end the day with a trip to the Pharonic VIllage, a "Disneyland" of all things Egypt, complete with them park characters. In the end, we did not go because the price was much higher than we were told. We also found it kinda strange that the parking lot attendant was looking to give us a discount on the entry price... only in Egypt.
It was an early night since we had to get up early for our trip to the Sinai pennisula to climb the fabled Moses Mountain, the biblical mountain where Moses first wrote the Ten Commandments.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I patiently waited for my donkey - and got a beautiful grey one - wait - aren't all donkeys grey? Actually I was thrilled that mine didn't have fleas!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Daytime High - 49 C
It has been a busy last few days between travel and visits...so I apologize for the lack of postings, especially since it is difficult to get wi-fi while on board a sailboat!!! Vince has been diligent in writing the blog in word pad, so please scroll through and see the last few days (if you haven't already). I have given him a much-deserved writing break and decided to do a few postings!
We awoke from the feluca wide eyed and bushy tailed at the crack of sunrise. You try sleeping through Ra as he blasts his rays of light on your face...even through my eye patch I couldn't escape the sun...and with the sun, came that ever lasting feeling that you could fry an egg on my forehead...my god is the sun smoking hot here.
On another note, I am not the best Morning Person, in fact, I always care to describe myself as an "Afternoon Person" when asked: I am at my prime somewhere between noon and 3pm...after that, all you get is an ornery, stubborn b*tch. Needless to say, you can imagine how P.O.'ed I was when I opened my eyes to view the glorious sunrise, that I had positioned myself to see the evening before, and all I can see is a big, wide fleshy back.
*Editors Note: Sherrill was especially ornery in the morning since they fired up the generators to start cooking, so there was no way she could sleep in.
After the sunrise, we got up for some breakfast (bread) and passed our Captain who was still smoking his sheesha. Pretty sure he had smoked it all night and that it was now welded to his lips. We waved goodbye to our felucas and set off by vehicle to the famous city of Luxor!!!
Once in Luxor, we immediately headed to the Karnak Temple. It was early in the morning, and it was already hot - at 8:00 am the town clock read 42 C. We asked our Tour Leader to not let us know how hot it was...we were going to slug through it, but nothing diminishes the spirits then to know that you took years off your brain from frying it in the sun for a 3,500 year old temple.
I have also always said that my history lessons have come mainly from movies (Troy, Gladiator, Naked Gun, etc), and I would like to point out that I believe the Karnak Temple was depicted in Dreamwork's "Prince of Egypt" animated cartoon...check it out! (that and "The Mummy")...
After wandering around this vast complex in the scorching sun and learning only a fraction of its teachings, we encountered "The Scarab". The Legend of the Scarab is that if you walk around it 7 times counter clockwise, your wish will come true. Vince, ever the opportunist, immediately starts thinking of "the best" wish to wish for - you know, the one that starts off with "I wish for 1000 wishes", etc. We then start moving around the scarab - and start realizing that some people are INSANE...there are some guys running and sprinting around this thing - meanwhile, my wish is just "I wish I don't get heat stroke while I walk around in the 49 degree sun..." and wouldn't you know it - it worked! I managed to complete my seven turns without getting heat stroke...while I be dammed...maybe there is something to the legend...
At dusk, we crossed the Nile to the West Bank to start our second camel adventure. This time, we were taking the camels into the villages and farmlands. It was peaceful and a great opportunity to see village life, but nothing screams "tourist" more than riding a camel passed someone's house...needless to say, I am finetuning my camel riding skills in the event it becomes an Olympic Sport.
The evening ended with a walk around the Luxor Temple - directly in town, I was half expecting a Las Vegas style hotel with a big strobe on the top, but it was absolutely amazing. The temple was lit up with lights and illuminated at the columns. It was beautiful, and with the wind off the Nile, the "49 degree Celsius" heat was almost forgotten...well, almost...
Luxor Temple - at Night
Monday, September 21, 2009
Daytime High: 45C
Today was awesome for recovery after the very early start yesterday. We did not leave the hotel until 10:30, so we got to sleep in and relax. The hotel breakfast was the best so far (worst was the overnight train from Cairo to Aswan which consisted of bread, some bread, followed by more bread, finished off with a slice of bread). The breakfast at this 4 star hotel and a very nice spread and included a great cereal selection... corn flakes and cocoa puffs (not lying, although there is no photo evidence). We ate and used the bathroom way more than needed because we were sailing down the Nile in a felucca, a traditional Egyptian boat, which does not have a bathroom...Sherrill, with the bladder the size of a cherry, was stressed out all night over the threat that you could only go pee once every two hours...
The trip down the Nile was fantasitic and very relaxing. We lounged under the cover of a sunshade a sailed, QUIETLY down the Nile. This was the first time in a week where we had some tranquility, at least when the Club Med cruise ships weren't rocking the waters with their diesel engines. We had two boats and a support boat, and spent the afternoon reading, snoozing and taking photos. There was very little chatter, as most everyone enjoyed the peace. Even on the water, it was still warm, so I fashioned a sun shade out of my "Iron Sheik" head covering. Sherrill now has a kink in her neck after only being able to lie one way on the boat - the traditional clothing of the Egyptians and Nubian men is this one piece, cotton Shirt that extends all the way to the ankles. Unfortunately, "undergarments" appear to not be consistent, and with our Captain in a squat position steering the Feluca, Sherrill got one to many glimpes of his jewels...she now complains that she is blind in one eye...
The only mishap of the day occurred when our captain, an old Nubian gentlemen, gave me the rudder while he went to check the sails just prior to docking for lunch. His English is as good as my Nubian, so he gestured for me to take the rudder and point it straight towards the support boat which was docked. Being the exceptionally adept sailor that I am, I just left the rubber pointed straight at the boat until he finally realized we were on a t-bone collision course. He started screaming in Nubian as his hands were on the sail ropes, I started pushing the rudder both ways, neither of which reduced the chatter from him. Our guide, unfortunately, does not speak any Nubian, so he was just as confused as the rest of us. Finally, Dave, one of the crack linguists and part time sailor figured out what the old dude wanted and steered us the right way. It took both of us to move the rudder as we had picked up a lot of speed and finally the boat came to rest in a small, boggy, debris filled swamp next to the support boat. Unfortunately, the old dude, dressed head to toe in white garments, had to jump into the swamp and get us out. He was muttering the whole time, and I have the imagination to figure out what he was probably saying.
The stars were visible in the night sky as the light pollution was minimal, but the air pollution was typically thick, so they were not as brilliant as other spots we have star gazed (Nepal still ranks as number one for me).
It was an early night as we have a very early morning as we head to Luxor.
Our Sleeping Arrangements (and Vince stealing Sherrill's sunrise spot)...
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Daytime High: Aswan - 45C, Abu Simbel - 50 C
Our trip to Abu Simbel started out in the most interesting of ways. Abu Simbel is located 3 hours drive (300 km) south of Aswan close to (ie. 40 km) the Sudan border (yes, that Sudan always making the news).
In order to go there, the buses and vans must travel as a single convoy, with the first convoy leaving at 4:00 a.m. The purpose of the convoy is to protect the people going to visit this very special temple from a few dangers. First, the temperature extremes seen here are very real and a threat. In the past, vehicels have broken down and not found within a day. Needless to say, in temperatures as high as 65 C in peak summer, this is a major concern. Therefore, buses are only loaded half full in the event vehicles break down, so the passengers can board and be driven to safety. Second, there is still some unrest in this part of Egypt, so it is easier to patrol and protect the highway if all vehicles travel together. Armed guards accompany the buses at the front, back and middle of the pack in the event that some less "desirable" people decide to overtake the convoy. If you ask me, the convoy seems odd, since I think it makes you even more of a target. This was also the case for the way back to Aswan.
To avoid the heat of the day, we had a 2:30 a.m. wake up call for a 3:15 departure from our hotel. We met up with the convoy and left as a posse. Just because we left as a convoy does not mean that the driving was predictable and uniform. Vans were passing buses, buses were passing vans and cars were passing both. The road was the shits, but there are always surprises to be had. Although the road winds its way through the desert (think rocks and sand, lots of freakin' sand), there were pockets of civilization, which were visible in the distance due to the obvious amounts of vegetation that rise from nothing. The most incredible sunrise was seen with the dull orange glow growing into intense, white hot rays as the sun came over the horizon. Its no wonder the ancient Egyptians worshipped the sun!
After some snoozing, a breakfast on the van provided by the hotel and some world domination (Risk on the iTouch), it was arrival time. One of the drawbacks with driving as a convoy is the mass arrival of tourists and the toilet traffic jam after 3 hours on the road. We got our tickets and entered the gates of the site, to be stunned by... a pile of desert rock. "Yippee, let's get back on the bus" is all I could think. Well I am glad I put forth just a little bit more effort. As we walked around the mound of desert rock, we were greeted by the most amazing site... four, 80 ft high carvings Ramses II, sitting majestically in the low hanging sunlight.
After a brief but informative disucssion of the site and significance, we were turned loose to explore. By this time, the heat was starting to get uncomfortable, but the sights to behold were worth the pain. Inside the temple was glorious pictorals representing great moments in Ramses II life including his great war victories, which earned him the title "God of War". The murals were beautiful and would have been even more stunning if they were still painted. Alas, time and tourists have taken their toll on the great works of art.
Our next stop was the temple for Ramses II wife, Nefertari (no, not Nefertitti who was a completely different person). This was a real treat as this temple was also beautifully carved with large stone figures guarding the entrance to the temple. Given the large number of tourists, it is almost impossible to get a photo of just the monuments, but the God's were with us today as we had a chance. In between convoys of tourists, there was a small window of people-free picture taking, but I had to act fast. There was an old British couple that were sauntering up to take a picture. I covered the distance between myself and them in a flash and jumped in front of them as they readied their cameras. I ended up hip checking the woman and face masking her husband to buy some more time (just kidding, they were patient with me). Sherrill jumped into frame and we managed to get a decent shot off. Thanks!
The trip back was uneventful as everyone was tired and quiet. Once back to the hotel, we went out for lunch to our favorite place, McD's... for the free wifi of course (and the onion rings). We upated the blog and went back to the hotel for some much needed pool time. The water was surprisingly refreshing with most people going in for a quick dip before some more lounging by the pool. I ended up staying in there for a few hours to cool my core temperature down. After the pool, it was off for a few quick showers before our dinner for the evening... Egyptian pizza.
We strolled through the crowded streets of Aswan towards the pizza joint. It was the end of Ramadan, so it was especially lively. The pizza was interesting... I had a sausage and chicken margharita??? (all veggies) pizza, which was surprisingly un-offensive. The sausage, as I was to discover, tasted like all-beef hot dogs, which is probably what it was. A nice surprise and yet another nod for the versatility of hot dogs (goes well in maki sushi rolls as well).
After dinner, we had the pleasure of visiting a spice shop where we got to learn about spices and guess which ones we were smelling (by the way, Sherrill was terrible. When asked what spice was used for teeth, she replied with, "Flouride". Answer = cloves). She picked up a few items (not sure how this works since she doesn't cook...) and we walked the "market gauntlet" of merchants trying to not make eye contact or answer the most painful sequence of phrases. Let me explain:
Merchant: "Come look in my store"
Me: "No thank you"
Merchant: "Where are you from?"
Me: "Canada" - friggin Canadian culture of naievity and never wanting to be rude when asked a question
Now comes the painful part, which happens without fail, every, F-R-E-A-K-I-N time,
Merchant: "Oh, Canada... Canada Dry, never die"
This part gets very old, very quick, but I understand that Egyptians used to love "Canada Dry" (a kind of orange pop, not ginger ale), until the plant got shut down. Oh well, I guess it is also Canadian to be tolerant...