COSI’s Lost Egypt Exhibition

COSI Visits Life on an Egyptian Farm by Carli
March 8, 2008, 5:49 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Author: Carli

On our way back to the hotel after a long hot day in the Valley of the Kings, with another layer of tomb dust on our boots, and astounding photos and memories locked in our minds, we stopped at a small farm house in the middle of a sugar cane field. We took photos and video of the young men working in the field, and were invited into the mud-brick house by the father and his two wives (yes, two).

They must have had ten or twelve children, who were gracious and showed us around their home. The floors and walls were made of mud, and their beds were made of sheets on the ground. The children wore tattered clothing and pajamas but were well fed and laughed contagiously. One of the older girls grabbed my hand and said, “madam, madam, I show you something.”

With cautious curiosity I followed her into a roofless room in the house which housed their animals. One of the goats had a young kid, which couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old. The girls picked up the baby animal and brought him to me to pet. Their cows were a bit spooked by our invasion, and I kept tripping over ducks and buckets of feed. Then the father motioned me over to the donkey for a test ride. I climbed up onto their donkey, and they placed one of their youngest daughters in front of me.

We had a great laugh, and the older daughter who had led me around the home asked if it was my first time on a donkey, which was clearly evident from the way the poor animal shifted from side to side trying to remove the obvious rookie from his back. We thanked them for their hospitality and gave them “baksheesh” (tips) for their willingness to share their lives on camera, and then we somehow switched off the urge to cry, and got back on our air-conditioned bus to hit the hotel buffet before the crowds.

The family was strong, happy, and healthy, yet their livelihood might as well have been on another planet. It was so foreign. Our guide, Ehab, said that the farmer probably makes at most $2000 Egyptian pounds per month, which is the equivalent of about $400 US dollars. But he also said that this is the lifestyle that they are used to; they wouldn’t know what to do with any more. Yet somehow I can’t help but wish to do more.

A Little Goes Along Way by Carli
March 7, 2008, 6:05 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , ,

Author: Carli

We passed through a village on our way to the Tombs of the Nobles, and within seconds, children came scampering from the doorways to sell us hand-made dolls. The dolls were little fabric people and camels with flowing skirts and decorative earrings. The children must have spoken ten different languages, and after presenting their pieces to each of us and trying to barter deals, they asked “maybe later?” then sat outside the tombs waiting for us.

Between tomb shots, we got some video of them playing tag and an Arabic version of ring-around-the-rosie. I gave them each an Egyptian pound (equivalent to about 20-cents American) for their terrific camera work. When I pulled out the roll of singles, I went from 30 kids to what seemed like 130. Our guides had to help me to avoid a total mob scene. But they were so sweet, and their little bare feet reminded me of my own child, so I felt obligated to share!

I also managed to score a ride on the back of a motorcycle today. The head guardian of the tombs (wearing a traditional Galabya robe and headscarf with sunglasses) took me for a joy ride through the desert amongst the hundreds of tombs. I felt like Lara Croft! He jokingly proposed after the ride, but I had to turn him down. He even offered to find my husband an Egyptian wife in exchange, which he may have enjoyed, but I figured I’d have to consult him first! 🙂