Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I've got your number, or had your number.

On October 6th all mobile phone users were given an extra digit as to accommodate the 60 million cell phones in use...if you were to play the numbers game that leaves about 20 million Egyptians phone-less. Rumor has it that new government regulations will require all newborns to be given a Nokia.
One of our beloved workers, Ayat, showing off her hands-free device. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

North Coast Egypt and Alamein

The extra-curricular duties at our school are out of control, a couple of weeks ago they made us spend our entire weekend at resort on a beach. We were more or less forced to swim in the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean, play volleyball and horseshoes, relax, hang out with friends, eat from a buffet, and worst of all attend a late night dance party. It was far too much to endure. I sure hope we don't get punished like this again ;-)    

This is where we stayed
Paradise isn't it? 
The two above billboard images are the vision for the compound where we stayed and this photo is the reality check. It never hurts to dream big!
Spent two days here, what torture.
Outside our room.
It was a bloody battle and with heavy casualties on both sides. The cork put up a good fight but inevitably lost. 
El Alamein-the Italian memorial.
In 1942 El Alamein was the site of two major battles in North Africa. The Axis troops were eventually pushed back to Tunisia in November of 1942. Between 40,000- 50,000 German and Italian troops died, wounded, or captured.   
Outside the Italian memorial with Omneya.
Plaques with the names of the Italian soldiers.

Gazing out to the sea. 
After the war Winston Churchill wrote: "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat."
The side museum had several artifacts from the battle, including props from Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thief. Not really, I couldn't stand to pass up that comment.
The English solider who wore that helmet died.  
The sign on the bottom left is just a little bit upside down. 
Axis and Allies.
Then there was the German memorial site a few kilometers away.
Up close and personal. 
In the center of the memorial. There were a few co-workers taking "Facebook friend" pictures in front on the center statue, it was just a little tacky and disrespectful.
A little earthier than the Italian site.
Only if I could read German
Plaque with names of the German soldiers.  
At the entrance.
Stairs leading to the top. 
Ribbons and wreaths for the commanders.  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Al Altereen and the Freedom and Justice party

Al Altereen is the antique area in Alex. It is the place where Josh and I were walking around last May and saw an Osama Bin Laden poster up on someone's wall-that was the moment Josh became a Canadian and I became Mexican. Here we are in October and the poster is still up. Josh was on a hunt for an antique corkscrew and bottle openers. Mission accomplished. 
It's about time my student examples saw the light of day...though not as popular as the Freedom and Justice candidate posters that seem to line just about every street. FYI The Freedom and Justice Party was spun from the Muslim Brotherhood this past April. Part of their party platform indicates freedom, justice and equality is granted by God to man, so they are inherent rights of every citizen without distinction of religion, gender, and race with the bonus of free-market capitalism (focus on tourism). Hope they know that tourists like beer and don't want the pyramids or the great Sphinx of Giza to go by the way side under strict Islamic law. All of it sounds good minus the religious element and the glass ceiling for Christians and women as they can only go as far as a cabinet appointment in government. The military just passed a law today (in response to last week's sectarian violence) to outlaw discrimination; the upcoming elections should be a blast.       
After posting this in front of the college, several students were taking a picture with it. 
Not quite sure what this is, but it was selling for 1000 EGP (167 USD)
The expression of the man is pretty great, "Thank you God for vanilla and coco naked women."
Tonight's dinner.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chamonix and the Mont-Blancs (you new band's name)

We just couldn't keep ourselves out of France. This time Ji, Ana, and I made Knut take a sick day so we could go play hooky in the French Alps but more importantly find a barbecue grill with the accompanying meats.  
Out of Switzerland and into France. If only the border crossing between Tijuana and San Ysidro was this simple.
We encountered farm country. 
See, you could live here.
Mont-Blanc sighting and I'm not talking about the pens.
Chamonix might as well be a larger Vail or any other popular ski resort town. Sure you can buy excellent chocolates, have lunch at an outdoor cafe and indulge in local aged salami. The advantage Chamonix has over the competition is the plethora of year-around outdoor activities...trekking, biking, skiing, climbing, and sightseeing just to name a few.    
I freely admit that I'm a chicken when it comes to heights and enclosed spaces. Knut and Ji bought us all tickets to ride the cable car to Aiguille Du Midi (3842 meters/12,600 feet). The ride is in two segments, the first stopping Plan De L'Aiguille to grab a snack and switch cars.   
The view from Plan De L'Aiguille at 2317 meters (6.700 feet) looking up 1525 meters (5,000 feet) to the summit. I barely overcame the first ride, could our team go on further? 
Don't worry, the mountains are only a cardboard cut-out.
A glance of our surroundings
Chamonix looks small from up here.
Looking for lac Bleu.
Knut and Ji weighing the options of taking the next ride up to the top. Will they do it? 
Knut and I thought we should send Ji and Ana to the top on our behalf, that sounds better than saying we were trembling with fear. I suppose I could have made the journey with the girls had a loaded gun been pointed at my head, but since there wasn't....Ana captured this image of two climbers on the way up. 
My hero at the top gasping for air. 
The summit of Aiguille Du Midi. There was an added option of riding a gondola above glaciers between France and Italy after reaching the top. Just dart me with a tranquilizer gun.   
After a panoramic view of the world and a successful mission of locating ribs, duck, sausages, and a vacuum we headed back over to Nyon for grill fest 2011. Wait, we still didn't have a grill. No problem, we found one down the street from Knut and Ji's place. The end. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Antsy for Annecy France

It is true, Geneva was sort of a bore and we needed something with a little more kick. A bus ride over into Annecy, France was just what the doctor ordered. Not to sound like a Judas, but my friends in the past have heard me say some not so nice things regarding France. This was during the dark ages when I once knew everything. I have since changed my tune during the age of enlightenment and now embrace the land of croissants and berets. 

No doubt that Switzerland was pricy. In fact when I was chatting with my dad and he asked if it was still expensive considering the last time he was there was over 50 years ago. It's good to know that you can still count on Switzerland to empty your wallet. Here's one for the books, a quotable quote: "I was excited to be paying in EUROS!" When have you ever heard an American utter those words?    

The Venice of France has several buildings along the Thiou canal feeding into Lake Annecy. 
A stroll through the town's center. 
It was a little hike up to Château d'Annecy (Castle) but the view was worth it.
Lake Annecy from the castle.
Do a google image search on Annecy and you'll more-than-likely run across The Palais de l'Isle. The structure sits on the Thiou canal and once housed the Lord of Annecy, later it was converted into a jail, and now acts as a local history museum.    
Tourists. They thought Ana was a local because she was wearing a shirt with French fries
Ana had a galette (non-sweet crêpe) with goat cheese, honey and rosemary it was fab. I got stuck with the intestine and artery clogger favorite plate of cheese, bread, and ham.  
The lake was packed. The town had vacation written all over it. The Garden of Europe sits alongs the lake's shore and offers a relaxing stroll.  
Sure, why not. 
I would live here for the sole reason of joining the bocce club. If you ever need to douse yourself in bocce memorabilia visit the clubhouse.  
Pont des Amours (Lover's bridge) sits in the background. 
Boats for hire.
The panting pig carousel ride.
Du Pain & des Epices is your new favorite Tex Mex/Indian restaurant.

The official logo, the runner-up was the sombrero wearing Speedy Gonzales racing around the Taj Mahal.

Lightbulbs and packaged cheap hard liquor hanging off the walls of Carrefour Express (France's answer to Walmart). 
Protecting the ones you love.