Well, I am FINALLY getting time to update this website!  So sorry for the delay!  So much has happened since I last updated it.  I have some funny stories about the zoo here, but I want to wait on posting that update until all the pictures are retrieved from my friend's old-school 35mm camera and scanned in.

So instead I am going to write about my recent trip to the Western Desert!  The Western Desert (called that because it is west of the Nile) has five main oases scattered along its expanse of 1.75 million square miles.  We visited one of these oases, called Bahariyya.  The Bahariyya Oasis in turn is made up of many villages.  The main village, and the one where we stayed, is Bawiti.  We stayed in a new hotel there which was very nice.

If I had to describe Bahariyya in one word, it would be "simple."  Everything was simple, low-key, and unpretentious.  Our hotel room (we stayed at the Western Desert Hotel) was nice, new, and clean, but it made my flat in Alex look like a mansion.  We met with some friends there who live in a flat in Bawiti that made our hotel room look like a mansion.  We were also able to meet with several of the local villagers there, and most of their houses made our friends' flat look like a mansion!  So I guess everything is relative...the old "until I met a man who had no feet" adage, I guess!

Bahariyya was simple, but in a good way.  Everyone is so friendly.  On one of our days there, we visited with several of the villagers.

We visited one girl named Naglaa that was an artist and had an art gallery right next to her house.  We talked with her for a while and then she invited us over to her house for some peppermint tea.  We sat on a blanket in her courtyard.  After we drank the tea and talked for a bit, she took us up to her roof to see the view from there.

We then wandered through the village until we came to another house where a woman lived that our friend knew.  She also invited us in for tea--this time hibiscus.  We had a good chat and then headed back to our friend's flat for lunch and--you guessed it--tea.

After lunch, we went out to the Oasis Heritage Museum, which contains sculptures and clay figurines depicting village life.  The artist (Mahmoud Eed) wasn't there, but his mother was and we talked with her.  She didn't have any tea, but she did give us lemons from the lemon tree in the back.  Also, she told us where we could find her son if we wanted to talk to him.  He was at a new business of his called the Camel Camp.

So we drove out to the Camel Camp and talked to the artist.  He had a similar display out there at the Camel Camp and took us on a tour of that. Then he took us into the dining section and served us....peppermint tea!

After that, we went and visited another family in the village.  The husband was sick in this family, and many people were visiting him as is the tradition.  The men sat in one room with him and the women sat in the other room.  We talked with the wife, her two daughters, and her mother (who looked ANCIENT).  While we were there, we were served...wait for it...hibiscus tea!

After this visit, we went back to our friends' flat where we had dinner and...fruit tea.  =)

The next day, we took an SUV with four-wheel drive out into the desert and had a blast driving over the sand dunes.  It was quite an experience. 
The SUV did pretty well--it only got stuck a couple of times and we just dug it out!   We eventually found a place between two dunes to shield us from the wind.
We brought a blanket to sit on and had a picnic consisting of chips, a lemon cake made with the
free lemons we got the day before, and.....Pepsi (gotcha)!  It was wonderful. 
I thought it was really cool that as soon as we went off the road, there was no one.  There was not a sign of life ANYWHERE.  And it was so animals, no echoes, no vehicles, no NOTHING.  Quite a difference from Alexandria!

Enter Bawiti Click here for pics from the village.

Enter the desert  Click here for pics from the desert.

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