Ep. 17, Joyride To Egypt: French Chocolate English

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Dancing the night away with Scheri and our new pet monkey seemed like the best way to avoid thinking about the next hurdle in my path to true love. The issue of bringing my children to Egypt was looming larger on the horizon. Clearly, Mr. Answer to my Prayers wasn’t thrilled to include them on the guest list, although he was far too diplomatic to come right out and say it.

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The Donkey: Egypt’s Green Machine


Donkey Pulling Cart Loaded With People, Aga, Egypt

(This is my first article published on Edenkeeper.org:)

Possibly the “greenest” animal on Earth, the humble donkey has enjoyed a very long residence in Egypt, where it is believed that donkeys were first domesticated around 3,000 BCE. A five thousand year history of supporting humans in their daily endeavors is strong testimony to their sustainability, as well as the sustainability practices of Egyptians.


Mosaic From The Coptic Museum, Cairo, Egypt

Donkeys figure frequently in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Scriptures. Perhaps the more famous scriptural account of a donkey in Egypt is the flight of Mary holding the baby Jesus (God’s Peace be upon him), as Joseph leads them out of Nazareth and into Egypt. They also depart Egypt in the same way, a few years later.

Currently in Egypt there is believed to be around 1.2 million working donkeys, horses and mules. The wild ancestor of the domesticated donkey is E. africanus, the African wild ass. Both the wild and the domesticated donkey are members of the horse family, Equidae. Mules are non-reproducing animals, the product of breeding female horses with male donkeys. Donkeys, as well as horses and mules, and even cattle and water buffalo, are hard working animals, created by God specifically to please and assist their human owners, capable of performing long hours of heavy labor to ease our efforts. In the Quran, the Holy Scriptures of Islam, we are enlightened about this in Book 16, verses 5-8:

And the cattle He has created for you
From them you have warm clothing
And uses and whereof you eat
And wherein is beauty for you
When you bring them home
And when you take them out to pasture
And they carry your loads unto a land you could not reach
Except with souls distressed
Behold! Your Lord is indeed Most Kind Most Merciful
And (He has created) horses and mules and donkeys
That you may ride them and for ornament
And He creates that which you know not
(Qur’an 16:5-8)

Especially in the countryside, where the agricultural way of life is more common, it often seems there are more donkeys in Egypt than cars. There is a very special relationship between a farmer’s family and their donkey. Donkeys are able to find their way into the fields, going where no car or truck can go. They feed themselves politely from the field while the farmer is loading up their backs with bundles. They are the most patient of companions, traveling daily back and forth from home to field and from field to market, and finally from market back to home. They obediently carry whatever is required, patiently pulling a cart or a piece of farm equipment, and the sound of their clip clopping hooves on the street as they pass is very quaint and charming.


Donkey Pulling Cart Laden With Tomatoes, El Mahala, Egypt

Sustaining the environment, however, hinges upon sustaining the people and animals within it. Appreciating the importance of our dependence on work animals in the adoption of a more green lifestyle is critical. Labor performed without gas guzzling machinery, and transportation provided by sustainable energy will always require an ingenious mix of new technologies, like wind and solar power, and age old traditions, like donkeys and other working animals.

To support the health and welfare of Egypt’s working donkeys and horses, there is an incredibly helpful organization operating here. The Brooke Hospital for Animals, founded by Dorothy Brooke, has been in operation since 1934, and currently serves seven regions: Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Edfu, Alexandria, Mersa Matruh and the Nile Delta, reaching approximately 200 communities. In 2010/11 they helped 167,000 working horses, donkeys and mules in the country. According to the Brooke Organization website, they report:

“We run mobile veterinary clinics in the Nile Delta, treating working animals and educating their owners in animal welfare, parasitic infestation, grooming and hoof care, feeding and wound management. We provide quality vet services through Brooke clinics and support local health providers to increase their responsibility for treatment and prevention. We train paravets and farriers in the communities where we work. We improve animal welfare practices by providing training sessions, community meetings and best donkey and horse competitions. We conduct regional welfare assessments to provide evidence of improvements in the welfare of high-risk animals. We conduct animal-friendly research for example into eye-abnormalities, body lesions and de-worming.”

Best Donkey and Horse Competitions sound very interesting. You can be sure I’ll be reporting on those events, God Willing! In the meantime, please be sure to visit the website of The Brooke Organization, at: https://www.thebrooke.org/our-work/our-countries2/egypt


White Donkey Grazing Peacefully, Aga, Egypt

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Photo Poem: Leaving The Market


Leaving The Market

Unequally yoked, but equally tied to the fate of their farming owners

A horse and donkey step together, bonded as patient companions

Leaving the market with an empty cart, empty bellies and empty handed

A pair of waterbuffalos tied to the rear, starving and shuffling side by side

Their fates to the same horse and donkey are tied and the sky is as empty as their bellies

The road is as dusty and dry as their eyes, bleak as the future and bleak as behind

From where they are coming, to where they are going, there is far too much in common

© Aisha Abdelhamid 2014

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“Jerusalem Regained, 1187″ Saladin And The Crusades, from Lane-Poole, Part IV, Chapter XIV


Korean Painting of Saladin Entering Jerusalem
Source: https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3036/3010483390_df8442c07a_z.jpg

Excerpt from Chapter XIV: “… The articles of capitulation were signed on the 2nd of October (1187), the Feast of St. Leger. By a strange coincidence, it was the 27th of Rejeb, the anniversary of the blessed Leylat el-Miraj, when the prophet of Islam dreamed his wonderful dream, and visited in his sleep the Holy City which his followers had now recovered after ninety years of Christian occupation.

Balian returned to the city and announced the terms. They were accepted, with gratitude and lamentation. The people groaned and wept, and would not be comforted; they kissed the holy walls which they might never see again, and bowing their faces on the ground before the Sepulchre, watered the sacred spot with their tears. To leave Jerusalem was to tear the hearts out of them. But there was no help for it; the Moslem flag flew overhead, the keys were in the Saracen’s hands, and in forty days the city must be delivered up. Never did Saladin show himself greater than during this memorable surrender. His guards, commanded by responsible emirs, kept order in every street, and prevented violence and insult, insomuch that no ill-usage of the Christians was ever heard of.  Every exit was in his hands, and a trusty lord was set over David’s gate to receive the ransoms as each citizen came forth.

Then began a strangely pathetic scene…”

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Aisha’s Egypt: Watermelon Pyramids


Modern Egyptian pyramids are a lot more accessible than the old ones, and they taste much better, too!

Early mornings are a great time to see strange sights in Egypt. I’m happy to report that pyramid building is still in the DNA of the Egyptians, and the market is the best place to see this skill displayed. Summer is juicy sweet watermelon season, and all the vendors have stacked up huge numbers of them just like pyramids.

Mohamed and I love watermelons, don’t you? It’s hard to beat a crispy, sweet, cold bowl of watermelon in the evenings instead of cooking in the hot kitchen. When we get to the end of our supply in the garage, it means I get another trip to the city and more fun taking photographs. We just ran out a few days ago, so guess what -

Today we went to the market, bought a few more watermelons, and saw the pyramids, too!



Photo Poem: The First Thing I Notice


♥ Remembering my first thoughts when I received this photo on 9 June, 1999 ♥
♥ Dedicated to my wonderful, loving husband Mohamed ♥
♥ On our ♥
♥ 29 July, 2014 ♥

Fifteen years is not a really long time,
Though sometimes it feels like forever -
Sometimes it feels like we have lived
Three lifetimes together
But I’ll gladly take 15 more -
I’m not ready to retire
Just because I’m breathing heavy
Doesn’t mean I’m tired!


This is one of my favorite photos! It was taken by my awesome brother Jim’s awesome wife Corrine!
Visit their excellent travel blog for more awesome photos at:
Reflections Enroute


Ep. 16, Joyride To Egypt: Like A Runaway Train

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Runaway Train by dakann.deviantart (digitally altered - click for original)

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(Source: Getty Images)

“engine, engine, number 9, rolling down Chicago line, how many stations till he stops? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7…”
I awoke with this childhood refrain playing in my brain. It was a jumprope rhyme, a favorite of mine when my girlfriends and I were playing jumprope in the schoolyard. One girl on each end of the rope, one girl in the middle between them, jumping the rope as they cycled it in a large arc over her head, coming down and around again, faster and faster as they counted the number of times the girl in the middle successfully jumped the rope passing beneath her feet on its way up and around again in another revolution. The winner was the girl who could jump to the highest number before stopping or falling flat on her face.

Engine number 9 was out of control, barrelling down the track with no intention whatsoever of stopping. If it was a train wreck coming, so be it, I was utterly unable to abandon the Captain of my heart. I awoke bright and early, resolved to jump that rope as fast as it lands in front of my feet, and if I fall, well, it couldn’t be much worse than sprawling on the asphalt of the playground back in gradeschool, could it? I could still be the winner, couldn’t I?!!

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