Friday, December 31, 2010

A dark night of the soul

There are these days of hollowness, you know? 

A day here, where everything falls down and down inside me and nothing reaches the bottom and I never fill up.

A day there, that seems magnified and concentrated, every minute an infinite vacuum, every word an assault, as if every grain of sand in the desert is rubbing off my top layer of skin and exposing the soul underneath. The skin a little peeled back.

You can tell when I have these days. Even if I didn't declare them, like I am now, you just have to look at my language, which becomes increasingly more florid as I search for ways to bring this feeling to life before you, so that you can glimpse, even briefly, the sheer futility I feel even trying to do so.

It's at times like this that I step outside myself and think: what am I doing? What am I doing here, 12,000 miles from home, from My One True Love, from the Sister Of My Heart, from my parents, my friends, the pussins? What on earth possessed me?

I know that for me, part of being an adventurer means balancing - and accepting - these days. That having the courage (or foolishness) to step off a cliff into the unknown means being prepared to face the ground rushing up at you.

I love stepping off into the unknown. I love it - the thrill, the excitement, the surge of feeling that I'm doing something amazing. And so these days are just as much part of me as the inner desire that sends me looking for that feeling.

So I continue.

I drag myself through them, knowing that tomorrow, or the day after, it'll be as if they never happened. And that in the remembering, it make the present sweeter.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve in the porno palace

Christmas Eve in the Porno Palace - menu:

  • Double vodka cocktails (2) - 1 with mangosteen juice (yum), 1 with diet coke (ugh), hic on both counts
  • Cadbury chocolate biscuits (73 - feels like)
  • Krispy Kreme christmas pudding donuts (1)
  • Project Runway episodes (2, courtesy of cable tv)
  • Educational tv documentaires (1, Michael Palin in Sahara, how appropriate)
  • Christmas carols (0)
  • Loved ones (0)
  • Pussins (0)
  • Presents (0)
  • Sighs of yearning (139)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Still sick. More photos.

Tourist tat by the seaside - but haven't I made it look good!

Very New-York-esque Alexandria taxi and street mosaic

Secondhand clothes for sale in the market

Smiley girl despite the piles of rubbish

More tourist tat

Inside Fort Qaitbey, originally the site of the Pharos lighthouse, one of the ancient 7 Wonders of the World

Gabled roof of bricks inside the fort

Outside the fort

Modern medicine in Egypt ... hmmm .....

For sale in the souq

Mirror mirror, on the wall ....

Souq street scene

Egyptian fashion - of sorts.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More pictures of Egypt

I have a cold today. Sniffle, sniffle, snort. I picked it up on the plane home from Alexandria (boo!).

So I offer you photos instead of words, as my brain is too fuzzy to write.

Fresh coffee beans at Sofianopoulos

Coffee bean close-up
Dancing harem girl motif

Coffee and .... nesquik

Roasting the beans - it was deafening in there!

Once the beans are roasted, they're round

Flower seller taking the thorns off the rose stems

Alexandrian equivalent of Bunnings

Trying to decide which shoes to buy

Market men pausing for a shisha

Freshly milled flour for sale

Old dude in old clothes

Local furniture shop - the alley!

Washing day near the catacombs

Streetside pool table

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The pussins of Alexandria

Alexandria is a cat's paradise. Warm for most of the year, strewn with rubbish and detritus to eat and play with, and plenty of hidey-holes to sleep in.

Walking along the Corniche on our first morning I was struck by the number of pussins sunning themselves on the rocks along the shore of the beach. Cats to the left of us, cats to the right of us, cats all round us.


I have NEVER in my life seen cats on the seashore before. Or near water like this. And we all know cats don't like water, but these babies didn't seem to mind at all - in fact they seemed to be relishing it.

I think it's partly because Alexandria is a fishing centre and port, so there must be lots of fishy scraps and goodies around to eat. If you're going to be a feral cat - and if not feral, then definitely not "owned" by anyone, or cared for in any way - then a fishing port is probably the best place you could be. 

 Certainly, the cats by the seaside were in much better condition than the ones in the centre of the city. Glossy, sleek, well muscled - they were in fine fettle.

They all had lovely sunny spots to sleep in.

Some of them were more camera shy than others.

But mostly, they looked pretty pleased with their lot.

I think the White Witch reckons I'm mad ... these photos are less than half of the ones I actually took ...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Picturing Egypt

One of the few remaining pieces of ancient statuary, now outside the Alexandria Blibliotheque
In the backalley souq

Fishing boat, in the Mediterranean Sea
Seaside pussins
They don't look it, but these boys were actually very nice and friendly

pegs for sale in the souq

View of Alexandria from the Corniche

Friday, December 17, 2010

Well Alexandria, things are looking up

Ugh. I'm glad we left.
 We weren't really enjoying the Hotel Acropole last night ... and this morning, I'm not sure whether the last straw was the unflushed putrescent mess that greeted me in the communal toilet, or the revolting pools of water and hair all over the tiled floor of the bathroom.

Either way, we took an immediate decision to bail on our booking and shift hotels. Luckily for us, right across the road was the Hotel Triomphe - and this time, we asked specifically for a room with an ensuite bathroom; AND, we asked to see it before we signed up. 

Room viewed and approved, we ran back across the road, collected our bags, vanished down the four flights of stairs (avoiding the death-trap of a lift, see the photos below), and promptly checked ourselves into the Triomphe. It's very Agatha Christie here, with wrought ironwork and shabby furniture and lovely ancient cracked marble floors and derelict bits of art deco architecture and two very nice old men who look after it. We are much happier.

Exhibit A: death trap.
Exhibit B: deaaaaaath traaaaaap!
 In fact, today we are much happier all around - it's been spectacular. Once the hotel was sorted out, we started things off with this - a Turkish coffee so thick you could practically have stood a spoon up in it. Now that's more like it.

More to come tomorrow. But now, it's time for beer.