Thursday, December 24, 2009
December 24, Pyramids and Bad News
Cairo, one of the shop keepers we met today tried to sell us a beautiful wool rug for $2000 US dollars including shipping. I know that a rug this size and quality would sell for at least $4000 in the US, we know we bought a few when Gottschalk’s was going out of business this summer. He said he needed to sell something, no one was spending money and that Egypt is a country with a very rich past, the present is very poor and the future looks worse.
We had to learn "No, thank you" in Arabic really quickly, if you step in camel dung someone has wiped off your shoe and is asking for payment for the service before you even know you had stepped in it. You cannot step outside your hotel without being hustled for something.
We played tourists today and went to the Giza pyramids in the morning, and then to the step pyramid in Saqqara. The drive out to Saqqara was so beautiful, sadly I had left my sketchbook in the hotel, and I am agreeing with Anna Oneglia, a drawing would do so much better catching the spirit of things than my camera is doing. I have had no luck with posting photos to the bog, so for now if you want to see them you still have to go to my face book page.
Life is hard here; I have no idea what percentage of the people live below the poverty line and if there is a middle class at all. Our very nice driver Ahmed Moses thinks it is 80% below poverty, and the middle class which was always small is slipping into poverty.
The possibility of getting into Gaza went from not so good to really bad today. While Bill and I were out playing the March organizers were meeting trying to figure out what to do about Egypt’s heightened stance against the March. The foreign minister went on TV today and said that there would be no passage into Gaza. Going on TV was a bad thing, if they let us in now it will be losing face, so that was kind of a seal that we won’t get in. In addition, whenever more than 10 people gather together in Egypt you need a permit. The organizers got word today that their permit request was denied. Now they are scrambling trying to find a private citizen with a private space that will allow us to get together. I expect that there will be some press releases about the situation sent out soon from the Gaza Freedom March organizers. The tactic now will be to try and put enough pressure on the Egyptian government from world citizens to make it happen.
It would be really helpful if each of you called our 2 senators and told them that you support the Gaza Freedom March and that you would really like them to send a letter to the Egyptian government as soon as possible asking that the Egyptian government allow the peaceful marchers who want to go in with armloads of humanitarian aide into Gaza.
Peace, Love and Light to all of you on this Holy Night.