Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Eid everyone

Just want to wish all the readers a Happy Feast, or Kolo Sana Wentou Tayyebin as we would say in Arabic. I'm loving having a few little havens in Hurghada that nobody else really seems to know about right now, and enjoy the full extent of a few days relaxed work without dealing with the crowds.

I've been asked to try baking the Egyptian cookies Kahk. That should be interesting, although I hear it's not quite Eid without these butter cookies. :D

Happy Eid!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Easy Tortilla Wrap Recipe

It's always nice to find a nice and easy recipe to throw together a quick meal. I love tortilla wraps, but you really cannot find them here unless you are willing to pay 50 times the price because they are imported (and that's assuming you can even find them!) :p And I won't do ready make package stuff, I don't know what's put in there, so why would I put that into my body?

I went on the search yesterday for an easy wrap recipe. It seems everyone has their own unique touch added to it, so I took the best of all the recipes I found, and made my own. Guess what, they were delicious. We've already decided we're doing Mexican night this week now, and with how easy this recipe is, who wouldn't want to do the same.

Here's what you'll need: 

2 cups flour (yesterday I used fine all purpose, for the next ones I'll use whole wheat flour)
2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt 
3/4 cup warm milk

To make the wraps: 

Combine all your ingredients above into a large mixing bowl
Knead together until you have a firm dough (about 5-6 minutes) 
Separate into 8 equally sized pieces
Roll each piece into a ball
Cover for 20 minutes 

Kneading the dough
Once you've let your dough balls sit for about 20 minutes, on a lightly floured surface roll them out into thin tortillas. While you're rolling your first one out, let a non-stick pan heat up. It must be as hot as possible. If you don't have a non-stick pan, lightly coat with cooking spray, however, as I used the non-stick pan I cannot attest for how well your tortillas will turn out. 

Gently place your first tortilla into your hot pan. Let it cook until you see bubbles rising. This should not take more than 30 seconds. Flip your tortilla and cook on the other side for another 15-20 seconds. 
The finished product 

Et voila :) Last night, we made our own quesadillas and sausage rolls. They were delicious. Up next week: Suz styled enchilladas with home made tortillas. 

Filling the tortillas

Bon Appetit! 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Countdown to the Cove

Many who know me are aware that I am absolutely enamoured with dolphins. To the point that I will make you stop the car so I can try and take a picture of them swimming, and squeal excitedly whenever I see a pod. I don't remember when my love for the animals first started, but I do remember the day that my heart broke for the dolphins.

I am an avid proponent of boycotting dolphinariums and such similar programmes. Dolphins do not belong in a pool, they belong in the sea. Animals of such intelligence simply do not do well in what is essentially the equivalent of us living in a room full of mirrors. I've written a few blogs about the dolphinarium in Hurghada (here and here), and what started me on my path to awareness of the plight of dolphins was a powerful documentary 'The Cove.' Watch online for free here.
Where the dolphins belong - in the wild

It's that time of year again, the time of year where countless numbers of dolphins are rounded up and brutally slaughtered in Taiji, Japan. A campaign has been launched on Facebook by animal rights activists around the world, yet there are a meagre 2,400 in attendance. Have we all forgotten? Must The Cove replay every year to incite a few months of outrage, then be allowed to happen again. Have you, Hurghada, forgotten that four of your "beloved dolphinarium" dolphins were brought here as a result of this slaughter? Please, do your part, and share this event and maybe together we can hope to save some innocent lives this September.

Countdown to the Cove:

Around the world, September signals the start of school...yellow school buses, children with new sneakers, lunch boxes and sharpened pencils...

In the small coastal town of Taiji, Japan, September signals the start of something sinister... The annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins.

For the first time ever, in 2010 -2011, Cove Guardian Activists from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Save Japan Dolphins were in Taiji every single day of the dolphin slaughter, which ran from September to March...yet the tragedy continues...

The activists witnessed day after day, week after week, month after month, as pods of dolphins were hunted and driven into the Cove by fishermen using high-tech gear. Terrified and exhausted, the dolphins were systematically and brutally bludgeoned to death. Dolphin calves swam in their mothers' blood. By the end of the 2010-2011 "drive hunt" season, 850 dolphins were killed in the Cove. Another 171 were sold into captivity after witnessing the murder of their families.

Had they attempted to intervene, the Cove Guardians would have faced jail or deportation, neither of which would have benefitted the cause of raising awareness about the Taiji dolphin slaughter. Instead they harnessed the power of social media and reported the devastation in the Cove to activists all over the world in real time. In turn, these activists made thousands of calls, sent thousands of emails and faxes, and organized protests at Japanese Embassies across the world.

The presence of the Cove Guardians was felt - our voices were heard. The brutal killers of the Taiji Fisheries Union struggled to conceal their savagery behind blue tarps, but they were not successful. The world bore witness to the senseless killing of some of natures most beautiful and intelligent creatures.

Working with the Cove Guardians over a five day period in December, the facebook community Save Misty The Dolphin was able to help secure better captive conditions for a very sick dolphin named Misty, who had been left to die in a backyard pool. Suffering from a lung infection, Misty floated listlessly in blackened water until a non-stop calling campaign forced his captors at Dolphin Base Resort to move the animal to a clean pool and provide better veterinary care for him.

As the Countdown to the Cove is underway, we ask you to make a commitment to the vulnerable dolphins of Taiji. Please do what you can on this list to help stop the slaughter:

1. Watch The Cove Documentary and share it with at least one friend

2. Take ACTION - Every time there are dolphins in the Cove, thousands, if not millions, of people all over the world are needed to call, e-mail, and fax Taiji and the Japanese Embassies. Please use our Taiji Urgent Contact List:

3. Please sign and share our petition:

4. Participate in a protest outside of your Japanese Embassy on September 1st
We have created a separate facebook event: International Day of Protest for the Dolphins of Taiji. Please sign up for the event at

5. Consider volunteering as a Cove Guardian through Sea Shepherd Conservation Society or Save Japan Dolphins

6. Support the Cove Guardian Campaigns of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society or Save Japan Dolphins with a tax deductible gift


Throughout the Taiji Dolphin Slaughter Season, The Save Misty the Dolphin community will bring you daily facebook updates directly from the Cove Guardians - along with specific ways YOU can help. PLEASE become a part of our facebook community and also join our facebook event COUNTDOWN TO THE COVE. The dolphins need you now!

Thank you.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A taste of Egypt: Konafa!

As promised, here is a recipe for a Ramadan dish; Konafa. Warning: if you are on a diet don't attempt to eat this stuff. :)

Konafa is a traditional Ramadan dish, although it is eaten year round. It can be served hot or cold, and with a variety of fillings and toppings. I found a recipe online for a cream cheese filling here (although I have never had one with cream cheese inside).

Image from Easy Recipes

The recipe below comes with the assumption that you will be able to readily find Middle Eastern ingredients. Fear not, if you cannot find katteyef (or ready made Konafa pastry) you can substitute with fine vermicelli.

Sweet Syrup ingredients:

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Lemon juice
  • Vanilla

Konafa ingredients:
  • ½ Kilo Konafa pastry
  • 1 cup butter
  • Nuts
  • Coconut
  • Raisins
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Sweet Syrup Directions:
  1. Dissolve the sugar in water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add lemon juice and vanilla then bring to boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and let it slowly boil for 8-10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and put it aside.

Konafa Directions:

  1. Cut the Konafa into smaller pieces.
  2. Heat the butter, add Konafa and mix.
  3. Grease baking dish and add have of the Konafa mixture with butter.
  4. Mince the nuts with a little bit of sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it all over the Konafah.
  5. Add the rest of the Konafa over and compress with your hand to make sure it is holding well.
  6. Put in the oven until the top is golden.
  7. Pour the syrup on and the raisins on top.
Voila! Bil Hana Wa Shiva. 

For that extra authentic Egyptian taste, add some Eshta (Cream) on top of the Konafa and you have a sinfully delicious treat.

Update on Peggy and Soraya

My post entitled 'Child Abduction Warning' detailed the case of Peggy and Soraya, a German mother who had her daughter kidnapped from her here in Egypt. This blog has garnered a great deal of attention, and I can now provide an update, albeit brief, on how the situation has developed.

In the last blog, I had mentioned how the next step for Peggy would be to get a lawyer. The lawyer that she had originally been working with (who might I add is also on the list of lawyer's recommended by the German Embassy) took from Peggy 30,000 Euro, yet provided no credible leads or steps forward in her case.

Urged by the help of people online, Peggy was able to connect with a female lawyer in Egypt who is well known for her work with the custodial battle of Ahmed al-Fishawy.

Fishawy is an Egyptian actor who in 2006 went down in history in the Egyptian courts. Fishawy got caught up in a romance with costume designer Hend el-Hinnawy, and allegedly married her through an Urfi contract. Urfi contracts enable a man and woman to have sexual relations in Egypt, as it is a non-official common-law "marriage", a hotly contested subject in Egyptian culture. Fishawy impregnated Hinnawy during their courtship, and promptly turned around and denied paternity of the child. Hinnawy proved that she was a fighter, and brought the case all the way into the courtrooms, and made history in doing so. Hinnawy's lawyer, Mamdouh el Weseimy, filed a paternity suit against Fishawy, which ultimately led to proving that he was in fact the father of the child that he had so vehemently denied. From that moment on, DNA testing in a paternity suit was considered admissible evidence in an Egyptian courtroom.

So how does this story relate to Peggy?

Only in that an associate of the same lawyer who worked with Hinnawy is now working on Peggy's case. She has recommended that Peggy will have to stay in Egypt if she plans to prove legal custody of Soraya, and the process has already begun. Sources have told me, although this remains unconfirmed, that Peggy may first have to return to Germany to raise enough money to pay for all the legal proceedings, but at least we now know that the wheels have been set in motion.

I will post any updates as I receive them. Let's hope for now that Peggy may actually really be able to see light at the end of the tunnel.

For more reading on the case of Ahmed el-Fishawy see the following links:

Stunning Revelation

Hennawi vs. Fishawy: The Final Chapter? 

Egypt's grand mufti allows controversial marriage

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Norway impressions

This month has just flown by. I feel awkward posting this so long after my return, but it really does warrant a posting on its own.

I went to Norway not long after the tragic attacks carried out by Anders Breivik, a 32 year old disillusioned Norwegian "right-winger." The attacks and resulting death toll dominated the media, with many outlets alluding to it as "Europe's 9/11." I'm not quite sure what I was expecting to see in Norway, but I can say I was expecting to see heightened security, tension levels, and nerves among the Norwegians themselves.

Instead what I found was the total opposite. I have to say, that out of the many Europeans that I have met throughout my life, the Norwegians rank right up there as some of the nicest people you can meet. Everyone was ready to greet you with a smile wherever you went, and despite my complete lack of any Norwegian everyone was more than willing to lend a hand.

My sister and I spent quite a while in one supermarket giggling ourselves silly as we tried to decipher different flavours of crisps. With our best Swedish chef imitations we were trying to accentuate and stress various syllables to see if we could will our minds into understanding. "Friske Urter" came up with all sorts of possible definitions, until we finally decided it must be fresh butter. (we were wrong, it's actually fresh herbs :p) I'm sure that we left one or two Norwegians walking away shaking their heads thinking "bloody tourists!!"

Another striking thing about Norway is how green everything is. I felt like I'd been uprooted from the desert and planted into the middle of a Sound of Music set. My oooohs and aaahhs with how green it was also set me aside as evident TOURIST. So nice to fill that role every once in a while :).

Yes, I flew this bad boy
Perhaps one of the coolest things I have done recently was fly in my Dad's Cesna plane, even managing to grab the controls myself. Apparently my attention span cannot handle trying to avoid a rain cloud and maintain level with the horizon at the same time. As I encroached upon Gardermoen airspace I reluctantly admitted defeat when it came to actually flying the plane. But still an amazing experience, and allowed me to get some fantastic shots of Oslo from the air. Being used to Cairo, I was astounded to find out that Oslo has a population of 600,000. Compare that to the 18 million population of Cairo!

Anyhow, overall impressions is that Norway is definitely a country I would recommend visiting (however watch your pocket book, one loaf of bread I saw on sale cost 20 Norwegian Krone - or 20 LE (just under 4 US $). We were very lucky and had glorious weather the whole time, minus one cracking thunderstorm which I wouldn't say no to, I certainly miss the rain living here. Norwegians are exceptionally friendly, everyone has something nice to say, and everything felt so fresh and clean! Oh, and for all the American's who think that your country leads the way in coffee consumption, you've got nothing on the Norwegians!!!

Here are some of the pictures I was able to grab of the gorgeous countryside and city of Oslo. Enjoy!



The Royal Palace in Oslo 

Oslo is surrounded by fresh water and sea water

The rain cloud that I admitted defeat to! 

My sister the co-pilot :D

So much colour!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

3 activists summoned by the SCAF

It's been a few days since I've updated my blog, and I do have quite a few postings ready! (including some deliciously bad for you Ramadan treats). For now, I wanted to re-post this story from Bikya Masr. The article discusses the case of three activists who are being summoned into a hearing by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I do not agree with a military trial for any civilian personnel.

The article states that the SCAF alleges one of the activists being summoned, a young woman, “went over the limits of criticism to slander and incitement” and alleged that she called for the assassination of a SCAF member in comments she published on her personal Twitter and Facebook accounts."

Again, I do not support military trials of civilians, but I do support people being made face the consequences of their actions. If in the US for example you were to post on your Twitter or Facebook pages that you wished any high ranking political officer were to be assassinated, particularly in light of the political atmosphere in Egypt as of late, what do you think would happen? Would you be left alone? Of course not.

I'd love to hear your comments on this article, posted below for you to read. Personally I have issues with many of the articles published in Bikya Masr, either due to ridiculous English editing, outrageous claims, or just downright slanderous writing, however this article bears mentioning as military trials should be restricted to military personnel only!

CAIRO: Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has summoned three more human rights activists for investigation on Tuesday. Bassem Samir, Hossam Ali and Ahmed Ghoneim, who work for the Egyptian Democratic Academy, will be investigated on Thursday.
The reason behind the summoning is not yet clear, however the SCAF has already summoned two other rights activists this week for investigation, in an apparent crackdown.
The SCAF is now Egypt’s ruling authority during the transitional period that began with the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak on February 11 after 18 days of protests in the country.
Asmaa Mahfouz, who was released on a 20,000 Egyptian pound bail and accused of “incitement against the SCAF” is now to face a military trial, according to the state-run MENA news agency.
Military court rulings are final and cannot be appealed.
Many activists have expressed their anger and condemnation at trying civilians in front of military courts. Tens of Mahfouz’s supporters protested outside the military prosecutor’s office holding signs that read “no for military trials” and chanted anti-SCAF slogans.
The SCAF said the young woman “went over the limits of criticism to slander and incitement” and alleged that she called for the assassination of a SCAF member in comments she published on her personal Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Mahfouz and her lawyer strongly denied the accusations and said that the criticism was directed at the SCAF as a “presidential ruling authority and not for its role as a military.”
The second activist summoned this week was Maha Abou Bakr, a leading member of the Kefaya (Enough) movement. She was released shortly after due to a “mistaken identity.”
SCAF thought Abou Bakr was someone else from a video from the Abassya march that saw one person die and dozens injured when pro-change demonstrations marched on the military’s headquarters and were attacked by local residents in July.
Abou Bakr was released, but the move drew criticism and sarcasm from many activists who called for protests denouncing the SCAF decision to go after activists.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tips for Ramadan driving

With Ramadan nearing the end of its second week, cracks are beginning to show in the resolve of those fasting. With this summer heat, it's not surprising that more people are struggling this year, and accordingly tempers are more quick to fray.

This can be most evident when driving around, particularly in Cairo. Driving in Cairo on a normal day is a hair raising experience. If you've ever played the game "Need for Speed," you've got an estimation of what driving in Cairo is like. [Side note - the new Need for Speed game actually has a track in Cairo for you to drive. Classic!]

Cairo driving in Ramadan increases these levels almost ten fold particularly closer to the time that the sun sets. Here are a few valuable tips that will help ensure your safety and the safety of those around you if you end up driving around Egypt during Ramadan.

1. Remember that you are not fasting. You need to be more patient with those around you. In this heat, it's not the food, but the water that really causes physical strain. If someone looks like they are trying to pick a fight or shouting at you, no matter how difficult it may be, let it go. Patience is a virtue, even more so when you are accommodating for people who are fasting.

2. If at all possible, avoid the roads from around one hour before sunset. At this time, people will be driving break neck speeds to make it home in time to break the fast. All usual driving rules go out the window at this point.

3. Expect the unexpected. This is not an unusual recommendation for people driving in Egypt. But I'm not joking when I say that the "unexpected" at normal times of the year is nothing compared to what I've seen Ramadan drivers do. Just the other day when I was out driving, I was seeing micro busses stopped in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. Driving past, the drivers of these busses would be sat with a quizzical look on their faces wondering why and where they were. The toll of fasting showing through the cracks.

4. Especially true for Cairo: driving right after people break their fast is one of the best and safest times to be on the roads. As everyone is inside breaking their fasts, the roads are empty! Finally it becomes evident that it really should only take 10 - 15 minutes from the center of downtown to reach Maadi :p

5. If you use a driver or a regular cab and expect to be out and about during iftar, bring the driver something with you. I would bring my driver dates, water, and maybe a small sandwich if I knew we'd be at the stables when the fast broke. Of course he used to partake in the meals served up by the stable boys, but this little act can mean the world to someone.

If you can stick to these tips for driving during Ramadan, you will find the experience overall less stressful, and perhaps gain a little bit more insight into Egyptian living.

Ramadan Kareem!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Child Abduction Warning

Meet Soraya. This is one of the last photos her mother has received after Soraya's father allegedly kidnapped her on May 10, 2011.

Soraya's mother, Peggy Dierich, tells the story of her daughter's kidnapping and the years that led up to this tumultuous event in her life.

Peggy first met Soraya's father, Mahmood Gaber, online in 2008. Their Internet communications grew into a romance, and Peggy agreed that it was time her and Mahmood meet in person. In 2009, Peggy left Germany and headed for Alexandria, Egypt, where she was to meet Mahmood for the first time and spend two weeks with him.

For many women living in Egypt, particularly those who live in touristic areas such as Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, what transpired next is not an altogether unusual story.

Peggy and Mahmood found themselves caught up in a whirlwind romance, and what was eventually meant to be a two week stay became a one-year period. During this time, Peggy got pregnant.

The details surrounding what happened next are a little hazy, Peggy was quoted as saying that she left because "it was not safe for an unmarried woman to be pregnant in Alexandria," whereas other sources claim the reason she left was that Mahmood was conscripted into the Army. Although the details as to why she left do matter, they are inconsequential to the grand scale of the story at hand here.

After leaving Egypt and returning to her home country Germany, Peggy gave birth to a daughter, Soraya, in January of 2010. Being born to a German parent ensured that Soraya was automatically a German citizen. Initially Mahmood expressed no interest in being a father.

Fastforward to 2011, Peggy was contacted and told that Mahmood was seeking a visa to come and visit his daughter in Germany. The visa process would have required that Peggy sponsor him during his stay, and would be responsible for him. It was a risk she did not want to take, so after a few phone calls it was decided that she would instead go to Egypt to visit Mahmood.

The initial plan was set. Peggy and Soraya would fly into Cairo on May 10, spend a day or two in Cairo, then fly onwards to the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to spend some time with Mahmood. He was even the one who had sent them the flight tickets.

"I had no reason not to trust him," Peggy says online. "It would be the first time for him to see his child."

Soraya and her mother were picked up from the airport on May 10, and were taken to where they were allegedly meant to stay in a hotel for the night. While Peggy was around the back end of the car to get her belongings, Mahmood jumped into the drivers seat and sped off with Soraya in the car, leaving her mother in the street with nothing more than the clothes on her back and her handbag.

After losing sight of the car, Peggy immediately went to the police station to report the crime. She notified the German embassy that her daughter, a German citizen, had been kidnapped.

Mahmood is originally from Alexandria. Police there conducted search raids in his home and a few areas around his home neighbourhood. They found no trace of Soraya.

Peggy has since been desperately searching for her child. Mahmood has intermittently been communicating with her via email, taunting her that "she will never see her child again," but that she can "contact him every Friday to find out if she is ok."

The below picture is one of the recent shots sent to Peggy. Initial reports indicate that this might be in the area of Marsa Matruh, to the west of Alexandria. If you know where this is, please contact me immediately.

Although Soraya's story is a tragic one, there is a valuable lesson to be learned from this. Soraya's story is not the first of its kind in Egypt, whereby a foreign woman falls in love with a local Egyptian man and is swept off of her feet in a Hollywood-esque love story.

That fantasy rarely lasts. The ratio of relationships that actually do work in crossing the cultural divide are few and far between.

It should also be noted that in Egypt, in cases of disputed custody over a child the law almost always favors the father. Thus, in the eyes of many Egyptians, Soraya was not in fact kidnapped, her father was merely assuming his custodial rights. Countless stories of women who have brought their children to visit their fathers in Egypt and end up with an alleged kidnapping exist.

I hope that Peggy and Soraya are reunited. I hope that the power of people on the Internet will effect change. And I hope that this story will serve as a reminder for women in the future that if you do "trust" your partner and plan to return to visit with the child, that you have all your back-up plans in place.

Peggy will now have to seek the services of a lawyer, who will face an uphill battle in proving that the mother should be given legal responsibility of the child. If Peggy were to merely show up and take Soraya with her, she may end up with an entirely new scope of problems to deal with as under Egyptian law, she would then have kidnapped her daughter from the father.

Please, share and post this story. If you have any information that may lead to the whereabouts of Soraya, post here or contact me.

For more information on Soraya's case, you can see here: (Links are in German)

Berlin Online

Bild [1]

Bild [2]

For an UPDATE to this story, please click here!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

End the San Bernabe Slaughterhouse

I was sent this page by a fellow animal rights activist, and although it is not in Egypt, the stories and images that I saw were so heartbreaking I have to share.

I have often thought that signing petitions was a useless endeavour, and would simply sign my name without any real belief that something would come of it. Two things have recently changed my mind about that: Number one, a petition and campaign that was launched against a show currently being aired here during Ramadan (details will follow in a later blog). Number 2, animal activists who have been actively involved in the Taiji dolphins will know that the power of petitions, combined with their stunning documentary "The Cove", has brought the dolphin plight to the forefront of global media. 

Any horse lover will be devastated to see the pictures on this site. **WARNING, GRAPHIC PICTURES** Any animal lover will be pushed to sign this petition

Let me give you a brief background. San Bernabe is a well known slaughterhouse in Mexico and has been in operation for the past 70 years. Here you will frequently see not only horses, but mules, donkeys, cattle, and other assorted wildlife on display and being used and abused. The story detailed on the link above talks of a horse that was forced to walk on a broken foot (and seeing the image, it is very evidently broken), to be led off to its death. Another incident talks of a pregnant mare forced to jump down from a 1 metre ramp, subsequently landing on her knees with a resonant crack, and left there to perish. Don't even get me started on the brutal way that these animals are slaughtered. I don't know if "bashed over the head with a hammer", and "humane" can even be used in the same paragraph, let alone sentence!

Animal rights campaigners have long been trying to put an end to this slaughterhouse. It is about time that we harness the power of the global communications tool that is the Internet, and spread the stories of these horses far and wide. 

There is hope, that if we garner enough attention and pressure, that the Mexican authorities will have no choice but to shut down this slaughterhouse in the face of international condemnation. 

Animals deserve compassion and rights too. Who are we to knowingly, to even willingly, impose such suffering. Please, sign and share. 

For more information on the San Bernabe slaughterhouse, see the following references: 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Only in Egypt

Everyone in need of a morning laugh will enjoy this.

I woke up this morning to hearing construction workers across the street from us. How pissed off must those tenants be! Just moving into a new apartment, only within a month having a new storey put in above you. (been there, done that...thanks not again) :p

Anyhow, for your viewing pleasure, this is Building Construction 101, as only seen in Egypt!

Scaffolding across the road...

I'm sure this was much more cost-effective
Yes....yes they did. Rather than erect the scaffolding properly, they have DRILLED through the apartment next to them and stuck the wood through! HAHA!

That looks safe!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ramadan and power outages

First and foremost, seeing as how I have not had the chance to update my blog recently, I would like to wish everyone a Ramadan Kareem. I hope that this month brings you peace, even for non-Muslims reading this. I will be updating my blog throughout the month with a few Ramadan inspired threads, including a few traditional recipes simplified for all non-Egyptians to cook without hassle! Last Ramadan, I explored parts of Cairo through the eyes of a fasting Muslim; I hope to do the same this Ramadan in Hurghada.

That being said, on to tonight's blog. The power outages. >.<

I was already less than enthusiastic to return to the hot Egyptian summer, even less so when upon our arrival back to Hurghada we immediately start having serious problems with our electricity.

Photographed by Reuters

Living in Egypt, electrical outages are a norm. But they are usually resolved after 30 minutes or so later, with the occasional power outage lasting an hour or more - usually caused by idiots at the bottom of our road doing road works and "accidentally" cutting the electrical wires. I'm fairly convinced that Hurghada does not have any layout of the electrical grids and their lines, let alone the internet wires and their respective locations. Anyhow, I digress.

Today marked one of the worst power outages we've seen in Hurghada in a while. Made only worse by the two power outages last night, both conveniently falling around Iftar. This to add to the 1.5 hour power outage yesterday afternoon, and I'm thinking what the hell is going on?

Today, we lost power around 10 a.m. Let me remind you, with it being Friday most everyone is at home. With it being August, the temperatures are soaring to 42 degrees. Combine that with people who are fasting, and it becomes virtually impossible to survive the day without at least a fan, if not AC.

Our power was returned to us today, after a few brief pops, at close to 4 p.m. That's right, in the heat of the summer, and in the beginning of Ramadan to boot, combined with roughly 3 hours of power outages yesterday, we lost power for close to 6 hours!!! Turns out that one of the MAIN power lines leading into Hurghada was cut today by...get oil rig, roughly 60 km away from Hurghada near Safaga. Why does this not surprise me.

With it being Friday, of course the central electrical office was closed. By about 1:30 p.m. outside my house, as people were trickling back from their Friday prayers, you could tell tempers were flaring. I assume most people weren't up at 10 a.m. on a Friday in Ramadan, so therefore did not realise just how long the power was out, and presumed upon returning from prayers it would be back.  

My next question is, how many fridges full of food were spoiled today. I barely opened the fridge, leading K to call me the fridge nazi, but I am NOT about to let over 100 dollars of fresh groceries spoil because some genius cut the main power wire. Eechs. So my area in Hurghada joined a number of others without power.

Evidently it is not Hurghada that is experiencing power shortages, as Al-Masry Al-Yawm points out. I have previously written a blog about the increased strain on Egypt's power grid during the summer, as more and more people are installing ACs into their homes.

It's not surprising we're seeing these power outages. The Electricity Ministry should be ashamed of themselves for allowing such shortages to happen during the one time of year where everybody needs all the help they can get to survive fasting in this heat. It's time to man up, and begin improving the badly plagued electrical circuits in Egypt, before providing power becomes nigh on impossible. One can dream right?