Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Been wondering why....

....you have all seen me stuffing myself with Mexican food and good ol' Austin food?

Read this article. This is Norwegian food. Arg.

I go back on Thursday. Two more days to gorge......


Sunday, September 26, 2004

Reason # 2567 why I love Austin...

....conversation participated in at Silly's Bar, the new neighborhood bar at the corner of Mancock and Durnet streets. (Note, names have been changed to protect the innocent. Or whatever.)

At the table sat Late, Meff, Darla and Farla.

Late: So what are you guys doing Sunday?

Farla: Me and a friend are going to visit some taxidermy shops. She doesn't know where any are. Do you know any good ones?

Meff: Cool! What did she kill?

Darla: (spits beer out her nose while laughing) Gug!!

Late, Meff, and Farla stare at Darla, like, "What's so funny?"

Only in Austin do you have conversations like this. I love it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Home Sweet Home

I am in Austin right now, and can I tell you how FREAKING GREAT it is to be back home?

In case you are taking it for granted, living here, let me remind you:

Austin is the Best Damn Town in the World.

A few reasons why:
I got up this morning and and went and got my coffee, which there are three different coffeehouses within walking distance of the house. ( God I love our house. I just think it is perfect. And Marla has kept it up so well, it just looks phenomenal.)

Then I went to the gas station, once again near the house, where the nicest guy checked the oil on the funky old VW I have borrowed from my brother. I scheduled a massage for tomorrow morning for me and Jennifer. (I haven't seen her in 7 months, I am actually a bit nervous about seeing her, why is that? It's not like she's not one of my dearest soulmate friends, or that we will even come close to having a lack of things to talk about. I think I am just nervous that I have lost my conversational and "relating" skills. So much has happened since we last saw each other!) After that I did some shopping, went to Central Market, noodled around a bookstore, and bought the perfect pair of jeans at the Gap. (When did their stuff start fitting so well?) Shopping nirvana, people! Shopping nirvana. The Gap has finally made room for asses in their pants. Glory hallelujah!

Then I had my slacker time at the Flight Path coffee house, where I just sat grinning maniacally as I was so DAMN happy to be there. Just sitting there, reading the paper, Austin people surrounding me, as I munched on my bagel and looked at the art and the folks in the place. God it was heavenly.

Now I am at the library where I finally managed to get onto a computer after a 45 minute wait, though the time was well spent reading trashy magazines and listening to the old guy sitting next to me who kept farting and trying to pretend like it was his seat squeaking. (Yeah, right, buddy, that shifting to the left you kept doing totally gave you away.) I knew what he was up to....

All this travel I have been doing has definitely made some changes in me. I have to admit, I no longer give a flying fuck what people think of me. I used to worry about looking right, or fitting in, or belonging to the right crowd. None of that matters anymore. Now I am just happy to be, and to see, and to enjoy the small things and spend time with the folks I enjoy spending time with. Life is too short to waste it worrying about anything other than getting the most out of your time on this earth.

But I am glad my butt looks good in the jeans I just bought!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Some photos from our trip to Egypt.

Following are some selected and representative images from our trip (was it just last week?) to Egypt. All these were taken by Rich, on his digital camera. I will get mine developed when I get time and money, and will then post some more. In the meantime, enjoy prease!

Me in a ray of desert sunlight at the Temple of Horus in Edfu.

I quickly learned that wearing a hat is a necessity not only to keep you cool but also to ward off the relentless sun (I managed to avoid burning my nose by using spf 40 sunscreen religiously and using the hat, hat hair be damned), and wearing anything other than sand or dirt colors is an exercise in excessive laundry, as everything gets dusty in minutes. Also, long sleeves are somehow cooler than none, and long baggy clothes are WAY more comfortable than anything in the least bit confining.
Hence, you will mostly see me wearing the same outfit (and not, GASP, my usual black) of flax colored CP Shades linen. I knew buying all that CP Shades stuff was a good investment!

The Temple of Horus at Edfu ended up being my favorite site visited on the trip. It had been buried in sand for aeons, and only rediscovered around the Napolenic era, and so it is beautifully preserved. It is huge, but not as huge and overwhelming as Karnak. There is a lot of color left on the walls and there are lots of dark, secret passages to explore. I could really envisage it as it was built. It is tremendous.

Me looking dubiously and slightly fearfully at the camel. "You want I should get on THAT?"

Camels are all legs, by the way. They look small on the ground, but when you get on them, your ass is above the heads of the folks walking next to you. It's a very wierd perspective, being so tall and riding on what basically amounts to a thin padding of blanket placed over the BONIEST damn creature in the UNIVERSE.

Which leads me to my next comment:

Riding camels is SO NOT comfortable. No only are they bony, but there is nothing holding you on it, no stirrups or anything, just the muscles of your inner thighs. You know that song "Walk Like an Egyptian"? Yeah, I walked like an Egyptian for about two days after this one hour camel ride. We all compared notes on our cases of camel's ass on the boat afterwards. Lots of people walking funny after that trip! Mine was made exponentially more uncomfortable by the fact that I had a fairly lobster-like case of sunburn on, yep, my ass.
Small bikini + Egyptian sun = Lobster Butt. Lobster Butt + Camel Ride = OUCH.

Me on the camel.

That's not a smile on my face, that's a grimace. Note the same level of my ass and the "driver's" head.

Camels might look kind of cute, but trust me, they ain't. They smell, they fart, they spit and they make noises that are very reminiscent of an angry Chewbacca with a smoker's cough. Even with all that, I totally enjoyed the experience and would do it again. However, I would wear padded shorts. And close toed shoes...camel shit is not a good paving material.

The temple at Karnak, Luxor, Egypt.

The scale of the temples in Egypt is unbelievable. See how tiny the people are? It is IMMENSE. This picture was taken in the hypostyle hall....over 130 of these columns held up the massive roof. The striped bit, center middle, was a window built to let in some light. That window is about 20 feet tall!

Me in the hypostyle hall at Karnak. Are we getting a sense of the scale here?

Me in front of one of the smaller statues at Abu Simbel. We were within 25 miles of the Sudanese border.

Rich on a hill over looking Abu Simbel, south of the Aswan Dam.
The perspective is deceptive as those statues are over 50 feet tall and are way behind him...... the hill he is on also blocks the 5 1/2 million people milling about below.
To get to Abu Simbel from Aswan, where our boat was moored, required us getting a wake up call at 2:30 AM to enable us to join the bus convoy at 4AM. Tourist buses must travel in convoy on the freeways of Egypt for security reasons. So, at 4AM we made our way across the Sahara to Abu Simbel. There were 50 busses in the convoy, we all landed at once at dawn (around 7-ish.). It was a veritable horde of tourists. It did kind of take away some of the majesty and reverie of the sunrise on Lake Nasser to compete with 5000 tourists all intent on getting the same picture at the same time. Sometimes I felt as if I had never left Europe, merely brought all the other tourists with me to somewhere hot and sandy.
Still, though, pushy Italians and sunburned Nordic types notwithstanding, the temples we saw are all so big, so grandly scaled, that it really does not matter how many people you wedge in there, they all manage to fit. And if you are lucky, you CAN get that picture that gives the illusion of solitary grandeur and individualistic exploration.

View down a market street in Luxor. The driver of our caleche was hitting us up for "baksheesh" the whole time. Baksheesh, or tips, is the grease of every wheel in Egypt. EVERYONE asks you for it, whether they did you a service or not. They always use the excuse of having four children and some sort of family trouble to make you feel sorry for them and give them more. The strange thing is, once you give them baksheesh, they don't seem very happy or satisfied, but commence asking for more. I quit giving it except for extraordinary service rendered. They rarely say thank you when you do give it, just seem disappointed.

My favorite baksheesh-giving-opportunity has got to be the the ubiquitous bathroom man. Public toilet managers in Egypt apparently think that toilet paper is worth more than actual money-paper. When you walk up to the toilet door, the bathroom man gives you a meagre 3-5 sheets of toilet paper with a flourish, then shows you into an odiferous stall that does not flush and that glows with the green noxious vapors of thousands of previous patrons, all affected with King Tut's Revenge stomach aches. After you gingerly hover over god only knows what and exit the stall, Toilet Man then uses a bucket of water to flush as the levers on the toilets NEVER work. For this you get to tip him, after washing your hands with water from a bottle next to what I think is generally referred to as a sink, but I think "bucket" would be a better term. We carried handy wipes every where we went, and eventually started carrying a roll of TP too.

Cruise boats in front of the temple to the crocodile god Sobek at Kom Ombo, sunset.

We toured this temple at night. I also bought a traditional Bedouin woman's costume here. I bargained so long and hard for it that I got back to the boat late and they almost left me!

Nile Sunset Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I'm baaaa-aacck!

We're back from Egypt.

It was incredible. Simply, mind numbingly, unbelievably in-fucking-credible.

Rich will download his pictures from his camera onto my computer tonight ( I hope) and I will post some tomorrow.

I took about 8-9 rolls myself, will have them developed in the next month (travel plans prevent me from doing it now.)

It was really hot there, I mean REALLY hot, and I was dreading coming back to cold weather here. Luckily, it is gorgeous here in Norway, for which I am thankful. I really enjoyed being in hot weather again.

I also never expected the Nile would be as beautiful as it actually is. I thought the water would be brown...it's not, it's green or blue, depending on the sun and the light. Wow.

I will write more when I get some pictures to post, but in the meantime, here is a fairly entertaining article in Aftenposten. I love the way they write about censorship here. This article itself would be censored like nobody's business in the US.....