Greetings from Cairo

Henry and the PyramidsWhat an experience this is. Egypt is a fascinating country with a unique culture. It feels like an Arab nation to me, but the Egyptians say they’re neither Arab, nor African – they’re Egyptian. They’re very warm and friendly, that’s for sure. Egypt is much more than ancient monuments.
Tourism is an important part of their economy so they take very good care of us. The Tourist Police are everywhere we go and they’re all carrying guns.

Tourist PoliceIt’s a poor country, too, and many of the people we meet ask for “baksheesh.” It’s hard not to give it to them. There are five Egyptian pounds to the dollar, so giving someone a couple of pounds means more to them than it does to us. The children love ballpoint pens. We visited a weaving school where 6-14 year old kids sit all afternoon making oriental rugs and the guides gave out pens.

Population growth is probably the most pressing issue Egypt faces today. It’s a big country but mostly desert. The entire population lives on just 6% of the land and grows by one million people every 10 months. Cairo itself is the third most populous city in the world with 16 million people. It sometimes seems like everyone of them is on the road at the same time, in cars, trucks, or donkey.

Taxi Cab KidCairo abandoned traffic lights a few years ago and there don’t seem to be any rules of the road – even lane markings are ignored. Pedestrians blithely thread in and out of the traffic at will. There seem surprisingly few accidents. Perhaps it’s due to the language of the car horns, which are used constantly and can express a wide variety of meanings.

Today we visit the oldest mosque in Cairo then celebrate New Year’s Eve Bedouin style. Tomorrow we board the Sun Boat IV to sail up the Nile. It will be good to get out of the city.

I’ve uploaded some pictures on the Photos page. I’m also taking some video, too, but I’m trying not to be too much of a tourist. There’s so much to absorb I don’t always want to have a camera in front of my eyes.

34 Replies to “Greetings from Cairo”

  1. Great pictures Leo! If you get a chance can you upload some video at maybe 960 x 540 on blip.tv so we can download it? Thanks so much Leo! Have fun!

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  2. Boy, rub it in. We are barely about freezing and it is pouring outside and you are sitting in warm sunny weather. 😉
    Have a good time. Look forward to listening to the report during the podcasts next year. Happy New Year all.

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  3. @John: Are you handicapped?
    He’s on vacation, why would he upload high-res footage on some random website for you? Your demands are ridiculous, if you want to see Egypt I suggest you book a flight.
    Piece of shit.
    P.S. Hope you are having a good time Leo.

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  4. I was so scared that you are not going to like, but it seems that you are enjoying it.
    My wife is ansAmerican and I take her every two years to Egypt to visit my family and she loves it and her son is dying to go back.
    It’s too much fun to be in Egypt, you can stay on the street till 3:00 am and you will find open cafe and you will find people around you.

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  5. Thanks for sharing your vacation photos Leo! Looks like Abby is packing her own digital camera. What is she using?

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  6. What a fantastic experience you are giving to your children! How many kids get to go anywhere over seas much less to a place as historical and exotic as Egypt. It will broaden their horizons. 🙂

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  7. Leo:
    While you are there try some Baklava (probably spelled wrong).
    What’s the weather like out there? Is it hot, dry, humid, rainy, what?

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  8. Happy New Year Leo! Hope you are enjoying your vacation! I’ve been there several times. I wish more people from the US traveled with their kids like you. You can’t understand the world from CNN.

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  9. Thanks for sharing this trip with us. For some reason this seems like I’m on the trip. Look forward to more updates… oh’ wait your on vacation. 🙂

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  10. I am a U.S. Soldier right around the corner in Iraq and not having nearly as much fun. I am glad that you are taking time for you and your family. I hope that you come back with renewed vigor. I love your podcasts and can’t wait for you to return to the mic.

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  11. Leo,
    please tell both me and Adam Jackson about your travels and more, in 2 weeks time at Macworld 2008. Yup I’ll be flying over from the UK to the USA on Sunday 13th January for a 10 day stay in SF.
    I sent you a email, to tell you all about the intended coverage we will be doing, and of course we want to interview you!
    Further details online at: http://www.dailytechtalk.com
    and my own website will be updated soon, with my Macworld plans, online at: http://www.dsoundz.co.uk
    Have a great time in Egypt !
    SAM DOWNIE
    presenter/tech guru/apple solution expert (UK)

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  12. Great to see you spending quality time with your family Leo. This will be one of those trips of a lifetime. Your family will remember it always. It looks like you are having a great time. Are the pyramids as magnificent as they say? I have seen the Mayan Ruins (pyramids) at Chichen Itza in Mexico, that was a great trip. Glad to see that your enjoying yourselves. Have fun be safe.

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  13. I’m so happy for you and your family enjoying this trip abroad. Living in the US we only care about us. G-D Bless you and yours, and a safe return.

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  14. I have listened to you talk about the trip for the last few weeks on your various Netcasts and each time it triggered the memory of our first visit to Egypt at this time last year….my three sons – oldest 2 are the same age as your children – were enthralled with it as was my wife and I. I just meant to drop you a note saying ti would be really cold….so take warm clothing…desert maybe …. but freezing…..enjoy

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  15. I am enjoying reading about your Egypt trip.Did you find out why the abandoned traffic lights? If so, please tell us ASAP. It seems to me like an absurd idea, but their has to be some reason behind it.

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  16. Great shots from Egypt. It is nice to see it is still there. My wife and I along with 12 other friends were on a 13 day Smithsonian trip in Nov. 2006. Wonderful palce to visit, once. Wouldn’t want to live there though. Dirt , poverty and heat, mostly poverty, are insurmontable deterents.

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  17. Leo,
    Happy New Year and welcome back to California! Looking forward to seeing more pictures from Egypt. I hope you have power when you get home (its been very stormy here and PG&E still has a lot of people without power).

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  18. Nothing bad with poverty, people in Egypt are so satisfied with what they have, and they thank God for it, and that’s the important thing.

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  19. Went to egypt last year – found that the continuous asking of baksheesh can be a bit over the top sometimes as it makes you doubt their helpfulness to tourists and makes them look like money grubbers…. as compared to Cambodia, where the people were as helpful and cheery as can be, without constantly pestering you for cash…
    Overall though – Egypt is an awesome experience. Have fun Leo!

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  20. Hey Leo, love your podcasts and what I can see of the thumbnails of your Egypt photos. Nothing broadcast live in NJ that I know of so I rely on listening to you and your cast of TWiTs on my iPod.
    I have a technical question. How do you get the photo slideshows to work? All I get is a snowy picture of pines and a big black box in the middle of the screen saying “Loading Slideshow” and a smiling face moving left to right and back again. This has been going for 15 minutes. The second time around.

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