The First Happy New Year in 2014

view of palantine hills from coliseum rome italy by eva the dragon 2013

Warm greetings to my Rooster friends on this Roman, New Year celebration.

It is only twenty-five days until the Year of the Horse begins.  And then a string of New Year celebrations until we get to the Islamic New Year which will be celebrated on a most auspicious day, October 24th, my birthday.

2013, the Year of the Snake, was good for a Dragon like me.  The Chinese say a Dragon falling down from the sky becomes a Snake.  Literally spreading my wings, I flew over 57,000 miles, landed, then slithered around ancient lands.

The UAE near Jebel Faya – Recent 2010 evidence changes our evolutionary history.  Tools found in the lower, Arabian Peninsula, dated 125,000 years ago, challenge the old hypothesis that the migration out of Africa began 75,000 years ago.

Cairo, Egypt – What else do I need to say?

Amman and Petra, Jordan – Almost as old as Jericho, Al-Beidha (near Petra) has been inhabited since 9,000BC and Amman reaches back to 7,500BC.  Jordan is truly the Holy Land of the Bible.

Rome, Italy – Founded by the prophetess Carmenta, she made her son, Evander, the king of the Pallene settlement that eventually became Rome.  Evander instituted the Lupercalia, a spring, cleansing festival associated with the wolf. Those hills later evolved into the fashionable, Palantine Hills, home of Roman Emperors which archeologists continue to excavate and to find “new” discoveries.

Hawaiian Islands – Oahu, Maui and Hawaii – Prior to Captain Cook, Polynesian’s long-distance, ocean navigators are thought to have paddled to the islands as early as 3000BC.  We climbed Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on Earth and the Hawaiian’s sacred mountain where benevolent spirits reside.

Uluru and Kata Tjuta, Australia – The Aboriginals, whose 44,000 year-old culture is the oldest in the world, continue to dream in the red desert.  The Aboriginal say Uluru was created during Creation.  Kata Tjuta is even more sacred to the Aboriginals.  It is the home of Wanambi, the snake god and his stories are kept secret.

My Dragons and Rabbits ended 2014 in another corner of the Polynesian Triangle: the land the Maoris called Aotearoa; the British originally called New South Wales and later changed to NEW Zealand; and the place Lord of the Rings followers now refer to as Middle Earth.  Scientists believe New Zealand is the last major landmass to be settled by Homo sapiens.

It was a magical year.  I am certain these experiences will continue to reverberate through my life and, as they inspire me, I will share my stories with you.

Wherever you are on planet Earth, Happy Beginnings.


Scenes from Zamalek in Cairo

View of Zamalek

Zamalek is located on the 4 kilometer long and 1 kilometer wide Gezira island in the middle of Cairo.  On the map, The Gezira Palace (Marriott-Zamalek) is the pink building just south of the 15th of May Bridge.  It is across the street from the Gezira Sporting Club, aka The Nadi, similar to New York’s Central Park.  The Nadi is a featured venue in many Egyptian movies so is well known throughout the Arab world.

Fifteen of May Bridge over Nile River

View of 15th of May Bridge over the Nile, opposite of Zamalek.

Arriving at the Gezira Palace in Zamalek, the children again remarked about much smaller the lions were than they remembered.  And Ace thought they were gold, not marble.

Ace blending in with the Egyptian royalty to welcome Empress Eugenia

I wonder whether the Empress Eugenie of France felt the same way when she arrived in 1869. Her guest bedroom in the palace was designed to be identical to her own in Tulleries, France.  But with a full name of  María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick I can only imagine despite the Khedive Ismail’s attempt to impress her, the Gezira Palace looked small compared to the renovated Tulleries Palace.

Les Tuileries before 1871 when it was burnt down.

This visit it was too cold to while away the hours sitting in the palace garden.  Instead, Mojo and I spent a little time walking around the shopping district.

Azza Fahmy Store showcasing her Pharonic collection

Black canna lilies

New Arabic Restaurant in Zamalek

Residence in Zamalek

Even in Zamalek the buildings’ exteriors suffer from neglect.

But people are still walking around, buying their bread from the street vendors and having coffee with their friends.

Coffee Shop Receipt Holder in Cairo

It’s Still Egypt but…

Egyptian Taxi

A year after the Egyptian revolution, it hardly looks like things have changed.  The decrepit taxis still run and negotiate for every pound they can.

The streets are still crumbing.

Ministry of Interior Building off the 5th of May Bridge

The burned out Ministry of Internal Affairs Building, a monument of the Arab Spring, like the other old buildings, temples and monuments, still graces the banks of the Nile.

Laid off Egyptian Refinery Workers protesting January 22 2012

People continue to protest.

Outside Prime Minister's office

The men in power surround themselves with soldiers.

Egyptian mosque and blue sky

Still – while driving through the Cairo, I was surprised to feel a lightness in the air.  I felt hope not darkness.

The young keep living and dancing.

It’s still a place where the sweet potato street vendor can leave his cart in the middle of the intersection under the peace cranes.

And still some Egyptians believe the Americans understand their cause and their desire for democracy.

Flying Into Cairo – Views from the Air

The fields watered by the life-giving Nile River surround the crowded communities on its shores.

This view was south of Cairo as we flew towards the airport which is east of Cairo.

Shanties are holding their ground on the desert cliffs surrounding the city.

With 17 million people living in Cairo and the suburbs immediately surrounding the city center, from the air Cairo’s high-rise apartments resemble a Monopoly board in overdrive.

View of Cairo’s famous traffic along main arteries around the airport.

Golden Anniversary

My In-laws wedding photo from 1962

Fifty years ago today, my in-laws got married.  Technically they signed the “kettel khitab” or marriage contract.

Today we are in Cairo at the Pasha Restaurant on the Nile celebrating with family and friends.

This is the second Golden Anniversary I have celebrated.  The first was my grandparents.

I wonder whether Mojo and I will celebrate our 50th?  I wonder what the world will be like in 35 years.

Riding the Lions in Zamalek

Susan’s First Visit to Cairo, Sitting in the Garden with her Nana

When we visit Mojo’s family in Cairo, we always stay at the Marriott on Zamalek island.

The Marriott was once the palace of Khedive Ismail.  It opened in 1869.

We like the hotel for its location and the garden.  During our stays, we usually eat every meal on the terrace.  It’s the place to meet and greet your friends.

At the entrance are two marble lions.  Susan and the boys always climb up on the lions when we enter the hotel.  And as it is in the Middle East, no one ever scolds them.

Susan riding the marble lion.

Last year as we walked in, Susan said, “I didn’t know the lions were so small.”

We are off to Cairo for a few days.  I will let you know -whoever you are – what she says this year.


Tales by Chapter

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