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Flickr has been improved! Almost all photos on this blog come from my Flickr Photostream. You can now go directly to a page that shows all of my Flickr photo sets by following this link. It's the easiest way to navigate in my on-line photos.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Crazy About Goats

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm crazy about goats. There is nothing cuter to my eyes than a baby goat. Way cuter than a human baby. I cannot resist them. Others may not hear them but they call out to me.
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I'm not at all shy about asking a stranger if I can hold their baby goat.  Good thing for me is that I've never been denied the pleasure.  This lady wanted me to hold two of her babies but that was just too much cuteness at one time.

I like adult goats too.

Lucky for me, Egypt abounds with goats of all colors and sizes, I have no favorite color.

I brake for goats! If I see any while driving I will shout to the driver, "Goats! Stop! I need a photo."

Just look at that face, so sweet.

The babies settle right in and seem to love the affection and warmth. I think they would let me hold them for hours.  As soon as I set the babies down though, they begin to bleat and search for their mother.

When I'm in Egypt, I'm in goat heaven.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Bird Watching at Lake Qarun

About a year ago, we visited the artist community of Tunis, along the shore or Lake Qarun near the Fayoum oasis about 70 miles southwest of Cairo.  One of the shops we saw there belonged to Ahmed Mansour, the "bird man" of Tunis.  We kept a picture of his shop and phone number for future reference.  "Some year...." we thought.  Well, this is the year.

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After contacting Ahmed, we decided to plan an overnight stay in one of the local Tunis hotels and then to have an early morning excursion with Ahmed for several hours of birding, mostly in the marshes along the shore of the lake.

Ahmed joined us and with our friend Roshdy driving, we departed for the lake at 6:00 a.m. as the sun was just above the horizon.  We hadn't driven more than a hundred feet when Ahmed pointed out our first few birds standing in the hotel driveway.  We would see, by our count, 31 different varieties of birds in the next four hours.  We managed to get decent pictures of twenty.

As we pulled into one of Ahmed's well scouted dirt trails leading down toward the lake, he pointed out this crested lark, basking in the first rays of sunlight.

We left the car and began a walk through the reedy marshland down to the shoreline.   We discovered an abundance of black-winged stilts and spur-winged plovers.

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Spur-winged plovers.

(Just a reminder that you can click on any picture to enlarge it and click again to enlarge more.  You will be in my Flickr album at that point and can move through the pictures with arrows on the right and left edges of the photos.)

We soon discovered that Ahmed could imitate the sound of any bird.  His hearing would pick up sounds of a particular bird in the distance which he could amazingly spot at an impossible distance.  He aimed his spotting scope and then invited us to view a small bird from a hundred yards away.  He is quite a remarkable birding guide.

Some birds were very noticeable by their calls like this clamorous reed warbler that was always hidden back in the reeds.
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Other difficult to spot birds included this purple gallinule slightly out of focus in the distance behind the mallard that you might not see at first glance in the foreground.

These plovers seemed to be enjoying the view in the distance

when they were joined by a moorhen in their midst.

Taller birds included this little egret and squacco heron.
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A grey heron posed nicely for us.

In between spots on the waters edge, Ahmed found interesting birds perched on the powerlines including this white-breasted kingfisher and a little green bee-eater.
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Of course, the white-breasted kingfisher deserves his own picture from the front as well.

People who come to lake Qarun expect to see flamingoes and Ahmed Mansour keeps a close eye on their movement.  It took a while for him to locate the flock but we closed out the morning with a group photo of these long necked birds.

The town of Tunis, the surrounding scenery and the hotel are also quite photogenic but that will have to wait for another posting.  Click-through on any of the pictures to see other birds not mentioned plus extra shots of the ones that were.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A Visit to the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center

Less than a mile southeast of our Cairo condo lies the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center. (Facebook here)  Somehow, over the years, we have neglected to visit this architectural gem that is home to a group of textile artists.  We visited the beautiful campus a few weeks ago and were amazed at the work of their weavers and batik artists.

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Ramses Wissa Wassef (1911-74) was an Egyptian architect and art professor.

Fascinated by the form of architecture in southern Egypt's Nubian villages near Aswan, he created a unique style of building in the Cairo area with arches, vaults and domes reminiscent of Pharaonic times.

He founded his unique art center in 1942 and began the school at this location in 1951 to "cultivate the creative abilities that can be found within every child."  Currently the center is run by the daughters of Wassef.


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On display in the gallery area is a large collection of woven fabric pictures.
This primitive weaving was done by Professor Wassef in order to teach himself how to weave.


Some of these works are quite large and amazingly intricate in their detail. This piece took the artist over one year to complete.


We visited the weaving area where we found several works in progress. There is no master drawing being copied by these artists, both female and male.  These tapestries are woven from images entirely in the artists' minds. Sadly there is no one in the younger generation who is interested in learning this amazing art form. When the current artists are gone there will be no more weaving at the center.  Both of these ladies have been creating and weaving for over twenty years.
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People of a certain age may remember the 1960's as a time of batik artistry in many communities.  The Ramses Wissa Wassef Art community added this medium to their repertoire in 1965.

Batik offers some advantages and disadvantages versus traditional weaving.

A large room of batik works is on display. Both batik and woven items are for sale as well as display.

Again, the detail in these works is quite impressive.  There are two styles of weaving- vertical weaving, which is done bottom to top and horizontal weaving, which amazingly is done vertically on the loom.  That is, the left side of the picture is started at the bottom of the loom and the right side of the picture will end at the top.  Such talent!    

Besides showing us the art and artists, our host and tour guide took us through the grounds and garden of the center.  Many plants are grown on site specifically for dyeing both cotton and wool thread. The dyeing process takes place here in the fall.  All of the current weavers and their families live in the houses on the grounds.
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The Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center is planning two exhibitions in the United States this year.  The first is scheduled for New Mexico and the second is in negotiation for a spot in Minnesota in the fall.