2019 Year in Review

Top 10 Posts on this Blog in 2019

I sometimes like to offer my readers a “behind the scenes” look at my web sites.  It can be interesting, for example, to see which articles are the most popular (as measured by page views), and compare that to which articles you have enjoyed the most. Also, if you see that something is popular which you haven’t read yet, you might want to check it out to see what you’re missing! Continue reading “2019 Year in Review”

When Life Gets in the Way of Blogging – A Look Back at 2019

For various reasons, I didn’t add as many new blog posts in 2019 as I wanted to.  I added a total of 15 new items, and I would have preferred to add something at least once every 2 weeks, if not more often.  But, there were good reasons Continue reading “When Life Gets in the Way of Blogging – A Look Back at 2019”

Moulid Abu al-Haggag – A Three-Day Party in Luxor, Egypt

Once a year, the people of Luxor, Egypt enjoy a 3-day party celebrating the moulid (birth date) of the 13th century Sufi leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Haggag, who was also known as “Abu al-Haggag”, “father of the pilgrims”.

Over the course of the event, people celebrate with tahtib (martial art) competitions for the men, carnival rides for the children, pilgrimages to the Abu al-Haggag Mosque, Sufi zikrs (rituals), horse racing, and more. The moulid’s final day culminates with the dora, a parade. Continue reading “Moulid Abu al-Haggag – A Three-Day Party in Luxor, Egypt”

Christmas Lights Around Iowa City, Iowa

Every year after Thanksgiving, my husband and I enjoy exploring the outdoor Christmas lights in the area around Iowa City, Iowa. If you’re planning to visit friends or family in the area, maybe you’ll enjoy taking a drive to enjoy these for yourself.

North Liberty, Iowa

There are 3 houses in particular in North Liberty that we enjoy driving past at Christmas time.  One of them is widely known in the area as “the Santa House” because its yard displays over 100 lighted Santas. Continue reading “Christmas Lights Around Iowa City, Iowa”

Moulid al-Hussein in Cairo

Once a year, Cairo hosts the Moulid al-Hussein, which is a major Sufi religious festival. It’s a mixture of sacred religious observation and joyous celebration. Many Egyptians from throughout the country come to Cairo for it.  A moulid observes a holy person’s birth date, and this particular one honors the grandson of the Prophet Mohamed, whose name was Hussein.

On two different occasions, my visits to Cairo coincided with Moulid al-Hussein.  When I was there in February of 2016, Continue reading “Moulid al-Hussein in Cairo”

Will Be Posting More Soon!

Yikes!  It looks like it has been 4 months since my last post!  You might be wondering why the gap!

In July, I had some major problems arise with my aging laptop.  I needed to buy a new one, and migrate all my software over to it.  That was an expensive and time-consuming process.

My job also got really busy.  I worked late many days, which took time away from talking about my travels.

I hope to restart my blogging soon – I have so much more to say about my travels!

Make You Comfortable

 

When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.— Clifton Fadiman

I think tourists, digital nomads, expatriates, and travel bloggers often forget this important point. When we travel, we are guests in somebody else’s homeland.  I have seen some travel blogs that made me wince, due to how disrespectfully the authors write about places they have visited.  Some talked about trying to worm their way into private spaces uninvited, some mocked local food or customs, some focused on difficulties they encountered, etc.

You might have noticed that here on this blog, I try to focus on the positive aspects of the places I have visited.  I do, of course, notice negative things too, and yes, I too have had some bad experiences.  I just choose not to write about them in my blog.

Why?

One issue is that most of the bad experiences I’ve had traveling are also things that could happen here in the U.S.  such as sexual harassment, bad traffic, etc. It would be hypocritical to criticize someone else’s home when mine has the same issues.

As for mocking a local culture’s way of doing things, I think that mocking is immature behavior.  It shows a lack of empathy, and usually its purpose is attention-seeking, as the person doing it is trying to make themselves look clever or witty by denigrating someone else.

Also, people from other countries could legitimately find things to criticize about the place where I live, and I’d feel kind of sad to see something rude written about my home town — even when I realize it’s true. So I when I write my blog entries, I try to treat the places I’ve visited according to how I’d like to see visitors treat my home when they write about it.

When I write about the people I’ve encountered, I always think, “What if that person reads what I’ve written?  What emotion will they feel reading it, and is that the emotion the one I would want them to feel?”

Closing Thoughts

There are many aspects of any culture that can make travelers uncomfortable: what kind of attire people wear in daily lives, what people eat and drink, how traffic operates, negotiating prices on purchases, unfamiliar language, and more.  But… if we want to wear what we normally wear, eat what we normally eat, and so on, then why travel?  Why not stay home where we can surround ourselves with our own ideas of comfort?

We tend to find what we’re looking for.  If we look for beauty and joy, we’ll find it.  On the other hand, if we look for something to mock or criticize, we’ll find that. It’s more fun to look for beauty and joy, so that’s where I put my energy.

 

I Updated a Few Older Posts About Egypt!

Sometimes I go back and update old blog posts.  This can happen if I get new information, new photos, or need to correct old information.

In my April 2019 visit to Egypt, I took more photos and learned new stuff.  While doing all the photo sorting from that trip, I also went back into the not-yet-sorted directories of photos I had taken on previous trips to delete duplicates, sort and rename the ones I decided to keep, etc.  Continue reading “I Updated a Few Older Posts About Egypt!”

Egypt By Night: Sunrises, Sunsets, and Moons

As of summer 2019, I have traveled to Egypt 14 times, so naturally I’ve had many opportunities over the years to photograph sunrises, sunsets, and moons there.  Here are my favorites.

At the Pyramids of Giza Near Cairo, Egypt

Any post celebrating sunsets in Egypt clearly needs to start with the sun setting behind the Pyramids of Giza! Continue reading “Egypt By Night: Sunrises, Sunsets, and Moons”

Luxor, Egypt: A Parade with Its Roots in Antiquity

Once a year, the city of Luxor, Egypt throws a 3-day party celebrating the moulid (birth date) of the 13th century Sufi leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Haggag, who was also known as “Abu al-Haggag”, “father of the pilgrims”. Tourists from other parts of Egypt often come to Luxor to join the party. I’ve been to the moulid twice: once in 2018, and again in 2019.

Over the course of the event, people celebrate with tahtib (martial art) competitions for the men, carnival rides for the children, pilgrimages to the Abu al-Haggag Mosque, Sufi zikrs (rituals), horse racing, and more. Continue reading “Luxor, Egypt: A Parade with Its Roots in Antiquity”