I realized the moment I fell into the fissure that the Book would not be destroyed as I had planned. It continued falling into that starry expanse, of which I had only a fleeting glimpse. I have tried to speculate where it might have landed, but I must admit that such conjecture is futile. Still, questions about whose hands might one day hold my Myst book are unsettling to me. I know my apprehensions might never be allayed, and so I close, realizing that perhaps the ending has not yet been written. -- Atrus

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I'm Still Alive!

Well happy new year!  It's been a while!  But I haven't forgotten.

Things got crazy and they still are.  I studied for and passed my comp exams (phew), I taught a winter semester at another New York City college (mega phew): it was a 3-week course, 4 meetings a week, 3 hours a day.  Add to that the cold and getting up early, it was, needless to say, exhausting!

And though "we" are still waiting to hear back from Cairo, I'll be heading to Egypt for 6 weeks, and in Chicago for about 2 weeks.  We have to go by what we call "Egyptian time," which is identical to "Irish time" where deadlines are a formality and everything is laid back.  Don't rush tomorrow; it will get here when it arrives.

I remember once I was in the area of Luxor we call the Tombs of the Nobles where a man was trying to sell me this souvenir wrapped in newspaper which his wife supposedly made (she didn't).  I told him I'll come back tomorrow because I didn't have any money.  This was, of course, a lie.  I had about 50 Egyptian pounds in my pocket and I was not going to return tomorrow.  He told me that I shouldn't put things off until tomorrow because I don't know what will happen tomorrow and I should enjoy the day.  He kept pressing me, lowering the price he was asking for it until I caved.  I'm such a target, you have no idea.  I have a guilt complex that is part and parcel of being Catholic and an honest streak akin to that of a Vulcan.  I can't haggle to save my life -- I need to watch Life of Brian to take lessons in that.  I tell you truly that scene in Life of Brian is accurate.  These guys want to haggle!

Oh gosh, then there was that time I rode the camel.  My friend and I were totally swindled.  I know this is a blog dedicated to Myst, but I'm just so pumped to record these stories.  So the camel story.  I had a few "must dos" when I went to Egypt in 2013.  One was to hug a Hathor column at Deir el-Bahri.  Check.  Two was to take the mountain road just like an ancient Egyptian from Deir el-Medina to the Valley of the Kings.  Check.  Three was to ride a camel to the Giza pyramids.  Check.  And dear me was it an adventure.

The silly teenaged boy (nice kid) who took advantage of the fact I clung to him for dear life aside, it was pretty comical.  My friend and I had one day to spend in Cairo before our flight the next morning.  So to get in as much sight seeing as possible we hired a taxi for 500 Egyptian pounds (another ripoff I heard later).  He took us to Saqqara, Islamic Cairo, Coptic Cairo, and of course to Giza.  At the various sites he told us that if anyone tries to give us a tour to say la (no) and imshee (go away, which is really rude).  I already knew these words, but it was kind of him to give a heads up.  I told him I wanted to ride a camel and my friend wanted to ride a horse.  He told us he knew a guy.  He drives us to some off-the-map street and leads us to a couple of dudes who bring us into their shop.  This shop was for selling glass perfume bottles, really beautiful ones.  But they led us further in behind a curtain and had us sit and gave us crappy Turkish coffee (which they called Egyptian coffee because they knew it wasn't good stuff).  Then another guy comes in with various poster boards and proceeds to give us a poster presentation of the quality camel (which they called Egyptian helicopters) and horse packages they offer.  By this time I am laughing hysterically because this is just so insane.  Meanwhile my friend is trying to talk them down from 300 pounds and manages to get them to 150, which is still absurdly high, as I discovered later.

Once the price was settled they brought us back outside where lo and behold my disgruntled camel was waiting for me.  I'd never ridden one before, so this was going to be interesting.  Now, if you've ever been to the zoo or perhaps a Renaissance Faire where they offer camel rides, you will observe that people have to climb a set of stairs to ascend to the camel's back (now that is hilarious!).  Nope, not in my situation.  My camel friend was sitting on the ground, so I had to get on this thing legit, you know.  I sit on the saddle and suddenly this guy gets up.  I tell you I lost the seconds between when I got on the saddle to the moment when the camel was standing upright, because that is terrifying the first time!  Think of it this way: do you remember those animal things on the playground, like a horse or somesuch where you sit on its saddle and the whole contraption is attached to a spring so that you rock back and forth?  One of these guys:
Remember how you rocked a little too hard?  Well, imagine doing that and rising up 6-7 feet into the sky.  That's the best way I can describe it.  Oh, and you can't walk properly for a while afterwards either haha!  So then what happened is the camel tripped.  I think I held my breath the entire time it took to get to Giza.  But it rocked nonetheless.

The horses they used are something else.  They are generally old horses that don't do very well on rocky or paved surfaces, and they walk sideways.


Anyway, iota and I have taken a hiatus from Uru at least until after I return from Egypt (that is, of course, if Cairo gives us the green light in time!).  I also hope eventually (maybe September) to get internet again in my apartment.  As well as a new computer not only as a gift to me for my 30th birthday, but also to have the latest stuff for Obduction!  I just REALLY hope they don't deliver anything while I am out of the country, which will be through April.