Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gertrude Bell

Before we got to Cairo I started reading a biography of Gertrude bell, an englishwoman from the Victorian era who was a kind of female TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) She led expeditions into uncharted deserts, danced war dances with the Druize, camped with devil-worshippers in the Nejd, held court with expats in Syria and got to know the heads of all the desert tribes. During WW1 she was invaluable to the British, and she basically designed the state of Iraq. The book, desert queen, mostly just paraphrases bell's letters. But I really liked the british-ness of her letters even in the remotest deserts. She would be sneaking around trying to avoid the Turks and getting hassled by an unfriendly tribe and she would write to her father, "we are really having the most marvelous time and learning so much."

I imagined this blog might sound a little like her- clueless suburban american burbles around expat cairo. Now that im here i can see why she wrote that way. When you are new in a place, even the kind of crummy things are interesting. We have had kind of a trying few weeks- thomas misbehaving at school, the school not handling it well, a nest of thousands of ants found in the bathroom, turned down at maadi house, Emmett catching a stomach bug. But I still like it here a lot- and we are Learning So Much.

Thomas plays in a little soccer league for 5-7 year olds. Here he is with his teammates from Al Suez. There doesn't seem to be an English language 4s league, so we fudged his birthday a bit. It doesn't matter- he is a tiger on the b-team field.

Emmett likes to come cheer him on.

I love the Saturday mornings of little tiny people in shin pads.p

Last weekend we went to an "art school" outside the city. It had a very "hey kids, lets put on a play" spirit about it. A big improbable homemade treehouse and farm sitting out in the Egyptian countryside. It reminded me somehow of collinsbrook. but with a better revenue model. We paid $20 for both kids to have the run of the place and choose any two craft activities like pottery or silkscreen. I didn't take as many pics as I should have, but here we are:

Thomas of Arabia!

Emmett rode the horse too but I was too panicked to take any pictures.

Finally, we are sending good wishes and prayers to Devan, who had his bone marrow transplant on Thursday. Here is a pic from our last playdate at Dev's:

We sure miss those times sometimes!

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