egypt

day 45. this just in...

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after a long slog emailing and coordinating this weeks activities. i got three wonderful phone calls.

the first came Alaa Abd El Fattah who promised to take me out drinking and throughly get me into trouble.

the second came from kareem el buckley who's promised to take me around cairo and show me the more sinful sites.

the third came from Omar Abdel Wahab, who works for OpenCraft a drupal development shop.

awesomely, omar and his friends/coworkers will host me for the rest of my time in cairo. too boot, Omar contacted his boss - Mardini, who in turn has opened up his office for me to produce episode 13. which is ironic because EP13 will be my interview with Dries, the founder of the drupal project.

actually i'd like to note, Khalid Baheyeldin made the call to Omar... which is perfect because they will be hosting a Drupal related workshop on saturday... AHHH.... can you feel the Drupal love?

...good night

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day 45. a month & a half (now in cairo)

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it's been a month and a half since i left NYC and now i am in cairo!!

after a 15 hour bus ride from tel aviv, i have finally made it to africa. upon arrival and in the confines of the Sheraton Cairo business center, i discovered that i had no place to sleep. the super kind attendant, imat, hooked me up with an internet connection and offered a special hotel rate with the price tag of $260 USD. in all honesty, i thought about it... and decided to let my fingers to the walking.

twenty mins later, i discover a little hostel named Lialy. after a herroing taxi cab ride that ran three lights with one featuring a near head on collision, i "arrived" at 3am. with complete understanding of my situation, the midnight attendant shepherd me into freezing three bed room.

waking at 9am, i was presented with two options...
1. wait to see if a room is available.
2. make my own booking at another hostel.

in haste, and after looking at fellow blogger reviews, i have made arrangements at Meramees hostel but have also been told that there is no availably after tomorrow. so, if you are reading this and know someone in cairo... help a brudda out and have someone contact me via my american sim (+1.917.657.6999).

in the meantime, i'm going to find an egyptian sim, check into the meramees, find an internet connection and start pounding away in some IRC chat rooms.

(update 13h30)
well it appears that i have more night in the luxurious accommodations of midan talaat harb square. in a striking similarity to columbus circle in manhattan, cars, scooters, motorcycles, bicycle peddlers, street merchants, and pedestrians all vie for the right to pass. littered with parked cars, torn up sidewalks and air conditioning water droplets, the sidewalks wreak of mayhem.

there is one sad passing note that i should mention about the little hostel named lialy. when i went back to pick up my bags, the day attendant told me he now had a room for me. a little shocked, i told him that i already had found accommodations and that i would be moving on.

after already charging me a egyptian pound (EL) for one hour's worth of internet usage (25 US cents), he proceeded to ask for payment. despite the fact i had already paid him 50 EL (10 USD), he now wanted 150 EL (30 USD). full aware of this scam, i politely told him to check his records. after confirming my payment, he asked that i hurry up and clean my barely used room.

in the room, i was pleasantly surprised to discover the two other travelers whom i awoke at 3am. (btw, they also loved staying at the big apple hostel in istanbul.) in my departure i mentioned the small billing snafu, and they proceeded to tell me about another little shamble. apparently, while my roomies were eating their falafel breakfast, a group of three arrived. at 100 EL per person (twice the normal price), the three french started their negotiations to secure a room. after a few fleeting moments of delight, one of the day attendants noticed my roomies and ended negotiations.

note to fellow travelers in cairo, be armed with a big smile and distain for comical negoiations. don't be rude, but be prepared for the unexpected.

first - get a receipt!

two - once you have decided to move around, get to a hostel quickly. while many people might have great things to say about their experience, most of these places are on a first come first serve basis. while hostelworld.com really does not overtly tell you, the small deposit you are charged is just a shrewd formality for the possibility of a booking. hostels are not big chain hotels and are frequently owned and operated by a family or a few friends. things change at a moments notice.

three - always remember, get in good... get good service...

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day 43. thoughts about egypt.

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tomorrow, i head to egypt and cross into my third continent.

it's weird to think that tomorrow might bring some new delightful ray of enlightenment, but sadly it will bring 13 hours cramped into a bus. as i write these words, i have no clue where i will be staying, nor if my egypian contacts have gotten my messages about my arrival.

nonetheless, in true form, i've gone out and done something really crazy. i've shave my head, but kept my beard. it's not your normal thing to do before heading to a country that has a love/hate relationship with the country you are in... but as i set forth on this journey, no longer am i too concerned. i know my path is vague and the journey is just part of the process.

...and haircuts are just part of the process...

before, in amsterdam with andy smith... photo booth

now, with adylin luckle, my host in isreal... photo booth

ps - it's been 15+ years since i've let a barber touch my head...

day 39. planning for day 40.

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245195609 5Fe5169Bfe M forty days. yikes! frankly, i'm surprised that i still have my sanity...

speaking of sanity, i called up the indian embassy in ciaro and they told me it take five days to process visas. so, knowing reality to be somewhat a figment of consciousness, i'm not worrying about my visa until i walk though a metal detector and finally sit down with someone.

if you are planning on doing something as insane as this venture. you have two options, one get an ambiguous visa while you are in the states, OR drop into the indian embassy in paris or london. both locations will expedite same day visas (or following day visas) if you are willing to pay twice the price.

despite these headaches, tomorrow i'm venturing into one of the craziest cities in the whole world. tomorrow, i'm heading to jerusalem...

don't misunderstand me. i'm calling the city crazy, not because of all of the religious zealots that flock annually... no, not because of them... i'm venturing to the "holy" city because it's one of the oldest cities in the world and the "old city" is smaller than a square mile.... oh and did i mention the all the small tiny streets?

oh and if that didn't wet your whistle, i'm looking forward to finding a bus to Bethlehem to experience this lovely "security fence." i really don't understand the whole thing... from my conversations with activist, matan kaminer, this issue is deeply rooted in economics.

from my conversations and terse research, the Ashkenazi jews have long oppressed the middle eastern jews and Palestinians (muslim and christian). let's not even get into the armenian and Moroccan side of things... 'cause, that really starts to blow my mind...

nonetheless, with a country that is the cradle to three of the world's largest religions... let alone, a town that is cradle to three of the world's largest religions... it's bound to be crazy. maybe i'm too secular. maybe i've long lost my faith in a specific religion, but one thing has emboldened my perspective from the past few days...

these "holy warriors" would love to have an iphone, ipod, imac, internet, youtube, air conditioning, power, clean water, transportation, education, the opportunity to travel and the ability to move freely. so many of the Israeli's whom i've come across live a comfortable middle class southern californian suburban lifestyle. from shopping mall to shopping mall, from strip mall to strip mall, from gas station to gas station... the modern israeli is no different than the community i was born into nor the midwestern community i grew up in.

hopefully, tomorrow i will get to see a different perspective.

Couchsurfing solicitation for accompaniment in the jerusalem-yerushalayim / israel groups.

(photo discovered on fejron's flickr feed but obviously stolen from somewhere else...)

day 39. my indian predicament

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mcgorlic park in greenpoint - 3

perched in the arid land of zionist deliverance, i mull over the next few hoops. from these mounds of sand, i move southwest into the land of the pharaohs. all along the way i am perplexed by my next journey. after visiting the river nile, i am to venture onward to india.

like an impatient child, i neglected to pick up a visa in new york, and with less time to waist, i ran away from the visa services line in paris. now i am faced with a dilemma. relinquish my passport to a travel bureau, wait 10 days bouncing up and down in israel and miss an opportunity to visit the occupied territories, or i can venture onward to egypt, re-negotiate my travel plans, and hope that i am not detained more than necessary.

i should note that within this predicament there is a silver lining. my original departure would have shuttled my soul before the full moon. now with a vague statement of 10 days to process my visa, i will be in forced to capture my second full moon on my second continent. oh the pain and agony of watching a bright and beautiful moon amongst the company of random strangers.

Africa & Middle-East

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''My second continent is Africa, but i'll be passing through the middle east first. From Aug to September, I will bounce around looking to cover as much as possible. If you have something to add, please feel free!''

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== '''Week 6''' ==
* '''9 - 15 Aug'''
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Aviv Tel Aviv]
* [http://august.penguin.org.il/AUG2007/english.html isreali open source community conference] - aug 10 (thanks Zohar Stolar)
* hang out with [http://www.dotanmazor.com/ dotan mazor]

----
== '''Week 7, 8, 9''' ==
* '''19 Aug - 6 Sept''' [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt Egypt], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairo Cairo]
* '''Guide & Translator for the first week''' [http://omar.owahab.com/Omar/ Omar Abdel Wahab]
* hang out with the guys and gals at [http://open-craft.com OpenCraft]
* [http://www.eglug.org/ eglug] egyptian free/open source community
* [http://mardinix.net/ mardini] - programmer and partner of OpenCraft
* [http://www.manalaa.net/ manal and alaa] bloggers and drupal peeps
* [http://norayounis.com Nora Younis] - activist, flickr'er and journalist
* [http://gharbeia.net/ Amr Gharbeia] - activist, programmer and translator
* [http://monem-press.blogspot.com/ Abdel-Monem Mahmoud] - activist blogger
* visit [http://baheyeldin.com Khalid Baheyeldin] and his brother to discuss open source translations programs
* 25 Aug - [http://www.open-craft.com/drupal_scalability_userpoints open craft conversation] on drupal
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyramid_of_Giza Great Pyramid of Giza]

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=== '''Seas to Sail''' ===
* South Atlantic Ocean
* Indian Ocean

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on the luck of seven was an open-source, around the world project by noel hidalgo, a new york city based activist, organizer, barcamper and coworker.

for seven months, he traversed the globe. using a new media voodo (blog, vlog, wiki, flickr, couchsurfing, twitter, myspace, dopplr, and facebook), noneck harnessed the collective knowledge of the internet, and report on seven topics of freedom. this trip was funded by 253 people and supported, house, fed, and loved by countless others.

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