The Shelter

De Shelter is een heel speciaal Hostel. Gerund door een Nederlander en geholpen door vrijwilligers. Elke dag is er een Bijbelstudie om 11.00 smorgens. Deze keer was er een Presbyteriaanse ds. uit Amerika. Hij was een goede leraar, het ging over de doop met de H-Geest. Er is ook een Christelijke gemeente daar die samenkomt op vrijdagavond en zaterdag. We hebben verschillende aardige mensen ontmoet, die we graag willen herinneren. Ook hopen we hier 22 september dv weer terug te komen.

Iets voor mij als geheugensteuntje:

Mero: Tsjech, die 5 jaar Bible college in Edinburgh gedaan heeft. Schaakgrootmeester, die Auke en Dieuwe veel heeft geleerd. Werkt nu als vrijwilliger onder de Soedanese vluchtelingen in Eilat en werkt in de Shelter. Studeert in z'n vrije tijd Grieks en Hebreeuws.

Andreas: Van duitse afkomst, 7 jaar geleden geemigreerd met z'n ouders en broers en zusjes naar Canada. Is 23, helpt nu 3 maanden in de Shelter. Ging voor het eerst naar Hebreeuwse les. Is volhouder, kwam op z'n 17e in Canada en moest de taal leren. Spendeerde de eerste 2 jaar  5uur per dag aan z'n huiswerk. Wil niet meer terug naar duitsland. Komt hoogswaarschijnlijk ons nog wel eens opzoeken in NZ.

Juda: Engelse-Jood. Is 28 en is nu 1 maand in Israel. Wil 'Aliyah' gaan doen, dat betekend Israelier worden. Zijn ouders zijn Joods, maar in Engeland geboren. Judah is een echte religieuze Jood die trouw naar de synagoge gaat en Kosher eet. Toch stond hij niet afwijzend tegenover het Nieuwe Testament. Bidden voor hem dat zijn ogen geopend mogen worden.

Arabier Ali en  Jood (weet zijn naam niet) zaten gebroederlijk samen te eten. Ali kan geen engels. Jood wel. Hij is 3 jaar geleden bekeerd en vanaf toen had hij het zeer moeilijk omdat zijn vrouw en  6 kinderen zeer vijandig zijn. Werkt soms in de Shelter, maar komt vooral voor de Bijbelstudies. Hij woont in de bergen bij Tiberias.

Savonds een preek gelezen over de Voorzienigheid Gods. Wat is het een wonder dat wij niet in Cairo of in heidenlanden geboren zijn. Wat een grote verantwoordelijkheid ook dat we niet de Heere mogen tegenstaan en dat we Zijn grote goedheid mogen opmerken.

zaterdag, reis door de Sinai

We moesten vandaag om 9.30 de bus naar Taba hebben. Taba is de laatste Egytische plaats in de Sinai, voor Israel. Eilat was onze eindbestemming. Eilat ligt helemaaal onderin Israel, met links de Sinai woestijn, erboven de Negev en naar het zuiden de Rode Zee.

Onze hostel broeders hadden ons een beetje de verkeerde kant op gestuurd, dus arriveerde we al lopend bij een groot arabisch busstation. Niemand wist waar de bus naar Taba was, maar ze wilden ons best per taxi daarheen brengen (6 uur rijden) :-) Ja, ja, we lieten onze buskaartjes zien, dus toch maar wat richtingen proberen te verstaan. Alles gaat in rap arabisch. Maar goed, na een heel erg bezwetende 'wandeltocht', met onze koffers vonden we -net op tijd!- het Tourgamon busstation. En de bus naar Taba. We waren al goed voorbereid hoe deze reis zou kunnen verlopen door verschillende internetreisverhalen gelezen te hebben. Het overtrof alle verwachtingen :-))))) Het begin verliep goed. Na nog 2 busstations aangedaan te hebben en er ongeveer 15 mannen in de bus zaten ( ik was de enige vrouw) gingen we de woestijn in. Gelukkig had de bus airconditioning. Na ongeveer 2 uur stapte de buschauffer uit om z'n behoefte te doen. Ergens op een foto zie je hem nog zitten, sorry was niet de bedoeling om dat te doen, maar nu ie er toch op staat....

Na nog een half uur stopte hij weer, dit keer was hij te ziek om verder te gaan. Het is in de Ramadan tijd, dus denk dat hij te zwak geworden was. Na een hoop heen en weer gepraat ging een van de passagiers maar verder rijden..... Toch schijnen ze daar niet helemaal gerust op geweest zijn, omdat hij natuurlijk geen busrijbewijs had. Dus weer gestopt bij een checkpoint waar ook een ambulance stond. Zieke man ondersteund en naar de ziekenwagen gebracht. Na een half uur kwamen ze toch allemaal tevoorschijn en bevolen iedereen uit de bus te gaan en over te stappen op een andere die achter ons stond (had geen airo en dat in de woestijn, twas wel 45-50 graden) Weer een stukje gereden. Weer gestopt, nu was de bus kapot!! Gelukkig weer een andere bus opgetrommeld. Volgens mij degene waar we net uitkwamen en waar de zieke chauffeur in lag. o, o, wat een land! Weer een paar uur verder. Toen weer eruit en in een volgende bus die ons uiteindelijk naar Taba bracht. Daar door de douane van Egypte-Israel gegaan. Gelukkig viel dat mee. We hadden verhalen gehoord dat dat wel 2.5 uur kon duren, maar het ging heel soepel.

Toen taxi naar 'De Shelter' genomen, dat is een christelijk hostel in Eilat. Het was een verademing om uit de woestijn te komen en dan de blauwe Rode Zee te zien en de prachtige stad Eilat. Alles schoon, rustig.

Vanuit het hostel zijn we naar de zee gelopen en hebben we een heerlijke duik genomen savonds om 8 uur met de sterren boven ons. Het was nog steeds 30 graden. Het water is kristalhelder en heeft een ideale temperatuur. Toen naar bed.

By bus from Cairo via Taba to Eilat

On Saturday September 5 we left Cairo. The idea was to take the bus to Taba, which next to Eilat, and a border crossing. From there you can walk over the border and take a taxi into Eilat. As we've read that the buses were somewhat unreliable, we were prepared, but it seems what happened to us beat all records.

The hostel had offered to buy the tickets for us. Perhaps at a 30% margin in their favor. We paid 100 Egyptian pounds (about 26 NZD) per person. But later Ida read that tickets were 70 Egyptian pounds. Not sure if that was a current price or not. Anyway, it saved us some hassle.

Unfortunately when giving directions to the bus station, they pointed us in the wrong direction. Left instead of right. So in the morning heat we had to walk a considerably longer distance, with all our luggage, than anticipated. Asking directions didn't always work, but in the end a few helpful Egyptians got us in the right direction. We arrived at the bus just after it should have left, but luckily it took a bit longer to leave. And luckily it was airconditioned. The sweat was just dripping from our faces. The kids were relieved by being in a modern bus. Somewhere after crossing the Suez canal (you go underneath it unfortunately), the bus stopped, and the driver (it wasn't my intention to capture him) had to relieve himself.

He went back to his seat, and rested with this head down on his arms on the steering wheel. We didn't think much of that at the time, and the journey continued. We really got into the Sinai desert. Taken from the window:

About perhaps 1.5 hour after our stop, the driver collapsed, having stopped the bus first fortunately. We had read about buses breaking down, but not about driver break-down. Probably the lack of water, because of the Ramadan, had taken its toll. Passengers gave the driver water and juice. Finally a passenger drove us a little bit further where there was a checkpoint and some kind of first aid post with an ambulance.

We were really in the middle of nowhere there.

And didn't really want to stay there either.

After a short while a second bus came, and we had to transfer into this one. No airco anymore.

After carrying all our luggage into the second bus, we drove on. This time with an official driver I think. After 5 minutes the bus broke down though so we all had to go out again. Our original bus arrived soon, with the driver laying horizontally across four seats. As we couldn't use the front entrance, we had to use the back-one. No idea why we had to transfer to the second bus in the first place.

You wouldn't believe it, but we had to transfer a fourth time after a while. Four different buses, three drivers, one journey. But we finally made it to Taba:

vrijdag 4 september, Cairo

Egyptisch museum in de ochtend. Daarna wilden we naar het kleine christelijke gebied in een overwegende moslim-stad. Een taxi chauffeur bood ons zijn diensten aan. Hij was verbazend genoeg een coptisch christen. Hij reed een beetje om zodat we nog wat grote moskeeen zagen. we zeiden dat we ze niet vanbinnen hoeven te zien. We reden nog langs 'de city of the dead' (stad vd doden) Waar alle moslims in stenen 'kisten' boven de aarde begraven worden en waar een grote groep mensen tussen leeft....

Coptische kerk was de beroemde hangende kerk. Er was binnen nog een portret van Anastasius, er schijnen verschillende concilies gehouden zijn.

Na nog wat in een straatje rondgelopen te zijn waar het 'echte' egyptisch leven zich afspeelt was Anne Roos blij onze taxichauffeur weer te zien die trouw op ons gewacht had. Het is niet voor te stellen hoe deze mensen leven. Smalle zandpaden met vrouwen zittend proberen wat groente of fruit te verkopen. rauwe stukken vlees met wel 1000 vliegen erop, haveloze kinderen. Nu zit ik dit in een rijke kibboetz aan de oever van de Dode Zee te schrijven. Maar op dit moment leven die mensen daar dus door.

The Coptic area

After leaving the museum, we were immediately accosted by people offering us a taxi. We needed a five person one and we knew the price, so not everyone was interested, but one was. He was a Coptic Christian himself he said. It least his tax looked like it:

I think the taxi driver took a bit of a detour, so we saw two famous mosques on our way. He offered to take us to them, but we told him we had no interest in seeing one from the inside.

I think this is the most famous one, called The Citadel or so:

Here the Coptic area:

Inside the Coptic church. The impression I got was that it was basically Romish, praying to saints, body parts of saints on display, etc.

We were a bit up on another church there, when the call to prayer started. This was a Friday of course, and the Ramadan, but at least 5, and I think more, times a day you here incessant blaring through loudspeakers across the whole city, calling the faithful to pray. They do that everywhere actually, in their shop, they have a specially reserved area in restaurants, religion and culture here mix like nothing else in the world. But anyway, hopefully this gives some indication how it sounds:

Clearly we have only God to thank we were not born a muslim or having to live in muslim areas. His providence has been exceedingly mercyful.

Our taxi-driver wanted to wait, for only a small fee so he brought us back. Here a photo that shows a little bit how crazy driving here is:

Or with four people on a motor bike:

The Egyptian museum

Friday September 4 was our second and last day in Cairo. Here a shot of our room. Basic, but enough. And helpful people here at the Brothers Hostel. But, as with anything here in Egypt, every piece of help has a price. But the accommodation was the cheapest we could find:

Here the elevator, really something from the 1930s:

In the morning, well about 11am..., we went to the Egyptian museum:

The museum was just absolutely chock-full of statues, sarcophagi, and stelae. The museum covers Egypt from before the 1st dynasty, till the last, up to the graeco-roman period.

Akhenaten:

And the most important artefact for me, the famous Merneptah Stele, or Israel stele. I'm not sure I photographed the right side, as my knowledge of hieroglyphics is wanting, but this is the right stele:

This stele was found by Flinders Petrie, and was the first reference outside the Bible about Israel. The discovery made headlines in the English newspapers of that time. Sir Flinders Petrie is supposed to have remarked after the find:

"Won't the reverends be pleased?"

Late lunch

We had a late lunch on our first day in Egypt, at about 2:30pm. Ida enjoys it:

And we all did actually:

We had a late dinner at some kind of cafetaria. Actually really good. Can't complain about the food here.

Papyrus making

Our guide took us to a shop where we got a demonstration in papyrus making:

Basically you remove the outer layer, hammer the inside, leave it in water for a week, and press the water out of it. Very simple. After the explanation you could buy a piece. Again you just don't know the prices or if it's worth anything. But it looked all very nice, so we bought a piece and our names were written on it as well:

Then back to our hostel. This is a fairly typical street scene:

The bus which took us around:

Made it to the pyramids, but barely

As the following story contains a few unpleasant details, those of tender disposition should just look at the pictures...

On Wednesdaynight 21:20 we arrived in Cairo. It was hot, probably above 30℃ still. We are staying at the hostel brothers in the centre of Cairo. Because we stayed for 3 nights, they picked us up at the airport. The driving style here beats anything in this world, and yes, we've been in Paris, Rome, New York and Mexico City. There's nothing like it here. Everyone just drives where they please. There are lane markers, sometimes, but they're not used. So 4 lanes get turned in 5 or 6 lanes, just depending on how much gap the driver thinks he sees. There's also a fair amount of smog, but not like Mexico City. About 11:00 we arrived at the hotel. The kids were very tired, so they went straight to bed. Dad and mum went to an ATM on the corner. On the way back Dad bought an ice-cream.

The next morning Dad wasn't feeling to well. Some cramps. For breakfast he got some coffee, and a little bread, but then felt that things were not going down well. But he managed to reach his room and the toilet in his room in time. It also appeared he had a severe form of diarrhoea, the worst kind, pure water... Was it the ice cream? Or something else? Auke had been sick on Monday, Ida on Tuesday, so perhaps it was just Dad's turn.

But I felt a lot better after having disposed of the invading elements. And just not sick enough to stay in his room for a day, so we decided to stick with our plans to visit the pyramids. The hostel had arranged a cab and a guide. We passed the Nile, where the cab stopped so we could take a picture.

And then we saw the pyramids from the motorway, already an impressive sight. By the way, roads here are used by anything, from cars to camels, to asses.

The cab brought us to a place where we could hire camels and horses to go the pyramids. Glad we did that, and didn't walk. The heat was very impressive.

After some haggling we were able to secure two camels and two horses for a total of 1280 Egyptian pounds (339 NZD). That's not cheap, like a lot of things here are not cheap. You constantly get the feeling you pay the tourist price. So there we went, Ida and AnneRoos on a camel, Auke on a camel, and I and Dieuwe each on a horse. At the checkpoint we had to get off:

After a ride through the desert, we were there, it wasn't that steep, I think our guide just held the camera at the wrong angle.

We got off the camels once more. It's very interesting to see how the camels kneel. And you have to lean back, because when it does that, it is steep!

And yes, wel all found the pyramids:

I was still feeling quite well, I was afraid I would have to go the toilet in the middle of the desert, but no. The only thing was the heat, it is indeed very very hot.

The pyramids are very close to Cairo, just a few hundred metres of its edge actually.

The most left pyramid clearly shows there are some smaller pyramids next to it. It's not really for whom they are, but they are commonly called the queen pyrammids.

The head dresses Auke and Dieuwe bought, made them look really good on this occassion:

Not us, but this is what we would have looked like:

After we had arrived at the Great Pyramid and looked around a bit, the cramps returned. I had to seek some place behind a rock, and empty my stomach for the second time. You would think my dear wife would supply comfort and soothing words, but she got away as far as possible and started to take pictures. If you click on the picture, you get a bigger version and you can just make out Auke and Dieuwe at the bottom.

Luckily that was the last time, in the afternoon I already felt better, had my first real meal in the evening, and was in perfect health the next day. No idea what this had been.

And then on to the Sphynx:

It was built to protect the pyarmids, not that it helped, robbers got inside them all.

Yes, these kids got close:

And then it was time to back. Here Auke getting off the camel, after the camel really goes dow onto its knees:

That were the pyramids. The next stop was papyrus making.

Cairo

De vlucht naar Cairo ging heel voorspoedig. We werden opgewacht door de Hostel Brothers met een bordje: Brothers-Berend. ALs je een min van 2 nachten bij hun bleef, dan haalden ze je gratis van het vliegveld. Echt een service. De ene Arabier nam ons mee naar buiten waar zijn auto stond. Ondertussen zijn 'broer' gebeld, die er toen met zijn auto aankwam. Buiten was het warm.....en je voelde je meteen in een andere wereld. Zand, zand, oude auto's met een stoffige laag. Maar gelukkig hadden de broers goede auto's (volgens mij zelfs nog zonder deuken). Er zijn geen stoplichten en op 2-baans wegen maken ze er rustig 4-baans van, wat met veel toeteren best lukt. We Het was ook extra druk savonds om 9.30, dat kwam door de Ramadan. We merken nu dat het midden in de Ramadan is, zodat het overdag heel rustig is en iedereen tot leven komt na zonsondergang.

Het hostel lag midden in Cairo en we waren erg blij met onze 2 arabische helpers. Ze waren zeer behulpzaam en loodsten ons zelfs in het liftje naar de 4e verdieping waar we zouden overnachten. Voor Euro 7 per nacht, inclusief ontbijt en vliegveld pick-up! De kamers zijn ook heel simpel, maar de bedden goed en schoon. Na lekker geslapen te hebben (met airco aan! - het is hier echt 30 graden dag en nacht) werd ons om half 9 ontbijt geserveerd. Ieder kreeg 2 lange broodrollen met de keuze uit kaas en jam, koffie,thee, sap. Genoeg voor een goede bodem. De 'broers' vroegen wat we wilden gaan doen. We kwamen hier om de piramides te zien, dus dat werd ook door hen snel geregeld. Om 9 uur kwam er een busje voor 5 personen voorgereden. Een van de 'broers' ging mee als gids. Zo werden we rondgereden, we reden langs de oevers van de Nijl. Er was heel veel te zien onderweg: de Nijl, ezelskarren, vrouwen met voedsel op hun hoofd die gewoon rustig de snelweg oversteken. Na ongeveer 20 min. zagen we de gigantische piramides al aan de horizon. Zeer indrukwekkend, die staan daar dus al viereneenhalf duizend jaar. We werden naar een kamelenboer gereden en daar kon het onderhandelen beginnen.....Eerst kregen we allemaal binnen drinken: Alsjeblieft, geniet van onze Egyptische gastvrijheid. Dus wij blikje cola, 7-up, thee gedronken. Toen konden we dus kiezen wat we wilden. Een korte rit op kamelen of paarden, een medium of een lange. Uiteindelijk werd de Egyptenaar weggestuurd en kwam onze gids overleggen. Hij adviseerde om voor de prijs van de korte een lange te regelen. De Egyptenaar kwam weer terug en vertelde dat we hem onthoofden en dat hij het voor zo'n lage prijs nooit kon doen. Volgens ons viel dat wel mee. Dus uiteindelijk alles geregeld en begonnen we aan onze kamelentocht. Anne Roos en ik gingen samen op een kameel, Auke ging alleen en Berend en Dieuwe namen het paard, halverwege zouden we wisselen. Het zat wel erg hoog op zo'n kameel en je moet je goed vasthouden! Maar het was zeker de moeite waard om eens te voelen hoe zo'n 'schip van de woestijn' aanvoelt. Niet te geloven dat mensen hier dagen mee op reis kunnen! Ons eerste uur voerde ons door de woestijn met uitzicht op de piramides. We hadden 2 gidsen bij ons en ons eerste doel was een heuvel waar we een goed overzicht over de grote en kleinere piramides en de Sfinx hadden.

Onze gids had een goed gevoel voor foto's maken, hij heeft dus die foto's gemaakt waar we op een heuvel staan en allerlei rare handbewegingen moeten verrichten om de piramide aan te wijzen of vast te pakken. Na weer op de kameel gestegen te zijn gingen we richting de middelste piramde om die aan te raken.

Voor vandaag stop ik, misschien gaat morgen het verhaal verder. Maar het is gewoon te veel om alles in detail op te schrijven. Na de piramedes naar een papyrus fabriek geweest: demonstratie over papyrus maken en beschilderen (heel mooi schilderij gekocht met onze namen in hieroglyfen geschilderd). Nog rondgelopen langs de Nijl, Egyptische falafel gegeten.

Kia Ora and Welcome to Cairo

This is often how the first few words with people go here in Egypt:

 "Where are you from?"

"New zealand"

"Kia Ora"

Yes, that's right. Most people here hardly speak English and yet still have the time to learn Maori.

 

Anyway, back to the beginning...

On the plane we watched Monsters vs Aliens. the biggest rip-off movie since Spaceballs (the name is actually mentioned in the movie). The flight was fine. The food could have been worse (Just kidding, it wasn't actually that bad). We got picked up from the airport and drove to our hostel. The first thing we noticed was the heat, the second was the driving, but that's another story. First up is... "What we did Today" (couldn't think of something catchy). Second up is... "Driving" (still can't think of something catchy). And last (but not least)... "Just Business" (managed to think of something catchy).

What we did today

We got a guide and a car that drove us around all day. We headed straight for the Giza Piramids. On our way there we drove over the *DRUM ROLL* road, and also over the Nile.

It was great, but more about that in the Driving section. We got to some place and what happened then will be found in the Just Business part (in a nutshell, we got a guide and some animals to ride on). Next we got on our animals. We took 2 horses and 2 camels (I prefer horses now, if you want to know why take a camel ride). Then we headed for the *DRUM ROLL* dessert, and also the Piramids (which happen to be in the dessert only a hunderd meters away from the city). We alternated between camel and horse. 

And as you can see, I am taller than the "Great" Piramid. I also touched it, and climbed on it. Auke and I bought a head-towel thingy (whatever it's called).

Next we visited the *DRUM ROLL* Sphinx. And that concluded the tour.

 

Next we went to the *DRUM ROLL* papyrus factory. They showed us how papyrus is made, and then the whole Just Business thing started again (In a nutshell, I ended up buying a papyrus painting for 130 pounds... EGYPTIAN pounds that is).

 

Then we went to eat lunch. It was a funny lunch, the waiters here really have a sense of humour.

And now I am at home writing this story.

 

Driving

No rules. No trafficlights. No speedlimit. Only your horn. Well, atually thet do have all those things, but htye just ignore them. That is why the police act as trafficlights. The speedlimit is ignored (most of the time it's so busy  you never can go faster anyway). And it seems like they have no rules. If the motorway is 2 lanes wide, they turn it into 3. All the roads are one way. You have pedestrians crossing the motorway, donkey carts, camel riders, you name it, they have it on the road.

 

Just Business

The Egyptains are very hospitable. But it seems it's mostly about business. This is what happened at the places I marked in the story above. First they tell you to come in and sit down. Next they offer you free drinks. Then you start haggeling prices on something you want to buy, or something they want to sell you.

 

That concludes today's story.

 

 

 

Departure

After 8 months our the time in Holland had come to an end. Hazeleger verhuizing had made us a good offer so we could already ship 16 boxes back to New Zealand:

So that saved us a lot of carrying :-)

On Wednesday September 2 our plane departed. First stop is Egypt. Aagje and her kids, as well as Ida's dad and mum, and Ida's brother Gerbert and his wife and their kids, brought us to Schiphol airport.

Us at the checkin gate. We hope to arrive in Cairo at 21:30, local time.

Heit and mem married for 40 years

On Saturday August 29 we had our final celebration: my mum and dad had been married 40 years. They had invited over 160 guests for a day at "De Apenheul", a park with all kinds of apes. This is early morning.

In the morning we were divided in groups and had a guided tour. Then we had lunch, full catering.

In the afternoon we could walk around the park by ourselves:

At 16:15 we had a show where the great apes received some extra food. Quite interesting, and it all looked very natural:

We had drinks afterward. As we still needed to eat, all my brothers and sisters, and their kids, went to the McDonalds. Heit and Mem decided to come along as well.

Very nice day. And glad we were able to be here.

Interest.co.nz’s companion submission to the Opposition’s banking inquiry

For those interested in these things, an excellent submission on the issue.

But, today we are awash in debt, the result of a binge that will probably take at least one generation to pay back – if we started today. We have fallen in love with houses, pretended they are an investment, and we have taken on massive liabilities to satisfy this addiction.

The result is that housing is basically unaffordable for a single earner.

The drivers of this housing crisis, both from an affordability point of view, and a debt point of view, have probably been the subject of other parliamentary hearings. But I bet the result of such inquiries has been that the “issue is complicated”, and the most persuasive voices have not been from the victims of these trends, but from the beneficiaries. And so, little has been done.

In fact, it is instructional that the fuel from this housing and credit binge has been from the so-called baby-boomer generation. It is also revealing the number of MP’s who own ‘renters’ and have invested much of their personal net worth in property. I seem to recall that the last two housing ministers had or have substantial property investments.

I am mentioning this because at its root cause, the drivers of the issues being inquired into here are what I believe to be pretty dodgy public policy settings.

Read it all.

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