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There is no coming to consciousness without pain.
Quote Mark


Egypt (2)

Thursday night


We went to the edge of the pyramids and the desert and at the risk of offending the locals  I walked under my own steam not riding a camel or a horse as I wanted to feel the desert sand under my feet and I really could not burden the animals futher.


The contrast between the desert at the edge of the city next to the pyramids and the wall that now surrounds them and the openness of the desert was incredible. A full moon lit my way to the top of the first sand dune of the desert and the pyramids stood out to one side and the city lapped at the edge of the sand and the noise and bustle of the city carried over the dunes but in some way they added to the feeling of desert and romantizing the place. The desert went on forever it seamed and, I was again reminded that all things are one thing. A moment before the city was huge and swallowed me with in its walls and boundaries, the next moment the desert had no walls and boundaries and yet I was tiny and completely controlled by its vastness and the desert now set the boundaries of the city.


For a few seconds the breeze caught my face and carried history to me, the sand under my feet, ancient, the pyramids ancient, the moon forever and the sound of the city ancient but only for a second as the light and sound show projected again on to the pyramids in Technicolor and stereo surround sound dragged me back at high speed from the edge of 4000years of civilisation into the reality of a the tourist trade.


This part of the city is the tourist trap for those wanting to ride camel, horse or even donkey into the desert to add to their experience of Egypt. The thin horses, galloped up and down the tarmac and then into the desert and then up and down the desert in the dark with whips flying sometimes in the air to speed the horse  sometimes needlessly on to the horse to speed them more.


I try not to judge, but I do and then I have to stop because I will make myself sick, the world sifts a little, and I stop judging because it will not do any good and will stop me learning so instead I watch and listen and try to understand.


I understand the working donkey and the need of the farmer and the ilack of knowledge of the uneducated but surely this doesn’t have to be this way in order to make money. Who is to blame owner or tourist?


The horses wear a mixture of tack from snaffles to harsh bits, standing martingales, nose chains, all the riders carry long home made hunting whips and know how to use them. The name of the game is speed, the faster and more elevated the better, the ego of the men is served by the pain and fear of the horses. The eyes of which are dull and only carry a flicker of light that a horse should do.


A horse lies in the street, apparently suffering from colic. Occasionally thrashing its head and front feet. In front of the suffering animal a group of 10 horses are prepared for the next ride. A young man does come over to the horse and returns with a blanket to cover it with as a small token of comfort offered. I don’t know if religion, money or ignorance prevents further treatment, but something does.


Then our host produces three stunning Arabs, not for riding these magnificent beasts. The young groom flashes them up and down the street, the more rearing and prancing the better. They are in good condition and probably kept in a stable 23 hours a day to increase the frustration which spills out into movement. Unfortunately the whole thing is for show to massage the ego of man. The interesting moment is when the prancing grey stallion kicks the owner quite deliberately in the hip. I thought that we would see and act of retaliation but nothing, maybe this man is controlled by his welfare audience but it seems he just let it pass almost as if to brush it of is another stroke of the ego, “look my horse kicked me, I have fantastic horses”


It is too soon in my trip and my senses are bombarded in such a way I do not know what I feel or think yet, so I just sit with it. These people do what they do and I remind myself that there are many people in the UK who are doing just the same things for just the same reasons. There are also many people in the UK who are doing different things for just the same reasons. At least here the ego is obvious and open, not hidden behind showmanship, clever marketing and misplaced emotional stories of the true nature of horses. It is what it is open, harsh and direct and the horses suffer, but there are no misplaced psychological games or veils of illusion. I am reminded that as a Englishman I have very little right to judge, our own history of horsemanship has not been so considerate of the horse and although some people are beginning to listening and changing, the whip is still one of the biggest selling items of horse equipment advertised at will in equine catalogues and pressure halters…. just don’t get me started.

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