When my wife, Cynthia and I first arrived in Maadi, Egypt our eyes were drawn to the broken sidewalks, crazy busy traffic, dirty and dusty buildings and scads of garbage strewn everywhere. Of course, coming from pristine and green Chilliwack we wondered how we were going to survive in this ‘mess’. Even the foliage, that made Maadi somewhat different from surrounding areas, looked tired, worn out and ready to go into the compost (if there was one).
In order to get over these feelings we had to learn to look at things differently. We needed one of those good old ‘paradigm shifts’! We had to remind ourselves that we were living in the largest desert on earth and that the record high temperatures were a challenge to every living thing … humans, animals and plants. Most importantly, we were living in a different culture with values that weren’t quite the same as those at home. We learned that, regardless of what many think, the world and life are not ‘neat and tidy’.
At the present time in our ‘Egyptian adventure’ when we are visiting places like Alexandria or El Gouna and make reference to ‘going home’ we are referring to Maadi (don’t worry, friends and family, our permanent home is still in Chilliwack!). Our brains have adapted to partially filtering out the ‘not so nice’ things about Maadi and we are now able to see beauty in many places.
One of my most relaxing and rewarding hobbies in Chilliwack is gardening. The annual cycle of preparing, planting, anticipating, enjoying, and preparing again is actually a healthy ‘renewal’ process that can be used as a metaphor for many parts of our lives. In addition to tending to my own garden, I volunteer once a week at the Gwynne Vaughan Park that is located on Fairfield Island near downtown Chilliwack. This beautiful park is quite unique as it is a ‘homestead’ complete with a heritage home, orchard, community vegetable garden and various flower gardens that was deeded to the city. Each Tuesday, a group of volunteer gardeners, called ‘Friends of Gwynne Vaughan’, spend hours making sure that the quality of the park is maintained from year to year. I really miss the camaraderie of this dedicated group of gardeners while I am in Egypt.
In addition to getting my hands dirty in the garden on Tuesdays (unless I am sitting on the lawnmower), I am also responsible for publishing the GVP newsletter, including the current November 2015 edition. So, in anticipation of carrying out this responsibility, I have carried my tiny Pentax camera on my morning walks and have photographed all things related to plants and gardening. As most photographers know, carrying a camera makes one more aware of the details around him/her.
Below, I have attached a number of the images from my morning walks. When you look at them you will see very little of the garbage that I mentioned above. Instead you will see unique buildings and structures, artwork and innovative ways of watering plants through hoses from the A/C units. You will wonder what is hidden behind the walls, door and gates that surround some of the larger and more exquisite Maadi homes. You will see the kiosks where you can buy your morning tea and whatever food you want to go along with it. You will appreciate some of the vibrant colours of the flowers of Maadi. Finally, you will see images of the plant and landscaping businesses that line the defunct railway that bisects Maadi.