Monday, April 8, 2013

high desert hike above abydos

Abydos, February 11, 2013 - looking from the edge of the escarpment across the low desert. To the east (photo right), but out of view, the Nile River. 
We spent a full day in the high desert, above the site of Abydos, bending to the demands of research, but mostly to the unyielding wind. The wind scours and scrubs that surface and it is otherworldly. I could characterize it as entirely inhospitable except that I love it.
Looking east toward the Nile - the American researchers' house and German research team's quarters are white structures out in the sands and apart from the villages.

You could survive here if you brought along food and water, made shelter to keep from the tormenting sands, and had a purpose (in order to protect your sanity). People did spend time on this exposed escarpment, and a fair amount, as these stone walls and pottery vessels suggest.
Low stone walls - an archaeological site that needs further research.

Large ceramic handle noted as I walked between the low walls.
Perhaps the perspective, the high vantage to look out from, drew people and made them stay - at least for awhile. But the litter of stone artifacts suggests human passage across this place for ages, before ceramic technology, and before the present dryness. Chert nodules likely drew some as this material is the raw stuff of tools.
a wild chert nodule
Tools, and the flakes produced in their making, are here in number - isolated fragments and areas of concentration. 
a scraper, scoured by windblown sand, and a thin blade
Beth Hart, University of Virgina, is researching raw material sources for her dissertation on the development of specialized production. She studies chert samples to find out where materials in archaeological contexts come from. This sourcing will let her know what raw materials look like before modification (tool production and heat treatment).  
Beth Hart recording chert blades and cores
Hiking with Beth, we spent several hours going slowly over surfaces; she points out desert pavement and tells me about the creative (rather than reductive) formation processes. Stooped in our inspection, bent in the wind, we go with a kind of single-minded fervor that reminds me of some others that we know came to this place - Coptic Christian monks. Seeking asceticism they carved out simple cells in canyon walls - able to indulge only in quietude.   
 Monks' cells in cliff face
Even today the high desert offers a sense of removal from the mundane world. If I stayed for long I could gather experiences that might alter my sense of reality. Already the challenges of a single day, the temperature extremes, and the strange and beautiful vastness leave me exalted.
Feeling exalted and resting. Photo credit - Beth Hart. All other photographs are my own.

Friday, February 1, 2013

walking in abydos

The Shunet el-Zebib
I walk the desert site of ancient Abydos, Egypt - early in the morning till afternoon, over rises and into troughs. Abydos sits west of the Nile and near the escarpment that divides the high and low desert. It's in the low desert and neither the high or the low desert are the kind dotted by cacti, only sand and sand-polished stone. 
climbing the escarpment above Abydos, Dec. 2008
looking south, the escarpment to the right Jan. 2013
Organic material is scant and limited to places of human activity. Villages and towns bordering Abydos add the energy of daily living. They add the sound of rural life - truck and tractor, pumps and animals, and the call to prayer many times daily. And across some of Abydos they add remnants - organic waste and plastic, animal carcasses, and Nile mud transported to make agricultural fields on top of desert. 

Exposed to wind and sun everything fades and is rebuilt or discarded. This has happened for centuries, as the living towns spill over the ancient town site. Jan. 2013
I step over concentrations of limestone, mud brick, potsherds, and bone fragments - the materials of ritual and burial, homage to another world. In Abydos the chief concern seems to have been life after this one. Many of the mounds, rather than dunes, are heaped debris from episodes of excavation and looting. The structures beneath are tombs, foundations of funerary buildings, temples, and chapels – places where the dead were buried and the living came to remember. These features are the focus of archaeological inquiry and sometimes of illegal looting.

To check the urban growth a wall was begun in 2005 and helps delineate a boundary to protect the archaeological site of Abydos. Jan. 2013 
I am glad to walk, and to work here, again - this season with the PYIFA Abydos Excavation project - and with folks from the west and Egypt, people I've had the opportunity to work with in previous seasons.  
Photo courtesy of Mark Gonzales, Jan. 2013

Thursday, April 7, 2011

feet are the salvation for the brain . . .

. . . and that's why philosophers always keep on walking (Mi and L'au). So it is true. There is some sane-making effect that moving our feet has on our brains. I like to think that's what helped us to bipedal our way into the position we currently enjoy - the social animal that . . . has a lot going for it? 

Sometimes we shoulder heavy minds - each of us a tiny Atlas. Philosophers, and poets, and the like have kept tabs on us - Homo sapiens - through our eras and errors. I wonder what this new world will look like once the protests . . . die back? What will we say about ourselves in the future? What will we say about this time? It was remarkable, it should have been predicted? And where are we going? In our globalized reality it is hard to keep track of all the things that bind you to me, and me to those, and them to us. But we are each so much alike. We perceive more distance between ourselves than, well,  have we measured? Not in a long while. And were we right the first time we judged the distance? 

There is strength in each of us - and the tools we use today show us that human beings are creative and capable - as ever. Revolutions by Facebook, and when the despot shuts the Internet down, well then - revolution by word of mouth! We can see suffering and cruelties, but the reality that the heart stays so hopeful and strong despite imprisonment, torture, genocide - is stunning. I read the stories of Libyans, Egyptians - individual stories of sacrifice, determination, horrific lives - and I come out the other end optimistic. If they survive, so can I, so can you. We don't need to look far to find the courageous ones. 

I walk and realize that it's the pace I find comforting. It feels like what the body wants to do. This month is th is National Poetry Month and here's a poem for the day from   

The Broken Sandal

Dreamed the thong of my sandal broke.
Nothing to hold it to my foot.
How shall I walk?
The sharp stones, the dirt. I would
Where was I going?
Where was I going I can't
go to now, unless hurting?
Where am I standing, if I'm
to stand still now?

Cassidy Arch, Capitol Reef, Utah march 2011

These lines urge me on, somewhere - but how to figure? How to know where? We are ever in motion, this is certain. And sandals are always breaking.     

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

abydos, or if an expedition was a goose

Abydos, Egypt - morning on site, February 2011
If not for a revolution in Egypt the NYU IFA Expedition to Abydos would have wrapped up excavation and survey this past week. We would now be on our way toward Cairo, probably by train, and then off to our homes or on other travels. I had planned for Turkey. Perhaps by next season (2012) this will be possible. There will be a future a season, but after the events of this February and March it’s hard to know what that research plan will look like. It seems that looting Egypt's archaeological sites including Abydos, was heavy immediately following the ousting of Mubarak. 

Before Tahir Square filled with peaceful protesters, we were set to survey great swaths of desert – at least, that’s how I had prepared myself, mentally to think about that time. I expected to be away from home. I’m staying in Abydos to do two jobs, I thought – I’ll spend 4 months. The time period seemed daunting. My jobs were to excavate for Brown University, then work as a surveyor for NYU's IFA expedition. The survey and mapping project is, like the excavation, a longstanding one with many contributors. I was excited to add my own small effort to helping record the vestiges of history! I would think of it that way when I felt especially homesick. I’d remember the larger picture, our efforts in context of what we were all contributing to – a greater understanding, a mission for science and humanity! The drama helped. But then, after only about two weeks into this survey – it all came to an end.  We were very depressed. The archaeologist, the Egyptians we worked with – all of us sad to give it up.

Alex Makovics - readying the scarf. 
Christina Chavez - morning, on site
I was working with two surveyors who had experience with the site. There were a few Egyptian guys that helped us regularly – we had our roles, our plans. And then, one morning, we did not. The end. Before that came I was going to tell you the story of surveying Abydos. Along with my survey partner, Christina Chavez, we created a plan to relate the story of our work in Abydos to our DACC students in New Mexico, who were, in theory, going to follow along virtually.  We made a funny movie preview to set the tone.

Then the tone shifted – considerably. Almost too radically. I no longer know what to say. After leaving Egypt by way of extraction, and being informed by our director that the site has undergone heavy looting, I wonder what is left. Of course a lot is left. But the nature of archaeology (though destructive) is part tedium, to equal parts minutia, and precision. It is patient, detailed documentation (when done right) – it’s an intensely concentrated level of energy and effort, which is why you cannot excavate or survey without pause, thus the need for expeditionary seasons. The sad news is this coming season may or may not exist. And the archaeological record of Abydos is surely changed. The nature of looting is simply destructive – fast-paced, dangerous, and possibly driven by desperation, or greed. Inherent to the act is a deep miscalculation of what exactly is being gained and what is being lost.
That fable about the goose that laid the golden egg might apply here  . . .  if you can imagine an archaeological site and the associated long-term effort of an expedition - as a goose. Here it is all plump, ancient, surly (typical goose) and stretched across a finite expanse, and stretched too are it’s finite resources (funding, etc.). Sites expand, like a goose, in three dimensions – and maybe, like an ice burg now, a lot more of what's there extends into places you cannot see – the sands underfoot.  And what animates this operation – goose or otherwise – is multifaceted. Gathering the eggheads, gaining the permits, finding the funding, then there’s the interaction between institutions in Egypt and universities abroad.  And there are the inherent benefits to the locale – jobs, yes, for Egyptians, cultural tourism, and questions of history . . . well, made less murky. It’s the intrinsic nature of all of this that is hard to communicate across cultural and economic divides. If everything is looted - the goose is plundered, plucked.  What motive is left for the archaeologist to return?

To get to those layers you must peel back – but with care! Each deed considered; each find recorded. A goose cannot be understood otherwise. There are hours and days – sometimes wearisome amounts of time - without discovery and then, a golden egg! You can't reach inside a goose and find all its eggs. The value is in the living, continuing nature of the thing, not in the innards.
That last day on site there was a terrible wind. It was strong and made it hard to hold the survey pole steady. I was trying to find the prism, attached to the top of that pole, through the total station's scope. I glared into it – and squinted out the grains of sand that encroached my singular vision. One eye sacrificed, I worked as well as I could to relieve my stalwart companion out across the desert, holding a pole and waiting from some data to enter, by laser and trigonometry, into our devices. Everyone wears scarves as a matter fashion and practicality and ours surrendered on our behalves, fraying in the wind, relinquishing the desert to looters who would come. Only that day we hoped, we imagined, that they wouldn’t. We had to think this I suppose.
I don’t know how to endear the goose, or engender a desire to protect it, or ensure that it survives – as site, expedition, and research base. When we left Abydos we could imagine that there was work enough for hundreds of seasons. And there still will be, but will it be mitigating the damage left by looters?  

It is in the goose – stubborn, itinerant, gritty – and its return, that we hope.      

Saturday, March 5, 2011

rally In santa fe - mulled and photo-ed

I road the Railrunner north to Santa Fe last Saturday (February 26th) to see what was shaking (that's a $7 round-trip ticket - Albuquerque to Santa Fe and back). I found folks at the Roundhouse with signs, and chants, and songs, sporting their red and white (Badger colors) garments. During the hour of official rally time speakers, including legislators, teachers, and folks from Wisconsin, addressed the crowd of about 750.
(Rally host - Linda F., addressing the crowd) 
The Christian Science Monitor reports that people were gathered in Santa Fe, and at other capitols across the nation, standing in solidarity with the protestors in Madison, Wisconsin. Local coverage from highlights one worry I heard; New Mexico unions might be next to have their collective bargaining rights challenged. 

Calling ourselves after the foods we love helps connect those in sunny Santa Fe to folks in snowy Madison. Food is essential. Freedom is essential. We're dealing with essential, relatable things.

You may watch what went on in Madison last Saturday, including a speech delivered by Jeff Skiles - the "Miracle on the Hudson" co-piolet - from this Democracy Now coverage. What follows is a bit of a photo tour of those gathered at the Roundhouse, all from my perspective, of course.
Labor Organizers in Madison are at an epic impasse with their governor, Scott Walker, and the negotiations sit, stalled, over some serious Anti-Union legislation. Frank Emspak, founder and producer of Workers Independent News, spoke in Madison and offered some strong suggestions for why he believes deflating the power of Unions, and not the state budget, is what the battle is really about.

The message - listen to people, workers, human voices. And, also, corporations are not people, actually.
In case you wonder why there's confusion over how the line between human beings and corporations ever go so blurred, I recommend some reading - Corporations Are Only Human - At Least In Law by Brian Landers (Open Economy Dec 2 2010). And, we know that corporations spend money to influence elections.

 "The US Supreme Court has ruled that corporations can spend whatever they like on influencing elections . . . as courts insist that corporations have “human” rights (Landers)." 

"The Court held that the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, also known as the McCain–Feingold Act, which had tried to limit such funding, infringed corporations' rights to free speech." How loud can they, corporate entities, speak? Louder than one human voice. Do corporations have the right to privacy? It's being debated - Court Weighs Whether Corporations Have Personal Privacy Rights (New York Times, January 20th, 2011). 

"The idea of corporations as natural entities is now firmly embedded not just in legal theory but in everyday life. News reports can assert that “Google believes” or “ "Exxon's position is" without a second thought. But in reality a legal construct cannot believe anything, only people can believe. To say that a corporation has a position on a political issue merely provides someone's personal opinion with a spurious stamp of authority. For the chief executive of Exxon to say that his corporation has a “view” on energy policy because it processes oil is as meaningless as saying that his car has a “view” for the same reason. That corporations are not humans may be common sense but it is not legal sense . . . (Landers)." 
I realize there are many, many incorporated companies and not all corporations are created equal, and they reflect the values of the people that make them up, and the values of their shareholders, but - so often, the most powerful value reflected in the actions of these entities is the value of the bottom dollar, the profits realized by companies and investors. 
I'm mulling this over when I find a sign advising me that if I don't like them (the corporate entity), don't buy them. Koch Industries - owned by the two Koch brothers supporting Gov. Scott Walker - has its hand in a lot of areas (I need to point out that I'm finding it challenging to not refer to a corporation as an entity - as an it, or a they). 
Koch also produces a lot of toilet paper. I started to think that the protestors could have taken that fact and run with it - all over their clever signs.  Somehow, they refrained.
But they did manage to connect their struggle, a struggle of the people, to uprising people elsewhere. Egypt, for example.
I'm okay with this idea - the concept of solidarity between struggling groups of humans. We all want a fair life, we all want the same things at the end of the day, peace, clean water, enough food. We want other things too, and that may be where our troubles start, or how, in America, our garages get so full of stuff. But, hopefully, recession is teaching us to want less, or to check our desires against our needs. 
It is the suggestion that the Koch brothers are somehow the same as Hosini Mubarak, the ousted Egyptian leader, that I find unsettling. It actually makes me cringe. Is this connection a stretch? Does it discount the struggles of the Egyptian people, living for 30 years under an unjust regime, their lives and actions restricted and hindered by a police state environment? To me it seems like a (harmless, but) rather inaccurate line to draw.       
Food not Bombs, an organization that ". . . shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities around the world to protest war, poverty and the destruction of the environment" set up at the rally - and served food.
And, thankfully, some levity was served up too. It makes me think that sometimes people just like making something. We enjoy self-expression. We like being free enough to speak our minds on a hunk of cardboard or . . .
. . .  bright green poster board. If we live under regimes too long, we get tired, restless. And some of us, when encouraged by our satirists and humorists, even gather (see - The Rally to Restore Sanity, Oct 30 2011, the brainchild of John Stewart and Steven Colbert, funny, poignant, guys).

The Rally to Restore Sanity might have emboldened this guy to declare that he likes turtles and . .  I think the subtext is - let's  clear away the cacophony and pay attention to each other.  

The divide between American classes is a growing, and sometimes taboo, topic. We're America and we're not supposed to be this divided, right? We don't match the vision of ourselves, a free and a democratic country. That's uncomfortable. You might know this, or feel this. Rolland Merullo, the author of Breakfast with Buddha, allows his character, Otto, to explore our fear - about how we find ourselves in a divided nation and excuse it, but are bothered by our continued, silly justification for how things are. 
We all want a good life for ourselves. Do we want that life for others? How far from ourselves does this circle of well wishing extend? Our husbands and wives, children, family, friends? 

The character Otto seems to carry the same weighty questions on a road trip with a monk; he considers the disparity between his fellow Americans in one scene, saying:

"I realize I am generalizing and tiptoeing along the edge of the territory into which we never venture very far in the American national conversation: The fact that there are whole neighborhoods into which cabdrivers refuse to take a fare; that there are people among us who live in circumstances we are ashamed to talk about, children who live that way; the fact that there are huge quadrants of our cities where people like me - and not just white people like me - simply do not go, places we do not see, do not want to think about as we are sipping our designer martinis in swanky downtown bistros where dinner for two costs what these other Americans earn each week. We excuse it by citing the laws of capital, or by telling ourselves we work harder, or that it is social inequality that serves as the motivation for our national wealth. All good logic, maybe. Still, I've always been ill at ease with the vast distance between my life and the lives of other Americans."  

A ruling class and one that serves them is also the theme of Lewis Lapham's musical documentary "The American Ruling Class" (here's a 10 minute taste of the film).  Is this the good life, a life ill at ease when confronted with certain truths? I got back on the train, and felt overwhelmed, and wanted to take shelter, and wanted to make the world right.

You know, I did not want to leave Egypt in February. I was enjoying my job. I felt safe and liked the work of walking the desert and surveying with my partners. Then I called my mom and dad, perched by their television, in the vastness of southern Utah. I think it was around the 1st of February. The protests had been going strong in Cairo and in other cities. We'd lost the internet and the phone service was intermittent. My mom said she had seen, on the news that day, images of tear gas canisters used against the protestors in Tahir Square with made in the U. S. A. clearly printed on them. She was worried. That night I thought I'd be okay with leaving, if it came to that, which - eventually, it did.

You can see that news here "Made in the U.S.A.: Tear Gas, Tanks, Helicopters, Rifles and Fighter Planes in Egypt Funded and Built Largely by the Pentagon and American Corporations(January 31, 2011).

"The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor." Voltaire 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

rally in santa fe

I'm riding the train - the New Mexico Railrunner - a lovely creature-thing with a red and yellow roadrunner stretched across it's silver cars. It's an attractive, double-decker train and I'm in the top of the thing, swaying. I feel rocked into a tranquil state of mind and out the window are so many wonders. Stretches of farmland with the winter migrators milling about, mostly stocky Canadian Geese and lanky Sandhill Cranes. There are horses and cattle, llamas and goats, and all sorts of structures - huddled adobes, trailers with tires resting on roofs, and barns, and sheds, and those outdoor ovens for baking pueblo-style breads. There are spans of wide-open sage-covered land and cottonwoods thicker toward the west, toward the Rio Grand.

I'm on my way to our capitol - Santa Fe, to the Roundhouse where, at least according - there's a noon rally to "Save the American Dream," a solidarity rally in support of the protestors in Madison, Wisconsin. I'd like to see this event and already I can read that over 700 people are registered to attend. And I'd venture a guess that like me, many are unregistered - just headed north, even on this very same train. I've asked the folks next to me (wearing red and white - Wisconsin Badger colors) if they are attending the rally. Yes, they say. And I hear 100,000 are expected in Madison. Teachers and students were the first to protest - but then so many more have gathered, police officers and firemen, the middle class, the middle of the road, the middle way. Not the Koch brothers though; they are supporting anti-union legislation with their monetary might. But who has the most might? Who has the most will? The masses, or the moneyed? To see those gathered in Madison (and feel better about the state of our democracy) take this Wi. student-guided guided tour

Friday, February 18, 2011

out of egypt

I was in Egypt and then there was a revolution. I salute the power of the people. I am giving you a great big shout out - from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I, with the entire archaeological expedition, 33 of us - got extracted. The universities (NYU's IFA and University of Michigan) backing our work "monitored" the situation (read: revolution), and sometime around February 1st decided to evacuate. This came as a huge surprise, huge and heavy. A team of excavators, surveyors, conservators, photographers, registrars, got the news at 6 am February 2nd. We had somehow coalesced on the map of Egypt, drawn to this pinpoint - the ancient magnificent world of Abydos – now we needed to get out!? All that we had begun, and set out to do, would have to wait - wait until . . . when will we ever go back?

I had arrived in mid-December to wrap up the excavation of a tomb that has been a sort of long-term project. I began in 2004, my first time in Egypt, excavating the structure for the NYU's Institute of Fine Arts Abydos Excavations and Dr. Laurel Bestock (now at Brown University). I returned to the ancient site of Abydos – about 500 km south of Cairo - in 2008 and then again this December. The work and the people I met, Egyptians and Westerners, drew me back. I was engrossed by the execution of the work more than the project objectives, hooked by the shift in my perspective and the challenge to my assumptions.
So many relationships cannot be maintained through an Internet. These are the relationships that form organically when working side by side, slowly bridging a language barrier, and experiencing cultural exchanges where much is in the subtext. It is in the way we greet each other, acknowledge the other, work with care toward a goal, remove a burial, or brush a 500 B.C. mud brick wall for a photograph. A morning greeting translates to something like, "Morning of light (good morning)! How are you? Well? Good, thank God! How is everything? Fine? Thanks be to God."
Over several decades, excavations in Abydos have supported the development of important professional relationships. Each excavation season people in the surrounding area work with Western research projects and are accustomed to the arrival of archaeologists – even looking forward to the economic opportunity. But many relationships run deeper – there are friendships with families, people who have watched each other grow up, gotten married, had children. The business of excavation is layered, and always demanding in unexpected ways. Modesty on the part of each gender is essential to respect. Communication is almost immediately required of us – Westerners must make attempts to grasp as much of the language and as fast as possible in order to function.  It’s all very intense and challenging, and so too the rewards are high. But this time everything ended very differently, quickly. Instead of departing after a long work season the archaeological effort was disbanded under extraordinary circumstances.   
We all must wait for the birth of a new Egypt. That's what's happening. Egyptians are re-making themselves. The Egyptian people have rallied, and mightily. Witness something amazing about the human spirit and know that social movements are like wildfire, with or without Twitter and Facebook. For a week we lived with a silenced Internet, and still the protest grew (Jan 27-Feb 3). And the peaceful unfolding of events in Cairo felt surprising – I had just left the city with an impression that it was chaos – maybe that was just the traffic. The city seemed threatened by it’s own waste – the voids around buildings were littered, the air an odd yellow. I knew that some Coptic Christians worked as Zabaleen, or garbage collectors, and were responsible for removing the daily castaways in the city center, bringing this refuse to their slums to sort, and even recycle. Still the scale of the task seemed impossible. And life in these slums seemed endless, no reforms in sight. In November I had listened to a special NPR broadcast about Mubarak’s Egypt, the economy, etc., but I never expected February 11th.  
I assumed, wrongly, that the people were defeated after all these years of Mubarak. I thought such spirit would have withered under his three decades - but the resilience of the human heart prevails - what organization en masse! I never imagined Asmaa Mahfouz, Organizer of Demonstrations, was out there. And yet, she was – and emboldened - sending an amazing message out across the Internet January 18th.  All the times I had been in Cairo, I thought it most disastrous, purely post-apocalyptic. Air I couldn't see through, shouldn't breathe, corrupted water, corrupted politicians, and devastating poverty. On my last commute out of Cairo (a three hour ordeal) to get on the Western Desert Highway and head south toward Abydos, I thought hard about this part of the earth. How long could it all hold up, I wondered: the land, the water, the people. Radiating out from Cairo across all occupied desert along the Nile River Valley, I saw so much of the same. It always looked to me like a place coming undone, where, soon, life would be untenable.
But there are people, citizens of the desert, who had not withered, and were filled with deep and justified dissatisfaction and the saving grace of awareness. They reared up, combined their strength. The seeds, wherever they fell, grew up over some 30 years, undiminished - and a powerful current spread this germ far and wide, because its root is truth. The Mubarak regime was wrong, had lost sight of human rights, and abandoned those they should have justly governed. The regime neglected many millions of people, and prospered – until now. On February 11th, these millions (finally) overthrew a regime, and, after all their banded-together efforts, had an all night street party!

People all over the world are watching you Egypt, are watching you Tunisia, are watching you Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Libya, Algeria. (And, even, watching American states, e.g. Madison, Wisconsin where governor Scott Walker talks about deploying the National Guard to put an end to labor protests.) People around us, around the world - are struggling against tyranny, even to the point of death, to the point of self-immulation. So strong is this conviction! The idea, once fully embraced, that we are wronged and must be free, could lead one’s mind to sacrifice one’s body.  

The spirit is tireless and maybe bodiless - we catch it as it moves: a current, a thing electric, invigorating - you know it because you sense it; it reaches even into an insulated mind and into an insular worldview. When you look at a people, or an individual, rage against an abject and hopeless existence, your perspective shifts forever. What can I say in the face of that? The world we’re making is changing – and with tremendous and heavy effort. I see the cruel disparity people are expected to live with. Seriously - how long before the whole population of repressed people everywhere stand up?
I sat on the roof of our house in the desert the last morning I was in Abydos, and I asked Doha – a woman from Cairo who was happy to return to her home, just as I made my way back to New Mexico – what she wanted to say to anyone looking in on events in Egypt. This is her message - Egyptians want what everyone wants - a good, fair life (click on this link to hear her tell it).