I’ve restarted a project that got eclipsed by other stuff; scanning and photoshopping old photos taken by my brother Gail Brooks 20-40 years ago, when he was a geologist in the Middle East.  Retired now, he lives in New Zealand and is writing his memoirs.  He is a fabulously entertaining writer, and writes of his wild adventures with great humor and an amazing skill for description.  I think he owes it to the world to publish this opus, but he claims he doesn’t have the energy for pursuing it, only wants to send it online to friends and family.  (And like him, I have no delusions about the ease of finding a publisher.) He can’t send it out until I finish with the photos…a huge project, with well over a hundred images, most very damaged, discolored and blurred.  It takes about an hour to rework each one, and the results are usually disappointing, but still I’m committed to getting it done.  It’s a labor of love.  My brother has always been my hero, my Santa Claus.  Twelve years my senior, he spoiled me rotten when I was little, and as I entered adulthood, he treated me to amazing trips all over the world–including a safari to Africa for my high school graduation gift.

Here’s a photo I worked on yesterday, and it stirred memories of the weeks I spent with him during two visits to his home in Cairo…his oasis of a house in the suburb of Maadi, tended by servants, the garden full of mango trees, the hot dusty excursions to ancient ruins and the rich chaos of the bazaars, then sipping Silver Mugs (frosted gin drinks served in chilled glasses…originally served in the silver mugs until the supply was depleted by sticky-fingered drinkers) overlooking the Nile in the air-conditioned bar of the Nile Hilton, evenings floating on the river in feluccas, lounging against cushions and eating shwarma sandwiches…I’ll resist going on and on.  This picture (yep, that’s me at 21, second from the right; Gail is in the center) was taken on a weekend trip to Agami, a beach on the Mediterranean, near Alexandria.  Palm trees and white sand, a vast stucco house with snakes in the bamboo roof, a flirtation with the Egyptian geologist on the far left.  I’m holding a fig plucked from the tree in the yard; I’d never seen a fresh fig before.  We would drink from morning till night, starting out with bloody marys and ending with gin and tonics, but somehow no one ever got drunk…maybe the sun just sweated off the alcohol.

Cairo was glorious; so were the other places I visited, thanks to Gail, and I feel incredibly lucky to have seen them when I did, since many are now too dangerous, and I wouldn’t see them with the same eyes–I was an innocent, barely out of Kansas, and looked at these exotic lands with complete and constant amazement.  Thank you, Big Brother, for giving me the world.


3 Responses to “Egypt”

  1. patti` Says:

    lovely. Makes me want to be there right along side of you at the age of 21…in my fantasy world we would be the same age of course, and be exploring together with your big brother….two exotic, fresh, artistic, precocious women……eating it up with gusto….xxxpatti o

  2. A fan Says:

    Gail so totally looks like a spook! Perfect. Trouble for sure.
    Great beard, too: Hey, I’m just taking my kid sister around for a while. Meantime in the wee small hours, the radio broadcasts from deep in the dark closet.

  3. JTB Says:

    I loved this entry, mostly because I lived vicariously through Gail’s articles in the Hays Daily News. Remember? The Motz family printed everything he wrote and it was fascinating, especially to a Kansas farm kid who bought into the concept of traveling by reading.
    I had forgotten your trip to Egypt. Pure envy on my part.
    Also, for some reason, the entry reminded me that I had my first martini at your house. Your dad offered and I took him up on it and was astounded at how bad it tasted! Love them now, though.
    Keep writing and publish Gail’s pictures and travelogues, too.

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