Friday, September 28, 2007


As most of you have already guessed, I am more than thrilled to finally be out of Egypt and I'd prefer to leave it behind me forever!
Belgium, no doubt was a culture shock for us and Morocco is a lot different than I had expected it to be. For some reason I had always imagined Morocco to be flat, desert with dirty beat up cities and dark African people...Boy was I ever wrong for it's quite the opposite! I was surprised by it being so hilly, green, clean and quiet(it's so nice after months of having the prayer blaring in our window in Cairo. Poor you, Rhiis!). The air is fresh, the sky is blue and the cities have clean streets, white buildings and friendly people! What a great change!
In Tangiers, the first city we visited, it was right on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and it was so pretty. I have yet another body of water to add to my list. We took a day trip to Asilah, an hour south of Tangiers and it was very nice. Lots of school kids, murals on the walls in the crazy medina alleys which are so clean and quiet it's almost unnatural! We are now in Tetouan and it's really hilly like the other towns....which can be a pain in the butt when we have to hike up 4-5 steep staircases and streets with our big packs on to find our hotel. When we were at the airport we weighed our bags and mine is exactly 1/3 of my own weight!!
Our experience here has been surprisingly good and I really like it so far. I must admit, the filth of Egypt hasn't quite worn off me yet. I'm constantly watching my back, I don't trust anyone, I feel like every hand that goes by is a lethal predator and everyone's trying to scam me one way or another. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a new country and to give it a chance before I start judging too much. I have been quite shocked with the different attitudes and behaviour of the locals. "Did that kid just take a picture with us and not ask for baksheesh after?!!" "Did that guy simply just walk away when you said "No thanks"?!?! They understand the meaning of NO here?!" and so on.

I love being back on the travel schedule. #1 Wake up early #2 Pack your bag #3 Walk to the bus or train station #4 Arrive and scout out the cheapest hotel in the city #5 Explore and see the sights #6 Stay a night or two then keep moving on #7 REPEAT!
Wahooo, let's see where this crazy road takes us!!

Today we visited Ceuta, Spain (on the very northern tip, directly south of the rock of Gibralter) for the day. It didn't seem all that different from Morocco to be honest. Hhaha, no doubt, it rained on us in Spain....I feel a bit guilty for that one, after my non-stop singing of "I'm going to Spain in the morning, I hope it will rain..." Curse you Mr. Rogers for being stuck in my head,hahah!!

Still alive and scratching these bed bug bites,
P.s. Graaady you need to be with us!! Drinking dad's coffee pot underwear!! HAHAH

Thursday, September 27, 2007


After so long in Egypt, Morocco feels like paradise. Tangiers has a bad reputation for hassle and I've heard plenty of bad stories from other travellers about Morocco but obviously we are missing something or they never went to Egypt. It's sad to see how twitchy and paranoid we've become. We are constantly on guard whenever someone approaches us and are all shocked that so far we've not been asked for baksheesh by every man, woman, child and donkey over here. There are touts of course but they will actually walk away after the first "no". Amazing. The air is clean and we'd probably eat off the streets if you told us we had to without even thinking of complaining. Savannah has finally started to relax a little as nobody has tried to grab her butt since we arrived. Smiles and respect so far, with the majority of people on our side in an argument (we had a bus driver NOT rip us off even though a tout told him to). We haven't had anyone try to rip us off yet buying a bottle of water either. Ah, the simple pleasures that we took for granted for so long.
Tangiers is right on the coast facing the straight of Gibralter and has long been a strategic port. Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs and European powers have fought to control the area for thousands of years. Tangiers was an international city for a long time with smuggling and the immoral activities of life reigning supreme. All that has long been clamped down on though I haven't had so many blatent offers of hash in a long time. It's not generally considered to be the nicest town in Morocco and most people stay only long enough to get on or off the ferries from Spain. We've liked it and if this is the worst over here then it's not going to be a problem. The weather is perfect and ramadan is not too disruptive so far. Yeah, shops are generally closed and it's pretty quiet during the day but we aren't starving or having one hour sermons to listen to every sundown. They speak a different dialect of arabic here but everyone speaks french too so we are trying to relearn. I am using a mix arabic, english and french within sentences which sounds totally bizarre.
We did a day trip yesterday down the coast to Asilah. Nice quiet town, popular with tourists. The tourist season is winding down now so it is not as crowded as it could be. The main attractions seem to be the old town areas called Medinas with their narrow streets, older architecture and market stalls. They use a lot of white paint and have obviously done some recent cleaning because it looks great.
Today we moved on and inland a bit to Tetouan. It was once the capital of a spanish protectorate and its medina is a UNESCO site. The town has a lot of colonial spanish architecture and the people here speak more spanish than french. Not much help.... There is still english spoken and we were followed around by some pesky wannabe guides today but it is beautiful here. Haven't seen mountains with trees on them in ages either but they are out there today. Cool. This weekend will also be the first sat/sun weekend I've had since mid January when I left Turkey.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Talk about a shock to the system....
Initially getting to Brussels was a bit annoying as our plane ended up delayed by 3 hours as somebody had decided to wait for some passengers stuck in traffic. They never showed up but we eventually left and got to Brussels. We had arranged to stay with a local couchsurfer for the night and he met us at the train station when we finally got into town. It was too bad we got there so late and he had work in the morning because he was a cool guy to visit with. The following morning we went off on our own to explore the city for a few hours.
Brussels isn't really known for much as a tourist destination and is probably really only known as the capital of the EU and NATO. Belgium itself is best known for beer, chocolate and waffles but we found it quite nice. The weather started out perfect though much cooler than we are used to. The shock of walking around was so crazy though and I feel lucky to be alive. There were things like wind, garbage cans, personal space and, strangest of all, cars that would stop so you could cross the street! That was just too strange and freaked us all out. We looked so incompetent trying to cross the road that we are lucky there weren't any accidents. But then, how could there be? There aren't any people or cars around. It felt so incredibly quiet after Cairo that it was almost hard to sleep, haha. Seriously it was a very dramatic change, you don't really appreciate quiet and personal space until living without it for a long time as we were in Egypt.
Rhiis convinced us that we should eat a waffle for him while we were there. I think he was trying to kill us for not taking him along, those things are huge and ridiculously sweet. By the time I finished I was literally sitting on the ground twitching from the sugar.... Never again, never again....
There aren't any famous sites to see really but then Victor Hugo apparently once said of the Grand Place (the main square) that it was the most beautiful in the world. Though it isn't very big, I'm tempted to agree as every building fronting on it looks great. The town hall is insanely decorated with statues. We also experienced the first real rain in 6 months too. Can't say I missed it much. We did meet up with our host Wannus again in the afternoon but had to fly out again far too soon. We are now in Tangiers, Morocco but that will be another story....

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bye Bye Egypt

Yes, we really are leaving in the morning to fly to Brussels, then on to Morocco the next day. Our time in Egypt has had mixed view from our little group. Personally I have enjoyed my time. We got to see so much and learn a great deal about ancient Egyptian history. 3 friends join our craziness some even twice, and most importantly we got to meet Rhiis. Making videos with Rhiis for all of you to see, was a highlight, not only was it a fun way for us to explore Egypt, but also a great idea for giving you information. We are really going to miss Rhiis until he can find some resources and catch up with us. We also managed to get ourselves into a total of 22 commercials, movies and soap operas. Its typical though, as soon as we booked our flight out of here, we got a call for 2 up coming movies which begin on Tues and last many weeks. It would be worth staying for the money, but we are restless and certain members of the group really want to move on..... We may come back to Cairo if we get some really big offers that we can't refuse.
The weather is so much cooler these days and I love it, we can actually put on a sheet to sleep at night now!!! I am looking forward to seeing the West of this continent, and hope that you keep posted and enjoy it with us. Be safe and happy, we are
Maggie the Mom

Monday, September 17, 2007

Scary Movie

Ok, so all our fun and craziness with movie making has finally resulted in this, a 30 minute horror film called The Abydos Witch Project. Bit early for Halloween, it started out as a joke and as a way of showing the insides of the temples and tombs and amusing ourselves at the same time. Can give you an idea of the spooky atmosphere though. Anyway, it's a little dark so turn up the lighting on the computer and I hope you have good speakers or it sounds like a mess too. If you can play it properly it is pretty cool.
Our future plan, based on overall interest and popularity is to continue to make videos of the "neighbourhood" style as we travel through other countries. Constuctive feedback and other ideas are still welcome, we want to know what you want to see so we can properly focus our energies. Thus far it has just been a learning curve for us, trying different styles and having fun.
Unfortunately, we won't be able to do more videos again for a while as Rhiis is not able to come with us and we don't have a computer (or cinematographer) to put videos together. Rhiis intends to stay in Egypt and get together enough money to join us again soon.

Abydos Witch Project - Part I

Abydos Witch Project - Part II

Abydos Witch Project - Part III


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Review and Renew

It is the announcement you all are waiting for.......We are leaving and have a set date out of Egypt!!!!!
After much hummming and hawwing we've finally made up our minds and decided to continue so on the 23rd of Sept we are flying to Morocco via one night in Belgium. Go figure it is significantly cheaper to take charter flights to Europe than to fly direct on either of the national airlines.
I want to promise that such a long delay in a country will not and can not happen again but you know how these things go :)
Really though, I'm looking at this as the beginning of the second half of travel as we will be seeing and doing a lot as we were in before. This can be thought of as the interlude where we broke in dad and revamped this blog and stuff. I hope you like all the changes on that front and we hope to be able to bring you more of the same sort of things in the future.
I thought that as a review I'd list where we've been so here goes.

Ammon, Maggie, Breanna and Savannah together: China, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tibet, Nepal, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Poland, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia.
Ammon and Bre: Kosovo, Greece and Turkey
Ammon alone: Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen
Ammon, Maggie, Bre, Savannah and Dad: Jordan and Egypt

There were also stopovers in Germany and Amsterdam and soon to be Belgium :)
That's quite a list, but will soon be added to much more.
We hope to have your continued support and interest in our travels and would love to hear back from you guys from time to time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The leftovers

Well, not much is actually new. Today is New Year day 2000 in Ethiopia due to their never correcting the calender as the Europeans did several times. Both were based on the ancient Egyptian calender and wasn't lunar, though I suspect they used both. Anyway, it is an interesting time there, but not here, even though there are some secret society groups and such that believe the aliens are supposed to come back to the pyramids today (since they built them of course). If that is the case then I should meet the aliens before you do :)
We have a scenery video of Egypt using the last of the clips we took all over the place. Pretty random but nice if you just want a quick look around the Nile valley.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Family ( - Rhiis writes again)

The best way for me to explain myself would be in two similes, and they go like this:

Simile #1: THE WATKINS: The amazing track on the new NILE album is nearing its end. Double bass-pedals purr like cataclysmic thunder, wailing guitars crash into chaotic groans and shrieks and the Arabesque notes of epic battle music cry their forlorn dirges. The grinding guitars sustain as the double bass-pedals thunder to a halt, an one-two/one-two/crash. All instruments sustain and slowly fade away - one of the greatest endings to a death metal song yet. It's one of those endings where the song has left you with a feeling of profound comfort, and simultaneously a humming thread of energy. You want to play that song again. In the same way, my time with the amazing Watkins family now comes to a close. Not with a whisper or whimper, though, and not with some cheesy Kenny G song playing. We're talking the dramatic, ear-drum-blasting close to an epic Egyptian death metal song. That's right, we're talking a triumphant and exciting ending, something that both enthralls and leaves the listener wanting and needing more. As the last doom-grinding notes wind down on this great episode of life in which I've lived with the Watkins in Egypt, I know that there are more songs to come - not only more tracks, but compositions of epic proportion. So, it is not without some sadness that I must soon say momentary goodbyes to these hilarious people. However, the sadness is also balanced by a sense of anticipation, the knowing that this is just the end of one episode and the prelude to the next. So. Put on your headphones and keep paying attention. This album just isn't over yet.

Simile #2: EGYPT: Egypt and I have been together for years. Her blood is mine, and my blood is hers. The cycle of my time spent in Egypt strikes me as similar to the process of a relationship. When it all started out, it was shy first love and naivete. There was nothing without wonder and palpitating of the heart. All things filled me with a sense of awe and the mere hint of her sunlight filled me with unimaginable bliss. Yet, over time, as I learned to understand her language, got to know her modern family and settled into her embrace, I learned that we had irreconcilable differences. It wasn't that we had no love, it was that love just wasn't enough. Our love was a thing that had grown in the far, far past, glimmering in the eyes of Pharaonic death masks and hinted at in the subtle smiles of Hathor. Now, years into our turbulent relationship, the time has come for us to part. I intend on meeting up with the Watkins deeper in Africa, and I know she understands. I will not leave her for another - never! - it's just that our affection has grown stale and dusty as the hearth of colossal temples. Her ankh and ka will reside in me forever. I just can't do the same for her any longer. So, soon I say goodbye to you, my precious Egypt. It's has been sweet. But now, it is not. The time has come to go.

(Transcript of the spoken narrative in the video:)


According to Brandon's Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus, a family is a group of related plants, animals or things. Ammon would throw in a complicated something or two about genetics, Maggie would add that it's the group of nuts she has to deal with, Savannah instantly thinks of an army of beggars and Bre would say the word reminds her of a movie. But these names may mean nothing to you. Forgive me, I've not properly introduced the Watkins.

A is for Ammon, as in Amun, Amun-ra. Look up 'Ammon' in a thesaurus and the antonym would be 'wanker.' Ammon professes to be uncool because he's never cared about what others think, however this is one of many things that does make him cool. A genius scientist in his late 20s, already published in his field, Ammon is the Alice Cooper of the science community, Bill Nye with a head full of heavy metal, Mr. Wizard with a mohawk. In the creation of all videos, Ammon became an invaluable co-director and co-editor whom I could not have done without. It should go without saying - anyone who can argue both sides of an argument just for the fun of it belongs in my good books.

B is for Brandon, as in bombastic, a living antonym of 'banal.' In his early 50s, this is a man who actually does walk around with a dictionary in his back pocket - he who possesses "vernacular power!!" Every few days, Brandon introduces new, bizarre vocabulary into the lives of those around him. Look to Brandon for the self-deprecating, side-splitting humor. This is a man who can say and do absolutely anything with a straight face while the world rolls on the floor around him, and while Maggie rolls her eyes.

B is also for Breanna, sidekick of Brandon. If you've ever watched cartoons, you've seen a glimpse of Bre. She's the exaggerated, comical character whose head remains in the clouds. Someone who watches so many movies that her personality has become, over time, a conglomeration of scenes and characters. In her early 20s, Bre has lots of energy, doing flips and stretches with a smile plastered on her face. When I say that Bre belongs in one of those cheerleading movies, and then tell you that saying so makes her ecstatic, I think you get a taste for who she is.

M is for Maggie, the mom and mediator of this wild assortment. In her late 40s, Maggie seems to be the most normal of the bunch, though that still isn't saying much. Honest and genuine, with an inner flame that leaps out the moment someone tries to rip her off, Maggie wants the cheap price, the right price, and she wants it now! Down to earth and rational, Maggie's insistence to stop worrying and start living is inspiring. So far, it's brought the family this far and I have a feeling it will carry them all further.

S is for Savannah, strangest creature on this planet. In her late teens, Savannah defies all possible explanation. This the girl who, upon learning that the fruit she wanted to eat was rotten, just picked the worms out and ate those instead. Someone who has turned whining into a fine art. Savannah's victim, I mean boyfriend Grady seems to have an inlimited amount of patience with her antics. As Bre's younger sister, some of the typical sisterly 'love' is present. However, they tend to get along more than they get even.

After travelling around the world for over 2 years, touching down in over 35 countries, Egypt was where the lives of the Watkins crossed my own lifelines. Now that fate had brought us together I can only hope that fortune will keep it that way, for their presence in my life has been nothing but blessings. And who am I? Well. That's another story.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Messed up schedule

Well, it seems that we have picked the perfect hotel for the family to stay in. For those of you that know us, we have always been a late night crew and this hotel (the same we've always been in and is in the videos) is perfect. It only has 22 beds and most of the people that stay there are Japanese and/or long-termers like us that don't do the touristy thing everyday. Consequently, everyone stays up really late. Last night I slept at 5am and my whole room was still up (and I am in a different dorm because our group is too big). It'll be convenient because Ramadan is starting soon. Ramadan is the holy month where all Muslims are not supposed to eat, drink and a bunch of other things during daylight hours. Everyone is supposed to be really grouchy and travel is a horrible idea during that time generally so most tourists try to avoid countries like this during Ramadan. Funny enough, in true human form, rather than suffer through the restrictions, pretty much the entire country just becomes as nocturnal as possible during the month. We are already prepared. Hopefully we won't be here long to deal with it but we are still waiting on the Libyans and that could take a little time. We are preparing an exciting next leg for you guys though.
I promise this is the last you'll hear of me complaining about Egypt. The video is just a collection of our thoughts and comments on the crap we've dealt with here. Just the tip of the iceberg but you get the idea.


Sunday, September 02, 2007


Ok first of all this is the second time I am going to write this.. Uh, I hate computers, especially retarded ones that erase all my stuff.AHHHHHHHH

Things are going great! Making movies is a blast of course! But getting the reaction from you guys is the best part you know. Thats why you need to look at the videos. I loved running around and being crazy in the temples. Savannah and I got to scream at the top of our lungs, run down freaky small passageways, bolt around corners and crash into each other! Muahah! I can't wait to see it all put together.

Floating down the Nile River was something I always wanted to do and now I have, so I'm happy!! I got a great tan after being in the sun for so long. The water felt great compared to the blasted heat. I love jumping, diving and flipping off the bow.
Plus water and mud fights are awesome. Oh man, we got some great fighting shots from that now didn't we! The funniest part was when we were practicing the stunts, Savannah by accident kicked Rhiis in the nuts. AHAHAH SO funny! The things we do for the perfect shot! The nights were amazing! There's just something so wonderfully peaceful about sleeping in the open on a little boat under the bright stars that shine above. The shooting stars are so pretty. Talk about beautiful! Yey, make a wish!

The people in Luxor are annoying. Always trying to rip off the tourists. Well, watch out we fight back lol. The guys are always staring, uuuhh. Constantly asking if we want to marry them, make kissing noises, sneaking pictures and the ones who have the nerve to grab some rump get taught a serious lesson by the bodyguards in the group. They anhilated this one guy, for doing that already. I'm sure that guy will think twice next time.

I'm going to be random for a second but this just popped in my head. What's something you wouldn't/couldn't live without? Now skip the air, water, food and...obvious stuff.. I'll say music. Music is everything. It brings out so much in people I think. I'd go crazy without it. Ok you all should know by now that I love to quote movies and songs so here is a famous one from Lion King. "There's more to see then can ever be seen. More to do then can ever be done. There's far too much to take in and to find then can ever be found" etc etc Hah At least we try right! There's so much history here its hard to grasp it all. That's how life is I guess.

Right now though, I'm really missing home and everyone there. Don't think I don't think of you guys cuz I do. I've also been stretching lots still, I miss gymnastics, dance and cheerleading so much, I'm definately getting back in to all that when I get home when I know I will be there for a while, if you know what I mean.

Ok i'm going to say it.. I think its about time to leave Egypt, I want to hit the road again. I need more stamps in that dang passport. Hahah!!