Carrots & Fossils (but no fossilized carrots)

Our weekend trip to the commissary had a lovely detour this weekend. Before we hit the highlights of Silk soy milk and stuffing preparations, we took two friends to go explore the Wadi Digla Protectorate (like a national park). It’s this amazing 30 kilometer landscape of rock formations, valleys, hills, caves and desert, and is full of petrified wood and fossils dating back 60 million years (apparently it was once a riverbed reaching from the Nile to the Gulf of Suez). It was designated an official protectorate in 2001, and for the most part is in fairly good litter-free conditions.

We only spent a few hours poking about, and didn’t get to explore any caves (we hear there are bats – yeah!!), but it was great fun just wandering, driving about, stopping and finding all kinds of fossils! At one point as the three of us women were wandering and taking photos, I heard this banging and looked around to see Ron smashing rocks. ?!?!? Are we four? But after a few futile attempts to get him to stop banging rocks, I just let him bash away. We definitely need to bring our nephews here (Colin – 5, and Max – 2 ½) so all three “boys” can bash rocks.

We did take this opportunity to finally try out our 4-wheel drive on the Jeep. Sadly, we first had to sit in the car and read the manual. (Hey, I’m a Cabrio girl, what the heck do I know about 4-wheeling? How to drive and tie your hair back, that I can help with.) So I believe we successfully put the Jeep through the 4-wheeling test, without reenacting any Jeep-flying-over-sand-dune-advertisement antics.

After our explorations, and once we’d all reached definite parched-state, we did our shopping and then headed home. Saw a few fun sights, but not as many as usual.

However, Ron, feeling a whim, decided that we should stop and buy some carrots from one of the street vendors on the way home. We’d heard that the red carrots that are in season are really good. So we randomly chose one cart, pulled up and attempted to buy one kilo of carrots. As the seller and Ron bartered back and forth, he stood there and “peeled” a large carrot and handed it to me. I took it, but did not taste it as I had watched him “peel” it with a rusted mini-scythe that I had a strong feeling had also been used to clean under toenails at some point. When he saw I wasn’t tasting it, he peeled a smaller one, took the big one back, slit it down the middle, and handed it back to me, so now I had two and felt like I was holding carrot popsicles. But I still didn’t taste them. The bartering continued, as he desperately wanted us to buy about 10 kilos, or fill up our backseat with carrots. Ron kept reiterating “ONE KILO”, and at one point the man turned and muttered something and Ron said, “I think he just cussed at me.” Fair enough, we finally managed to get a smaller bushel, but probably about 2-3 kilos. As we drove on, Ron delighting in the ability to buy carrots from our car (that and smashing rocks, big day), we realized that we were now passing carts that had smaller purple carrot-looking things, which suddenly dawned on us were the actual red carrots. We had just argued over regular carrots. So, feeling confident from our first purchase, we pulled over again and our friend, Lindsey, got out to get us some red carrots. This exchange also took an inordinate amount of time. At one point she thought he said, “Do you want them in a bag?” and she said yes. But he really said, “Do you want them in the trunk?” which certainly implied a larger quantity. It finally worked out and the carrots, despite looking like purple gnarly hobbit toes, actually tasted really good – lighter and sweeter than regular carrots. Either way, we now have bushels of both in our kitchen. I think carrot muffins, carrot soup and carrot stuffing are on the menu for Thanksgiving this year.