Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Egypt: Sand or Dust?

Contrary to popular belief, Egypt doesn't have "sand" dunes or any type of the granular sand we usually see on seashores.  Egypt's deserts are made of a very fine dirt, resembling dust.  Like the 1930s Dust Bowl in America when the dirt was so light it could be carried on the wind across hundreds of miles, Egypt's duststorms can reach across the Red Sea and into neighboring Middle Eastern nations.

Egyptian duststorm blowing east across the Red Sea into Saudi Arabia.

When there's an actual duststorm (which happens about once a year), the dust is so thick outside that you can barely breathe and visibility is cut to about thirty yards.  Everyone stays inside, but the dust sneaks under doors and coats the nearby floor within hours.

Cairo as a duststorm begins to move in.

Even when there isn't a duststorm, the constant wind blows the fine dust through every crack and crevice in an apartment.  It's a housekeeping nightmare. 
  • In one day, the dust isn't visible but if you run your finger on a floor or table, the beige dust will coat your fingertip.
  • After two days, you can see the dull coating on furniture and floors.
  • After five days, the dust is so thick you can write your name in it.
  • Within two weeks, the dust covers floors, counters, furniture, mirrors, everything so thickly it looks like an attic where no one's been, much less cleaned, in years. 
I'm not a great housekeeper to begin with, and the dust is a very determined foe, so it usually wins!  

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