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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:41 pm  |  Posted from: United Kingdom

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Tonight 31st October 9pm - 10pm Channel 5

Some members here may know, or know of, Maryanne Stroud Gabbani the lady who is featured tonight.

Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild

by Gary Rose
If you've been watching this series, you'll have seen Maryanne in the opening titles. She's the lady who, when asked "Would you describe yourself as fearless?", barks back, "No! FIERCE!" The 67-year-old former Californian lives with 14 dogs on the edge of the Sahara desert. Not in a Bedouin tent, though – she's on a smallholding, with solar power, cows, goats and a veg patch.

Such self-sufficiency is a good idea in an unstable economy. But she still relies on the local market, which, if you removed the cars, would look like something from the Middle Ages. And this is where her toughness becomes evident, as she haggles for a goat while a fight rumbles on in the background.

The host journeys to North Africa, to live with American widow Maryanne on the farm she's built on the edge of the Sahara. He discovers why she swapped her city abode for a simpler and tougher way of life in the Egyptian desert.

Image Experience is not what happens to you;
it is what you do with what happens to you.
-Aldous Huxley

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:10 pm  |  Posted from: Egypt

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Fascinating programme Hepzibah. Thanks for posting. I'd have missed it otherwise.

I find Ben Fogle a bit....superfluous.... but Maryanne is one feisty lady! Her late husband referred to her as a "tank"!

Obviously, her circumstances are quite unique....widowed after 20 years or so married to a successful wealthy Egyptian businessman ( who died flying his private plane from Germany), she was able to relocate to a rural area with a fair amount of money to live "The Good Life" ...very different to the rich expat life she lived in Alexandria. Being fluent in Arabic and with a no-nonsense attitude she doesn't have any problem integrating....despite being a white foreign woman.

She sets up a sort of animal care/ veterinary service and also looks after several horses and dogs. She reminded me, in some ways, of a German lady I know who has devoted ner life to running an animal rescue centre outside Hurghada.

Her opening remarks about security issues in Egypt were were Ben Fogle's perception of Egypt. The typical tourist view I'd say...worries about the civil unrest....the squalor. A drive through the Cairo suburbs seemed to shock him. I doubt the tourism industry will find anything positive in his remarks!.

As for Maryanne...she's obviously found immense satisfaction in her life and emotional compensation for the traumatic loss of her husband.

She ends by saying she can't imagine a better life and intends without question to spend the rest of her life in Egypt...confident she's so part of the community that they will support her emotionally and practically as she grows older.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:53 pm  |  Posted from: United Kingdom

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Thanks for the heads up on this one Hepzi as I would have missed it, I managed to watch it on the Demand 5 channel. I think it showed the real Egypt that many of us would recognise, unfortunately as Newcastle said it will do very little to encourage tourism as there was a lot of negativity towards security and the current political situation. I thought that her story was very typical of a person in her position, obviously she had big problems after her husbands death and in all honesty she probably was lucky to get out by the skin of her teeth financially. I am sure that I spotted a Saluki amongst her pack of dogs and as usual I am always amazed at how little the average Egyptian seems to know about animal care considering that they are a rural farming community, OK they may not have the medication required but some ailments are easily dealt with without medication. I liked the fact that she swigged Stella with a gusto and lived her life to her own rules, I truly hope that she does manage to live the rest of her life as she would wish to, but could not help detecting that she was maybe a bit more concerned about her future in Egypt and what it may hold than actually came over in the program. She is undoubtedly a very determined woman, but her vulnerability showed through when she spoke of riding her horse in the desert at night after the death of her husband and how her horse kept her sane, it was something that I empathised with as I looked at my own little dog.


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