ARAGORN ... Not all those who wander are lost (JRR Tolkien)
While in Egypt we did the obligatory tours of the Pyramids, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, and we also tripped up the Nile above the Aswan high dam. We also took the opportunity to fly to Jordan, primarily to see Petra. While we took a whole pile of photos, we are only posting a few of the "monuments" (so you know we went there), but also some of the people and more personal things we did. (If you want a lot of tourist photos, either email us, or look at a coffee table book of Egypt!)
The people in Egypt were interesting. This country probably has had tourism longer than any other. The Greeks and Romans used to visit the monuments here over 2500 years ago, when the structures were a mere 1000 years old. Thus the Egyptian has a native sense of what kind of business he may get from tourists. Actually, many of the Egyptians are just like many of the other people we met around the world. They are interested in who we are and where we came from. They liked the fact that we sailed to Egypt and took the time to visit their country. But they also had to ask for some business before any conversation was done. If you said a polite "no", there was no issue, but it got so pervasive that we began to joke about it. It's simply 3500 years of making money from tourists. The other thing we noticed were the incredible contrasts between the modern and the older way of life: a Mercedes next to a donkey cart in a modern city with camel barns.
Okay class, what are these. Well, you know we were there at least. It is neat to see the one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that is still standing. Hard to see how these would fall down....
We were there about noon, very near the vernal equinox. We notice the sun's rays shown almost exactly parallel with the north side of the pyramid. How did they keep the angle just equal to ninety degrees minus their latitude north?
We saw a model shoot there too!
But let's start chronologically. Soon after we arrived in Egypt, we went to Aswan (home of the high dam) to take a tour of Lake Nasser (above the dam) aboard the river boat Kasa Ibrihim. As David and Claire Lewis (J160 CONDOR) had already planned the trip, we simply had to piggyback on their tour!
Above, the Kasa Ibrihim
To the Right "Like your new boat, David?"
One dramatic modern contrast was the view of the women making flatbread (delicious) for the boat trip... in a traditional oven just at the end of the gangway for the river boat.
Of course, the oven with the 3500-year-old design was fired by propane, but the garb made up for it.
Abu Simbal was the last stop on our three-day riverboat trip. This is Ramses II's temple, with four large images of himself outside. (Of all the sights we saw in Egypt, we saw more images of Ramses II ... he really had his face plastered around, like a good politician.) This was a spectacular sight, and an masterwork of the ancients. But is also a modern marvel of engineering, for when the Aswan dam was built, an international consortium helped Egypt lift this entire temple up, to save it from the rising lake waters.
Dick and Leslie outside, David and Claire inside.
On the boat, the cabin crew would get creative each night with a new "bed sculpture", using some of the personal effects we left in the cabin, like books and sunglasses.
Luxor by plane was our next stop. Again great temples (Karnac, Luxor, another Ramses II), and the Valley of the Kings, with the tombs of many pharaohs. The street signs were interesting...
Leslie with our guide Adell, and Clarie and David Lewis in the Valley of the Kings.
In the temple of Karnac, we found this stone, which appears to be a source for a Gary Larsen cartoon:
Leslie also has tried to buy the number "3" for our house in several different places. Here a stonemason is carving the number (in arabic numbers) for Leslie. The man on the left is working alabaster.
Dick's present was his first camel ride.Smile like you're happy.
We were most impressed by the contrasts in Egypt. Here are some:
Local farmer with his version of the pickup truck.
Boys taking the cane to the processor... check out the young girls in pink.
One man on his transportation on the way to work on a chilly morning. We loved the garb the men wore.
The Egyptian men had very expressive faces, maybe from the dry heat?
Some of the traditional ways were turned into tourist events, such as the feluccas sailing up and down the Nile. They are actually very handy boats, weatherly and nimble.
The Egyptians took security seriously. There were several "tourist convoys" per day to and from Luxor and other key places. With police at both ends, and other traffic prohibited from coming near, we thought it was a bit "over the top".
Until the bombings in the tourist market in Cairo and in Sharm el Shiek....
But we never were afraid, and thought things were secure.
The Egyptian public must have agreed, as the school kids were on field trips to many of the sights.
These boys were as interested in getting their photos taken as what their guide was telling them about the ancient temple. But it is good that the kids can live the years of history in their land.
There is much, much more to Egypt, but this page is long enough. So, like the kid above, we wave goodbye...
Copyright 2005, Richard W. York