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21.8.09

Egypt... Amazing, wonderful and full of history.


(Sorry about the late posting of this... This part of the journey was taken on August 16th Sunday)

As we are cruising up the river, I am sitting here reflecting on the history of this area.

You read about the history in childhood Bible stories and such and file facts away. Then a lot of the time, you never have reason to retrieve them. I am finding it very interesting the religious significance that this area has had.

Moses was found in the rushes in the upper Nile delta. Several of the Pharaohs have the name Moses in their names... Ra Moses. There was a famous battle fought in Kadesh (of Kadesh Barnea fame in the Bible). I need to look that one up.

My thought are feeling really random right now. There is so much to absorb and process.

I know for certain that the pictures that I have seen do not do this are a justice. This is one of those things you need to experience with an open mind.

This morning we toured the Valley of the Kings, and the Valley of the Queens with our guide for the week Wayed (why ed) He is a trained Egyptologist and a fountain of information.

Both Doug and I were amazed by the color on the walls that have stood the test of time. It is particularly noticeable in the inner portions of the tombs and temples. Colors that are so intense and rich that there really is nothing comparable in the western world. Rich indigo and red ocher that pop with intensity. The indigo reminds me of the first blue, night sky that I saw in 7 months, sitting on the patio of the Nile Palace Hotel in Luxor. It was absolutely incredible.

I think of all of the sights I saw today the one that impacted me the most was the Tomb of Ramses VI (KV 9). Not only are the color vibrant, but the way down into it is very steep. This tomb is unique in that there are two Ramses buried there. The tomb was started by Ramses V and continued y Ramses VI. From what we were told and is known, the tomb was first ransacked only 20 years after it was built. Because of this both mummies were moved to the tomb of Amenhotep II tomb, and now reside in Cairo. The plastering on the tomb walls was never finished.

Let me digress in saying the plaster in nothing like what we think of plaster as. Even the plaster that they use on historical restorations is not the same. This is a limestone based plaster that almost reminds me of a thin-set mortar. It is not flaky and to the touch it is very “concreety” in texture.

Even though the plastering was not finished, the pictures on it are very impressive. There is a an impressive painting on the ceiling that represents the book of gates, book of caverns, and the book of heavens. (You will have to google them if interested in finding more out.) There is a painting further in of the goddess Nut framing he books of the day and the night on the ceiling. I think I spent half my time looking up and trying to absorb all of the images. Alas, people have always been the same and there is lots of Greek graffiti that dates back to around 150 AD or so.

About two hours ago we set sail for Aswan. Right now we are going up the Nile River. I am sitting in our room watching the countryside pass by and snapping pictures from our balcony. It is absolutely fascinating to see just how much things are the same through out the farming world. The crops here are planted in nice even rows, the irrigation trenches are neatly laid out and the farmers are out checking on their cops. It reminds me a lot of the area along the Mississippi River in Missouri and down to Louisiana. If it were not for the palm trees and the dunes in the distance, I would be able to close my eyes and imagine the sounds of the Louisiana Delta.

The Nile valley is a fascinating place to be. There are so much contrasts. There are areas here that date back to the earliest of Egyptian history periods. Yet so much of the history here relates to the last period of Egyptian history with Alexander the Great's, Macedonian General Ptolemy and it being ruled by his descendants. It is fascinating to me that people of a different religion could rule and work in a foreign country so long ago and yet respect the religion and traditions of the people for around 300 years. They not only set an example for the Romans, but also for us in modern times. A lesson that is so often lost on us.

Well, I must close this update for now as tea will shortly be served by the pool and I have a date with a cappuccino.

Fast Forward 3 days...

We have toured the tombs and temples of the great rulers of the Egyptian empire and have been dually impressed. The technique and the skill that was needed to create these fantastic masterpieces is amazing. The mathematical skill as well as the technology and the labor was beyond anything undertaken today I believe.

We have met some wonderful people while on this trip. Two couples from Melbourne Australia. We have been inspired by their travels and entertained by their stories and photos. They are on the last part of 5 week holiday. They went on an African Safari, and now I have been bitten by that bug. The stories they told about sitting in a jeep and seeing the animals up close were so incredible. They were with us from Luxor to Aswan and we parted company last night. They are continuing on to Jordan, which should be fascinating during Ramadan, and then home.

Again fast forward another day...

Today we got into Cairo after riding the train from Aswan to Cairo over night... Sleeper trains are cool, but I prefer a real bed in a real hotel. It was bumpy most of the time but it was fun.

When we got in, we were met by a tour guide representative who informed us we were 2 hours late... like we had a choice in the matter? Anyway, he delivered us to the hotel and our tour guide for the 2 days we have schedules things for.

When we got to Cairo, we switched guides. We had a wonderful young lady from Alexandria named Engy showing us her Cairo these past two days. She is absolutely amazing with her knowledge and passion for her country. Both Doug and I really enjoyed being with her. It was like touring with a good friend. (If anyone is interested in doing a trip to Egypt, let me know. I have her contact information and she does whole country tours as well.

We met Engy at the Ramses Hilton. she was so gracious. Our train ws 2 hours late getting in and she still had a smile on her face. We had time to clean up and then we were off to the Pyramids.

We went to Memphis, Sakara, the Giza Pyramids, Sphinx, papyrus museum (sales store), perfume factory (fascinating), and an Egyptian cotton store.

It was fascinating to put the history from the tombs and temples of the Nile Valley together with the Pyramids and their history and actually see the tombs of some of the Pharaohs. Engy was so patient with us and our questions, I am sure many of them seemed silly.

I am discovering that when you have a tour guide it is important to have one who loves the country that they live in. If they are a native it is even better because they have a true passion for the history and the people.

Today we went to the Coptic church, Hanging church, several other churches and then to the Egyptian Museum. All were absolutely fascinating. (More posts will follow on this.) I believe that it is important to have a tour guide through the Egyptian Museum. This way you have someone to tie things together for you. I saw many people there who had mystified looks on their faces and it was apparent that they were totally confused by things.

We were sad to see Engy go when it was time to part. We feel we have truly made a friend in this short time we had.

So anyway, on the 22 we head for Abu Dhabi and then gather stuff up and head for home.

Home... that seems kind of like a foreign word right now... During the time I have been over here, I have thought of the States, but did not anticipate returning home so soon. I am pleased that I did accomplish so much in so little time. I hope that all of our friends stay in touch through out the years. All of our friends we have made will always have a special place in our hearts.


For more photos of this trip see either my facebook page or my picasa site...