Cario, Egypt

The Islamic new year arrived on a Friday, which meant we did not get an official three-day weekend, but I took one day of leave and headed off to Egypt. Egypt has always been a place I wanted to see. I have taught about square pyramids for the last fifteen years why would I not want to see them in person. Oh, might be the troubles they are having there during this time.. Well, things are pretty peaceful right. Well, we were to have a long weekend and a tour came up with a tour group I used when I went to Vietnam, I took the plunge and booked the trip. So off I went to finally see the Nile, pyramids,and the Sphinx. We arrived to a lovely sunny day into a rather surprising small airport. We were met by a local man who helped us get our bags and visas. We trudged our way through inspection amongst groups of people with luggage piled high on their carts waiting patiently to be inspected. It was interesting watching who they opened bags and those they just waved through,we were ones that were just waved through luckily. And we were off to the streets of Cairo, through traffic I haven’t seen since, Juarez, there were four lanes with five lanes of cars. The honking and jostling for position was very entertaining, just glad I don’t I have to drive that every day. We drove around the Olympic park (1960) a couple of times until we were able to disembark and visit the walled part of the old city. We went shopping, ate dinner, and walked around amazed at the sights and sounds of….hi, you american? I love Americans, come see my shop, have a cup of tea, what do you want, we love Americans….I really felt I was in Juarez. I did managed to buy an appliqué table runner without any problems. We ended the day on these boats with garish lights and loud music that run up and down the Nile. It was a truly interesting experience to end the evening listening to country music on this boat. We finally made it back to our bus and hotel and collapsed. The next morning we were up early and off to the pyramids. The height and size of the stone blocks are amazing. The guide said it was built as an offering to the Gods with labor offered during the time of year one could not work on their farm. Our guide had such a lovely way of presenting harsh facts in a whitewashed approach. During the weekend the story of Moses was told in such a way I almost did not recognize it. How he was able to blend Islamic and Christianity into one story was different, but I would just start reading my book when he would start to digress into areas I would not prefer to li sten to. I went into the pyrfor a bit until I came to the ladder you had to crawl up surrounded by a solid rock tunnel and thought to myself, not sure with my ankle would I be able to get down? So I turned around and went back out of the pyramid. We headed over to the Sphinx next, and it was amazing. There really isn’t another word that comes to mind, it is smaller but oh so regal sitting there in the midst of all that sand. The nice part of being in Egypt right now is the crowds are a tad fewer. I could not image how many tourist there used to be before the troubles. We also managed to squeeze in a camel ride for an hour around the nine pyramids. That was fun, it reminded me of riding horses when I was younger except it was hotter and the saddle was a tad bit bigger, oh and I was wearing flip-flops. When he said to just kick the camel I kept saying it just doesn’t work well with flip flops….but we all had a grand time going up and around the pyramids. Off to lunch at a local restaurant, then the museum. They are building a new museum by the pyramids and it should be done the next couple years, Inshallah, and do they need a new museum. The current one has open windows, poor lighting and it was hard to see many of the exhibits due to the height of them. I can not image the damage being done to the artifacts in an unair-conditioned facility. We were not allowed to take any photos which was really a shame because the artifacts were outstanding from mummies, coffins, gold, jewelry, papyrus writings, carvings, to King Tuts tomb, which was over the top. There were pieces that I have never seen on display in the states, pieces of mummies I never want to see again, jewelry that I would like to see photos of again. There was so much to see in so little time. We ended the day on a sailing dhow on the Nile. As the sun set we were served pastries, coffee and tea, though some drank a cold beer in relief from all the touring,we had done that day. It was so quiet and peaceful as we sailed up and down the river. The next day was a bit slower of a start. We went into the oldest section. We saw a Russian Orthodox Catholic Church, Jewish Synagogue ( there are still 60 Jewish families in Cairo), and an operating Catholic Church that was having mass while we were there visiting. The buildings were fascinating, we even had a tourist policeman with us on the bus tour all morning. There were guards and vehicles, heavy armor ones all over the city section protecting us, I guess to make us feel safe or keep the buildings safe from destruction. They are serious about keeping the tourist areas safe. We then caught our flight back to Abu Dhabi and back to work the next day. All in all I would do it again, the people,were very friendly, the city is interesting and the pyramids are something to see in person. I have to admit I am glad I was with a tour group.

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