March 30, 2008

If I See One More Temple....

I might have to throw myself in the Nile, which would be on par with taking a dip in the Hudson or East rivers in New York. But instead of floating next to a dead body from a drug deal gone bad, you might find yourself encountering a soggy mummy who never made it into the Egyptian Museum. I don't mean to lessen the magnificence of the temples that we have seen, but after visiting two or three in the blazing sun....well, you kind of get the point - they liked really big columns, statues and absolutely LOVED to write hieroglyphs on anything and everything that had a surface to do so. I guess when you invent the first written language you have  a lot of things to say. An unexpected addition to the trip was my very dear friend Heather's husband Tim who along with offering his tremendous wit and go-with-the-flow- attitude to the group, was quite skilled in deciphering exactly what this ancient text was saying - and let me tell you, parts can read like a Ken Follet novel.
Over the past week, Egypt has become an endurance test of trains, planes, automobiles and well...camels ,which mostly run on "Egyptian Time"  (15 Egypt minutes = 1 American hour) and absolutely no emissions control. There are over 21 million people in Cairo without access to an effective Metro system so traffic and smog might actually beat Los Angeles in the 2008 Beijing Pollution Olympics. But it's worth having constant pep talks with your respiratory system in order to stand in the midst of such incredible history; history which seems to stretch on forever through the vast desert plains which are still being excavated daily, keeping archaeologists from just about every country with good job security. And so, day by day, we chip away at the surface of what is already on display. Sometimes visiting a sight can make you feel like an English explorer from the 1800's coming upon it's majesty for the first time - for instance when Tim and I got to be the ONLY people at the Giza Pyramids at sunset with some camels, a crazy guide named Solomon and a bottle of wine. And other times you feel as though you have just purchased a Disnetland ticket to the Valley of the Kings.
The traffic and smog, the breezy Felucca (sailboat) rides on the Nile, the extreme heat and dining under a full moon next to illuminated temple ruins make Egypt a seductive dichotomy that deserves more time than just scratching the surface.

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