Trip Start Oct 07, 2007
Trip End Oct 31, 2007

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Thursday, October 18, 2007

Plan: Qasr el-Ghueita & Ptolemaic Temple of Qasr el-Zayyan in the desert, then straight on to Luxor. Don't know how much time we will have in Luxor, as we come back to this city later in the trip. The hotel will most likely be a very nice treat after the week in the desert...
(ok, so instead of checking through everyone... if the link doesn't work, copy and paste.)

We got on the road early today, so after a short vist at Qasr el-Ghueita we were headed to Luxor in good time.  The one hiccup was that we were supposed to stop about 20-30 minutes outside of town to switch vehicles.  This is because the tourist police would have given Mohammed a hard time coming back out of the city (most likely a fine) if he entered in his 4x4 with passengers and then left shortly after without.  Apparently they think because he has foreigners in the car he somehow has tens of thousands of dollars to share on his way back out of the city.  When we stopped at the rest station however, the new van to meet us had not shown up and the guides cell phones were without a signal.

We drove further towards Luxor where we finally got within cell phone range and after a few conversations that I am sure, without knowing the language, were basically letting the other driver have it, he finally showed up, we had our luggage switched over and had to say 'So long' to Muhammed who had been our driver throughout almost our entire dessert adventure, and wished him a safe drive back.(He was going to be driving all the way back to Bahariya the same day which is at least 8 more hours).  He is an incredible guy that not only knew the ways of the dessert to drive us safely but also helped set up camp each night, prepared meals and kept Wael on his toes at all times.  We also found out one night while we were all talking that he is actually a Lawyer as well, coming from a very smart family, which explained his good negotiating and debate skills.

Arriving in Luxor allowed us the ability to finally cash our remaining traveller's cheques which was a nice sigh of relief not having to worry about money or depend on others anymore when needing Egyptian currency rather than American funds.

We checked in at our hotel, the Iberotel, which so far is very nice.  The lobby is a wideopen courtyard style that extends all the way up the inside of the building with the rooms overlooking it from the inside.  The roof is semi-transparent letting a lot of natural light shine through during the day and give it a really nice welcoming atmosphere.  We sat with Wael and Rado in the lobby for a while waiting to see if word on their airplane tickets would arrive but it was taking a while so we went for a very authentic Mcdonald's lunch.  There is something very strange about looking out the window of a Mcdonalds and seeing an ancient stone temple.

We enjoyed our last lunch together, joking around and recalling some very strong memories built up over the last few days and then found an internet cafe that we would be able to vist later(which is actually now as I type this).  We showed them a few photos of Vancouver so that they would know what we call home and a few pictures of family etc. from Ashleys collection of photos on her facebook account.
We wandered back to the hotel shortly after.  We were talking about family and Wael told me to call my brother and see if he had his scores for is SAT back yet.  The first thing was assuring my mom I was calling for good reasons and not to worry as I woke her from a dea sleep I am sure (It was 5am in BC).  It was great to hear her and my Dad's voice and hear that everything was going good back home (Keep striking guys out Brando) and give them a mini update.

We then said our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch.  The trip has been a far better experience because not only were we able to find out some very interesting facts, see some amazing monuments and beautiful sites but we were also able to make great new friends on the trip.

Luxor is definately a tourist town and it is that much more apparent after finishing the desert portion of our trip.  We were surrounded by very authentic people that were so resourceful, generous and kind and then a day later we were being followed down the street by two or three guys all trying to offer a trip, a boat ride, a piece of jewlerly, you name it so it definately isn't as easy to immerse ourselves in the culture.  Definately looking forward to the train tomorrow and our first experience of Aswan.

- Ben

The only thing Ben didn't mention was the time we spent reminiscing about our time in the desert after saying our goodbyes: Mohammed's unparalled skill in too many areas, his trade mark laugh, and devilish smile when giving Wael hard time; Rado's enthusiam for Egyptian history and timeline, his love for Steven Segal and funny black-americans, his quotes ("You want me to die man?" from Vietam-era movies), and his need to win "Coupe Ferrer" as he called it, at all costs; Wael's chivalry, advice, political discussions, opinions and surprised giggles.. We had a wonderful time with this trio and it made it really hard to say good bye.
One chapter is certainly over, and far too soon.

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