Nov 17, 2012

Trip Start Nov 09, 2012
Trip End Nov 25, 2012

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pigeon towers (Emily)
Pigeon towers look a lot like hindu temples. Kind of fat bee hives with sticks coming out of them. Apparently people raise and eat them. Cheep meat...I'm not sure why we don't do it in the states. I really am hoping to eat one before I come home. The trick it seems, to be to convince our guide that I really am serious.

Camel Ride (Emily)
This was more of a priority than you might think. The fifteen minutes we rode out into the desert was something my kids had looked forward to for months. Even so, Eden started screaming when she was loaded up on our mountain of a camel. She and I shared a camel named Mickey Mouse. He was big and hairy and decked out in an elaborate tourist saddle. Camels are hard to ride. I griped my daughter (still screaming) with my arm and my camel with my legs and we rocked our way down a hill. Once things leveled out Eden calmed down and I think almost enjoyed the experience. We walked along looking back at the huge pyramids. We dismounted and then went to take pictures of Mary holding the pyramid.

Inside pyramids (Emily)
Tourists are like children. We want to touch and do everything. But I think we are better behaved if we don't have cameras. At least I think that is the rational behind not letting tourists have cameras inside of the pyramids. We left our gear with our guide and started in down the shaft to the tomb. Eden could walk straight up most of the way but everyone else was bent in half we would have crawled had it not been as steep. Ive never been one for claustrophobia but the press o sweaty tourists and the fact that I was crawling through stone to get to a tomb made me worry about just how much air was pumpedin. We finally arrived in a room roughly the size of my basement. It was completely empty except for a stone box with a lid pulled to the side. We waited for the last of the previous tour group to leave and then we jumped in. Everyone took turns laying in the sarcophagus. I just couldn't pass up the chance to have done it. Good thing they took my camera. Im not sure what else I would have done.

Lunch (David)
after seeing the sphinx we were all hot tired and most of all hungry. in our car we were treated to lunch buckets, just like the ones hanging from the trees in Return to Oz, only instead of jelly sandwiches there was a delicious combination of pasta, rice, lentils and onions. The lentils portrayed meat with scrumptious sincerity. want hot sauce? just bite into a tied off plastic bag and squirt in on. If you are like David then your visual tolerance for spice is far greater than you actually tolerance for spice and had to drink your complimentary Pepsi and your UHT milk in a hurry. Hunger was sated. Palates were broadened. Hearts were filled.

Revolution square (Mary)
Our guide told us that revolution puts a dent in the tourism business. She says that since last year, tourism is down, but finally beginning to turn up again. Americans, the Dutch and French, many people feeling scared about going to Egypt. She explained that 2 million people worked in tourism, and many of them have sought work in other fields, like teaching. She was in favor of the revolution, and her husband was a part of it. She wasnt marching in the street because her husband said it was too dangerous, but she supported it. He also supported the Jordanian revolution, but wished at they would wait a little bit to revolt--he had a group of Australian tourists coming in. They watch the news 24 hours, gaging the political situation to see how it would impact their tourism work. We drove into the "square" which was actually the intersection and roundabout oaf busy roads. Still, our guide glowed when she recounted how the people in the buildings around the square provided blankets, food, water to be protesters. "In Jordan," she said with faint derision"they protest for one hour a day and then come home." The revolution was a great optimistic feat that she felt as a triumph of the common egptan people. Still, looking at be burned out building where the gunfire and flames had raged, it's hard not to realize how close this accomplishment came to destroying the triumph of the uncommon Egyptian people; the Egyptian museum stands within what might be called "a stone's throw."

Emily had arranged a guide for us for the day, which was an immense boon. As we began to pull away from the port, a policeman stopped us and informed us that we would be part of a tourist convoy. Sure enough, about eight huge touring buses and several smaller vans like ours made up a convoy with policemen in front and on the sides, sirens blaring. It was hard to know whether to feel more or less safe, with a huge sign saying "Here are the tourists - come and get 'em!" Our driver didn't put up with the convoy's slow pace for long, and soon after we left Port Said he broke out of formation and left them behind. Driving in Egypt is an experience. Horns are pretty constant, but rather more melodious then in America. There is no such thing as a long, sustained blast. Horns either toot or sing, more to say "Here I am!" than "I hate you!" (Which every American horn seems to say). Also, where lane dividers exist, they do so more as a guideline than a rule, and I was not surprised to see them disappear entirely on the highway into Cairo. Families run across highways, sometimes inches from the quickly moving cars, and donkey carts laden heavily with (not very well secured) fruits and vegetables vie with open trucks laden heavily with (not very well secured) farm workers. As we moved into the suburbs of Cairo, we noticed apparently unfinished buildings - empty windows, with rebar protruding from the roof. At the time we thought ourselves too polite to ask our guide how so MANY buildings had apparently run out of funding before being finished, but later our guide told us that there has been a tax placed on completed buildings, so the completed apartments are inside the unfinished super-structures.

When we arrived at the pyramids (!!!) our guide began showing us around. As we sat and stared up at the immensity of the great pyramid (which you can actually see from the road out of Cairo), we noticed several young women pointing camera phones in our direction. Then a few more came. Eventually one very patient woman came up and asked our guide if she could take our picture. Then a whole gaggle of young women were there snapping away. Eventually they asked if they could have their pictures taken with us. This bizarre celebrity continued everywhere we went - young men and women would start by surreptitiously pulling out their camera phones before coming up and asking to stand near us. Many of them knew basic English, and seemed anxious to practice ("Hello! What is your name? What is your nationality?") When we went inside the smaller pyramid, we were again treated like celebrities - men stood aside and eagerly motioned us past, and in the main tomb, one man eagerly explained to us what the inscription on the wall (made by an italian adventurer in 1912) meant, and what he had found there (nothing). I would have been flattered, but the guys were every bit as excited to have their pictures taken with Dave and Sam (one guy even tried to kiss Sam on the cheek) as with any of us.
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Beth on

Such wonderful experiences! Sounds like this was an excellent guide and you were able to do all you wanted in Egypt.

thanks for posting these--Dad and I watch for them eagerly.

We are thinking we should be getting Mary's plane ticket for Christmas. Mary, would you please email us the dates you want to come and leave?

We love you all! I'm so glad that Sam and Eden got to play on the playground. What good children they are. We miss them! We will have Grandma Camp when you come home!

Bryn on

So exciting! I love, love your commentary!

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