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Day 22 / Last Day – Cairo

Well, today is the last day of my trip. We are chillaxin and just going to the museum.  This museum was built in 1902 and has over 120,000 items. During the 2011 revolution it was broken into and two mummies were reportedly destroyed. Alexei tells me there is a lot of great stuff there, but, that the building is getting old and there is a plan to build a new one.  He says it is crowded, dark and just…old.  

I thought it was perfect!

We weren’t allowed to take pictures, so I am inserting pictures from Wikipedia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a lot of stuff! We went into the display for King Tutankhamun and saw his gold mask and that was cool. But, I really felt an impact when I saw a statue of Akhenaten. I don’t have a picture of it, but, here is another one:

Akhenaten was originally named Amenhotep IV and ruled Egypt for about 17 years. He died around 1336 BC.  For many years he was called the “Heretic Pharaoh” and was all but lost from history.

Akhenaten believed in Aten who he declared was a universal deity,  the ALL-encompassing Creator, and the only God. The symbolic representation of Aten is a rayed solar disc, in which the rays are commonly depicted as ending in hands. A sort of “hieroglyphic footnote” that accompanied the symbol stated that the symbol was only “a representation of something that, by its very nature as some time – transcending creation, cannot be fully or adequately represented by any one part of that creation”.

Some modern historians say that Akhenaten was the original monotheistic ruler, appearing almost two centuries before the first archaeological and written evidence of Judaism and Israelite culture.

Some liken aspects of Akhenaten’s relationship with the Aten to the relationship of Jesus with God. Akhenaten referred to himself as the son of the sole god:  “Thine only son that came forth from thy body”; “Thy son who came forth from thy limbs”; “thy child’, etc.  He placed a heavy emphasis on the heavenly father and son relationship. This close relationship between father and son meant that only the king truly knew the heart of his father and that the father listened to his son’s prayers.

 

 As you can imagine, the traditional priesthood did not like this. During his reign, Akhenaten embarked upon a wide scale erasure of the traditional god’s names. He shifted funding away from the traditional temples.  Eventually, he moved the royal court out of Thebes/Luxor and into Armana, a new city he built for the Aten. The priests were not happy at all.

For many years people believed Akhenaten neglected Egypt’s foreign affairs in favor of his internal reforms.  But the recent discovery of Armana in the 19th century by Flinders Petrie and the finding of the Armana corpus of 380 + letters showed that Akhenaten was, indeed, involved in the affairs of Egypt. He appears to have tended more toward diplomacy than war. That sounds good to me, but, I wonder how his Generals felt about it.

Akhenaten changed the style of art during his reign, encouraging a more naturalistic representation of life by adding a sense of action and movement. Significantly, and for the only time in the history of Egyptian royal art, Akhenaton’s’ family were shown taking part in naturalistic activities, caught in mid-action, and showing affection. By contrast, in the traditional art form, a pharaoh’s divine nature was expressed by repose, even immobility.

 

 A lot of discussion continues with regard to Akhenaton’s physical appearance.  I read some almost scornful comments that his body was effeminate and misshapen, so different from the athletic norm in the portrayal of pharaohs.

 

 There have been discussions that he could have had various genetic abnormalities that would have caused the physical attributes of being taller than average, a long, thin face, long curved spider –like fingers, sunken chest, larger breasts, sagging stomach, thick thighs, spindly calves, etc.

There is also a discussion that the body-shape depicted relates to some form of religious symbolism because the god Aten was referred to as “the mother and father of all humankind”. It is suggested that Akhenaten was made to look androgynous in artwork as a symbol of the androgyny of the god; and, that the art would depict a symbolic gathering of all the attributes of a creator god with multiple life-giving functions. The bottom line is – we don’t know if he really looked this way or not, and if he did, why? If it was real, I think it is cool that he didn’t try to hide who he was.

Akhenaten’s primary wife was Nefertiti. He is also the father of Tutankhaten whose mother was Akhenaton’s biological sister.  

When Akhenaten died he was briefly succeeded by two others that lasted only a couple of years each. Finally, he was succeeded by his son Tutankhaten who by that time had re-aligned with the priests and renamed himself Tutankhamun, the famous boy king.  The capital was moved back to Thebes/Luxor.   Eventually, King Horemheb tried to erase all traces of Atenism and the pharaohs associated with it which is why Akhenaten and Armana virtually disappeared until that 19th century discovery. 

It reminds me of Hatshepsut and how you just cannot keep a good thing down. I felt a connection with Akhenaten and I liked reading his “Great Hymn to the Aten”. But I liked even more a couple of the attributes he ascribed to Aten on his monuments:  “Thy beams of light embrace the lands… and thou bindest them with thy love.” I loved reading the book: Akhenaten – Dweller in Truth, by Naguib Mahfouz. I don’t know how much of that book is based upon truth or is fiction. For me, romanticism or just wishful thinking, I like to think of Akhenaten as the first monotheistic ruler who tried to live and rule in Light and Love.

  Ahh, it’s the last night in Egypt. We had dinner at a nice restaurant and then walked around downtown Cairo visiting shops. We grabbed some ice cream cones and in the night headed back to our hotel. I walked through the busy nighttime traffic in Tahrir Square and as I reached Alexei on the other side of the street, I found him grinning at me.

“You are not even aware of how you nonchalantly, while eating ice cream, just meandered through that busy traffic as if you have been doing it all your life.”

“Hmm, I guess now I know how to ‘walk like an Egyptian’!”

 I am going to stop this tale of my Mid -East trip now with one last picture of that first night in Tahrir Square when I began my trip. I am grateful I got to travel when I did and meet so many wonderful people. A lot of strife and struggle is still happening in the Mid – East and it is spreading, I know. This picture reminds me of the celebration and joy after the revolution; and the continued efforts to bring the Light of Love and Freedom into the dawn of a new tomorrow.

 

The end. 🙂

Day 21 – Giza & Cairo

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Today we are going to Giza. I can hardly believe it. I never had imagined I would ever actually see the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Thanks to Alexei, here I am!

The Giza Necropolis has three main pyramids: The pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure as well as a complex of several other smaller pyramids and buildings. I love this picture showing the past and the present together:

The Great Pyramid of Giza was built as a tomb for the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops in Greek). It is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis and was finished around 2560 BCE. It was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years. It used to be covered by casing stones and had a smooth outer surface, but most all of that is gone and what you see now is the underlying core structure. It is also missing its pyramidion or capstone.

 (picture from Wikipedia)

Some people believed that the pyramid was built by slaves but modern discoveries say it wasn’t.  One source says it was built over a 20 year period by two groups of 100,000 skilled workers who were then divided into smaller groups of 20,000. Another source says the people worked on it for three months of each year during the annual flooding of the Nile when it was impossible to farm the land and they were unemployed.  Maybe they are talking about the same people, but, I don’t know. 

The Great Pyramid is the only pyramid in Egypt known to have both ascending and descending passages. The Descending Passage appears to go to a lower chamber that wasn’t finished. The Ascending Passage, of course, goes to the King’s Chamber and has a Horizontal Passage that goes off to the Queen’s Chamber.

(Picture from Wikipedia)

Today, tourists enter the pyramid via the Robber’s Tunnel. This was a tunnel dug by workmen employed by Caliph al-Ma’mun around 820 AD. But hey, he wasn’t the first one to go a- thieving.

(Picture from Wikipedia)

I am determined to go all the way into this pyramid. It felt okay as we traveled up the Ascending Passage; but, when we got to this one place where, after climbing about four steep stairs, the passage divided into two elevated walkways, I started to feel just a leetle bit cramped. I think this is the part called the Grand Gallery. See it on the map above and here is a picture:

 

 (Picture from Wikipedia)

Still, I was okay because it was just so cool to be here. When we got to the King’s Chamber, I don’t remember that there was a lot to see besides the sarcophagus. Coming back down the passage is when I started feeling  uncomfortable. I am pretty sure it is because I was matching other tourist’s fears and then mine were magnified by our combined energy.  I really had to blow my matching fears, choose Love and get a grip. I tried to help one woman who was beginning to come unglued by claustrophobia, but she had to make a break out of that place pronto! Another lady had tears in her eyes as her friends encouraged her to keep going.

Finally, we made it out and I was glad to know I had done it. Right then a young boy, maybe age 12ish came up to me to hand me something.

“No thank you”. I said. I didn’t want to buy anything right then.

“No, no, gift, gift.” He said.

“I don’t believe you, I am not interested in buying anything now.”

“Gift, gift!” He insisted.

“Really…okay then.” I took it with a smile.

Then he held out his hand for baksheesh.

O My God, I am so damned gullible. This was my last baksheesh straw. My button was pushed.

“You said this was a gift. You lied. I can’t fucking believe I bought that shit!”

He just gave me the sad face.

I gave him a couple of US dollars. He took it and made another face, handing it back and wanting Egyptian pounds instead.

“Dude, these dollars are more than the pounds you would get!” I took back the dollars and started to give him some pounds, then… I lost it and snarled, “Here take it back, I don’t want this gift. It’s bullshit.” In my anger I thrust his gift, the pounds, and somehow even the dollars back into his hands just as a camel rider told the boy to leave me alone. The kid made out very well.

But, for me, the baksheesh thing had finally penetrated my armor and I had to deal with what was bugging me about it.  I had to explore why it was pushing my buttons. Okay Linda, what is it? Process, use your tools.  The begging in Mexico never bothered you, why would this? Begging is upfront, it’s clean and honest. You know what is going on. This isn’t. I never know whether an action or a kindness is freely given or if I am expected to give money in return. It isn’t honest. Okay, where do I match that; do I do it too? I thought I had already learned the value of giving and receiving unconditionally. I have learned it. I practice it. That isn’t it; there is something more, what is it? Review: pretty much everyone who has asked me for baksheesh was trying to do a job, a service, to make money even when I didn’t want their offering.

Ahh, my book; is that what this is about? 

I wrote a book, two books even, that I see as a service, but I also hope to receive money for them. I guess I don’t know how to reconcile that. I gave away hundreds of my first book because I thought it was so important for people to have the information. I am even putting it on Twitter now, but, I cannot afford to continue giving away my first book,  nor any of the second book; and, yes, I would like to make enough money that I could retire or cut back work at the hospital.  I am not entrepreneurial. I am in conflict.

I need an attitude adjustment and a perceptual tweak.

Suddenly, I remembered a patient/acquaintance I once had named Darcy Rezac who wrote a book entitled: The Frog and Prince: Secrets of Positive Networking to Change Your Life. The message it had was, “What can I do for you?” 

In other words, “How can the job/service/item I am offering help you?” DUDE, I can wrap my head and heart around that! Yeah, I even already have a job providing a service as an RN. It is upfront that I get paid for that. I don’t have a conflict about it; it’s my job.

Linda, so is your writing. Okay, I get it. Now I can be upfront about it. I am offering my knowledge and experience as a critical care nurse in the form of two books that I know have information that can be of help to people; AND, I get paid each time someone buys a book. It’s my job and I love it!

Thanks to all of you folks who asked me for baksheesh and kept pushing til I could come to this realization.

Darcy, I think I finally got it! Thanks so much for your book as well as yours, Gail’s, and Judy’s wisdom.

All of that I worked out as we headed toward our camel ride tour. We had already paid for it, but my camel driver asked for more… of course he did. This time it didn’t bug me. I calmly made a choice and gave him a little more.

  

 This is my third trip on a camel and my driver suddenly gave me the reigns to do my own steering! Very cool.

 

 

When the camel tour was done we walked around to see the Great Sphinx of Giza.

  

The Great Sphinx – The Terrifying One – is a statue of a human head with a lion’s body.  It is the largest monolith statue in the world and the oldest known monumental sculpture. It is believed to have been built during the reign of Pharaoh Khafra (2558 – 2532 BCE). Really that is about all that is known, as basic facts about it are still being debated.

  

 

Well, that was it for our trip to Giza. We headed back to Cairo and planned to go to the American University Bookstore just down the street from our hotel. I wanted to get the book about Akhenaten, by Naguib Mahfouz

Ahhh, it is Friday and the weekly demonstration is starting on Tahrir Square below our rooms.

 

  

 We decide to go for a walk before we go to the bookstore.

 

 The vibe is not the same as before when the people were celebrating. Now, they are trying to keep the movement alive and debating about how the new government should be.  Still, people are glad to see us and are friendly.  Noelle got her hand painted.

 

We walked around to see the artwork:

 

 

 

 

Eventually, we headed to the bookstore. As we approached the stairs to the subway, I saw a man sitting down on the short wall at the top of the stairs. In just a flash, his legs went up in the air, his body fell backward and down. I heard a loud crack when he hit the ground.

“NO!” I yelled. “DID YOU SEE THAT?”

Noelle and Alexei had looked up at my yell then ran down the stairs. I quickly followed.

 

Most of the man’s body was lying on the ground floor on his back. His left leg from the thigh down was lying on the first stair. When I got there Noelle and Alexei had already checked for breathing and a pulse. Of course, he was unconscious. Blood was pooling around his head. It was commute time now and people were crowding around us. I knelt down between the man’s legs and put my hand on his chest. His breathing was getting shallow and I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it.  Noelle was keeping people away from him as we did not want to move him and create more problems.

I stood up and said to someone, “We need an ambulance. You know wooo –wooo.” I tried to simulate a siren.  He ran off up the stairs. A business man in a suit holding a briefcase came down the stairs by me.

“How is he doing?”

“I think he may die.”

“I think so too.” He replied and walked off.

 I could see the man’s breathing was becoming irregular and he was using effort to inhale. Maybe he’s herniating his brain. I knelt down again. Now I could see blood was pooling in his mouth and blocking his airway.

“Shit, he can’t breathe, we need to turn him.”

“What do you want to do, Linda?” Alexei asked.

“I want to turn him.”

Keeping my eyes peeled on the man, I stated to the crowd, “I need plastic gloves!”

A handkerchief came into my line of sight.

“No, gloves!”

A package of Kleenex came into my view.

“No, gloves!” I repeated.

A small blue plastic bag was there.

“Ok.”

I put my hands and forearms into the bag, moved around to the man’s head and kneeling just outside the growing pool of blood, I bent over and stabilized his head and neck by putting my hands on his shoulders and his head between my forearms.  Alexei and Noelle grasped his body in the appropriate places so that we could roll him like a log, keeping his spine and neck in alignment to prevent damage.

“Okay, on the count of three. One, two, three.”

We successfully turned him to his right side away from the stairs. The blood poured out of his mouth. 

I waited.

He sucked in a big breath and kept breathing.

Whew!

Someone slid a small back pack toward me to put under his head.

“It will get all bloody.”

“it’s okay.”

“You speak English?”  I asked a young woman. She nodded yes.

“Please tell everyone, we are ER and ICU nurses from America. We know what we are doing. We have to keep him on his side so the blood doesn’t block his airway and we have to keep his spine straight to prevent paralysis. She told everyone and also informed me that an ambulance was on the way.

A man came down the steps to us. He had a stethoscope and tried to turn the victim to his back so he could examine him.

Noelle yelled, “NO!”

So he reached over the man’s body and listened to his heart, then left.

We waited.

I tried to feel his scalp for a source of bleeding, but I couldn’t find one. Blood just kept pouring out of his mouth. My back was screaming from bending over. I finally had to slide the backpack under the man’s head. It was a perfect fit and kept him in good alignment. Just as I straightened up, the medic showed up. Via the young woman’s translations, I was trying to give him a report of the mechanism of injury and all that we had seen and done.  He didn’t seem to pay any attention and appeared to be assessing the situation for himself. Noelle was pantomiming putting a cervical collar on the man’s neck for stabilization and the medic nodded.  Alexei stood up with me.

“What now?”

“We need to back off and let him do his thing.”

Someone handed me some Kleenex to wipe the blood off of me as I took off the blue bag. Too late, it was mostly dried up. I opted for returning to our hotel across the street instead of going to the bookstore. As we left, people reached out to touch us and gave their thanks.

We got back to the hotel and Noelle went off to Skype her parents. I went to clean up and Alexei disappeared. I marveled at how strangely calm I was; no drama, no trauma. Good, I like that in me. I went to say hi to Noelle’s parents and Alexei came to us.

“I watched from my room with the binoculars. They just took him away on a backboard and with the C- collar on. They weren’t doing CPR so I guess he is alive.”

Okay then. On that note, I went to bed.

Day 19 – 20 Cairo

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It is late afternoon of day 19 in Aswan and we are headed to the train station for the overnight train to Cairo. Originally, we had planned to cruise the Nile up to Cairo, but, we wanted to spend an extra day in that city so we are taking a faster transport to get there. I am excited because I have never been on an extended train ride, let alone an overnight one.

 As we pulled our suitcases into the station we heard, “Noelle, Noelle!”

What the heck?!

OMG, the professor and the boys are taking the train too! They quickly mob us, once again asking for pictures. I think it is cute as hell, but, Noelle is so over it.

We said our goodbyes and found our way to the overnight car and our rooms.

 

But, before the train is ready to leave, Noelle hops off to go buy some snacks from a vendor in the station. When she gets back, she is flushed and embarrassed.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“I was afraid I had taken too long and that the train would leave so I started running back. As I ran, the men in the station stood up and started clapping!”

Ahh, Noelle, you and your girls are so entertaining. I still laugh about it today.

That evening, I was hoping to party a bit, to celebrate our trip so far, but, we could not get back to where the professor and the boys were – a fact that Noelle was happy about. So we went to the lounge instead; but dang, they did not serve alcohol. Thank goodness Alexei had brought a bottle of Limoncella from Italy for just such a celebration!  Mmm lemon and vodka.

 

Okay, party over, time for bed. Noelle gets the top bunk cuz I know I will have to pee in the night.

 

 

I was right; I had to pee in the night. Now that was a little adventure all in itself: dimly lit bathroom, a toilet with a hole in the floor, the wind blowing upward as the tracks whiz by while I am whizzing – o yeah, memorable! Then I couldn’t find my room in the dark!! Fortunately at that moment we were passing some town that had lights on and as they flashed through the windows I tried several locked doors until I found my own.

Please, God, no more peeing tonight!

Pee free, we made it to Cairo in the morning and headed back to our hotel on Tahrir square. Our hotel is the building on the left just past the green bus.  The tent city is gone from across the street. I am bummed because no one is there now.

 

 I am sorry that Noelle will not get to meet all of those people. I heard there are continuing demonstrations on Friday nights, so we shall see what that is like tomorrow.

Here is the view from Alexei’s hotel room window. That pink building is the museum and there is the burned admin building too.

 

Very cool.

We are going to visit pyramids at Saqqara and Dahshur today.

Do you remember when I wrote about Hatshepsut and the Valley of the Kings in Luxor? Well, that was the big burial place for the pharaohs of the New Kingdom. During the Old Kingdom time – 3rd millennium BCE- the capital of Egypt was in Memphis just south of Cairo. The ancient Egyptian name for this city is of course different, but, I am not really sure what it is because I have found two different names, so I will just call it by its latest name, Memphis. The big burial place during this time was the strip from Giza to Dahshur and it has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1979. And, before you start wondering, I am pretty sure Elvis is not buried there. Bad joke, sorry.

It was fun to take the taxi ride out to Saqqara and Dahshur because we were out of the city and into smaller villages. This is something we had not really done much of during our trip.

 

The camel gets a ride:

 

 Saqqara is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt with numerous pyramids.

 

 (Picture from Wikipedia)

The most famous pyramid there is the Step Pyramid, built for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser, by his vizier, Imhotep. It is known as the oldest, large scale cut stone building in history. (The oldest un-cut stone pyramid is in the city of Caral, Peru.)

 

Once again, as we toured the complex, the local guides were quieted when they heard Alexei teaching us about what we were seeing.  Even still, they tried to let us take forbidden pictures or go into places we weren’t supposed to go, all for baksheesh.

Here is the Roofed Colonnade corridor of the hypostyle hall:

 

 (Picture from Wikipedia)

 While Noelle rested, Alexei took me to the north side of the pyramid where the temple of the serdab is. I didn’t get what he was saying until now as I am writing about it. The serdab is a small enclosed structure that houses the “ka statue”. The king’s ka is the part of his soul that was believed to inhabit the statue in order to benefit from daily ceremonies. Anyway, as we came to the spot, Alexei told me to look into this hole in a wall and this is what I saw:

 

Here is a better picture from Wikipedia:

 

 (Picture from Wikipedia)

 Cool, huh?

I think this next one is of the Great Trench that surrounded Djoser’s complex, but I am not sure.  It looks more like a great path to me.

 

We could have spent a lot more time here, but the wind and the guides were making it a little difficult, so we took off for Dahshur.

Dahshur is a little further south than Saqqara.  It is mostly known for several pyramids including two that are among the oldest, largest and best preserved in Egypt – the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid, both constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Sneferu (2613 -2589).

The Bent Pyramid is unique and is believed to represent a transitional form between step – sided and smooth sided pyramids.  Archeologists believe that the original angle of the pyramid was too steep and was becoming unstable so the builders decreased the angle to finish it and this gives it the bent look.

 

While Alexei took a closer look, these guards ask to take mine and Noelle’s picture:

 

 

 We were used to this by now, but, they wanted baksheesh. Dang, I am sorry, but, the baksheesh thing was getting irritating. When I was in Mexico, I budgeted money to give to beggars and street performers, but this baksheesh didn’t feel like that. It wasn’t the same as freely giving. However, I didn’t have time to process these feelings and just took our camera and left.

Next stop was the Red Pyramid named for the reddish color of its stones. Originally the stones had been covered by white Tura limestone, but during the Middle Ages, these were removed to use on buildings in Cairo. The Red Pyramid is the largest of the three major pyramids in Dahshur and also the third largest Egyptian pyramid after those in Giza. It is also believed to be the world’s first successful attempt to build a “true” smooth-sided pyramid.

 

 We planned to go inside this pyramid and began the climb up to the entrance. When we finally got there, a pleasant man gave us some flashlights to use, but he didn’t ask us for baksheesh and that was nice too. We started walking down into the pyramid and about ten steps in I stopped.

“Uhm, you guys go on ahead. I’ll wait here.”

Alexei just kept going without even a look back. Noelle looked but kept going.

I sat down on a step and examined my feelings. Maybe I am scared, I don’t know; but, it did not feel right in here to me.

After about another 50 steps, Noelle stopped too and sat down.

 

Our intrepid, Alexei, went all the way, hollering back to us the things we were missing seeing until we couldn’t hear anymore.  This is a picture of the main burial chamber from Wikipedia:

 (Picture from Wikipedia)

 That’s okay, I was glad when he returned and we walked out of there.

 

I have one more picture of a pyramid that we did not see, but, I found it on Wikipedia and I think it is an interesting example of how using the right materials makes all the difference. This is the Black Pyramid, one of the five remaining pyramids of the original eleven at Dahshur. It was built in the Middle Kingdom time of 2055 -1650. It had been made of mud brick and clay instead of stone, then encased in limestone.

 (Picture from Wikipedia)

Well, that’s it on these pyramids.  We headed back to Cairo and to shopping at the Khan el-Khalili souk. I can’t wait.

The Khan el-Khalili souk dates back to 1382 when the Emir Djaharks el-Khalili built a large caravanserai there. A caravanserai is a sort of hotel for traders, and usually the focal point for economic activity. The caravanserai is still there although we did not see it. For readers of Nobel Prize laureate, Naguib Mahfouz, the Khan is the place of his novel, Midaq Alley. The Khan has also been the site of a couple of terrorists’ attacks.

For me, the Kahn was huge, bustling with new and old magnificently interesting sights; the buildings, the people, the wares.  We saw only a tiny bit of this old bazaar. I could have spent a couple of days just walking around this place. 

 

 

 (Picture from Wikipedia)

 

 

 (Picture from Wikipedia)

 

 

 

I loved it.  It was here that I finally got the balls up to bargain and I won! Well, to be honest, I sent Alexei back with my final offer.  I couldn’t go because the lady that had re- done Noelle’s henna walked by, saw mine and was so irritated with the original work, she make me sit down and “get it done right!”

 

She was right. It kept the memory alive long after I got back home. I loved it!

note

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sorry, the pic from David Roberts won’t come through.

Linda

Day 18 & 19 – Aswan

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We are going to Aswan today, but before I get into that, I want to tell you about our last night in Luxor.

Do you remember my comment about how the people of Luxor seemed desperate, not living, but, just trying to exist? I wished I could see people in their more natural settings. Well I did. This last night in Luxor we went to the square outside of the Luxor Temple and it was filled with families. There were Mothers and Fathers with their babies and little ones; teen age boys exuberantly playing soccer; toddler boys trying to kick a soccer ball that came up to their knees; vendors selling refreshments and balloons.  It was such a relaxed, pleasant time.

Then there were horns honking as a large group of motorcyclists noisily drove down the street. They rode with two to three guys on a bike and no helmets. I could tell they were celebrating something. Later as I walked, alone, back to my hotel, I saw them all parked outside of a photo shop.  I stopped to talk with them and found that their friends were getting married.  The wedding party was inside to get the pictures done. 

The evening was fun, it was alive, and I was happy to be able to share in it.  That night, I received an email from my friend, Nadia, who works in the same hospital I work in.  She is from Luxor and had given me her family’s contact info for emergencies. Now she said her family would like to meet me. I would have loved that too, but, it was too late. I am grateful for this insightful night in Luxor.

Okay, back to today!  We are taking a train from Luxor to Aswan.   Aswan was the ancient Egyptian’s gateway to Africa. Now, it lies just below the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser. It is the smallest of the three major cities along the Nile and has a large population of Nubian people who were relocated when building of the dam flooded their homelands. The High Dam was built in the 1960 -70’s because the Low Dam was not high enough. There is a lot of political history with the building of the High Dam which I am not going into here. Aswan is also home to many of the granite quarries from which most of the Obelisks were built. There is a lot to see here and I know we will only be seeing a fraction of it.

 The hotel we had planned on staying at didn’t exist anymore. Our ever resourceful Alexei scoured the travel guide during the train ride then while we waited at the train station in Aswan, he found a hotel for us.  Here is our view:

 

 Perfect!

Yes, it still had the tiny bathroom, but what the hey, it was clean.  Yes the lobby was on the second floor, but by this time, I was strong enough to carry my luggage up the first stairs myself. Yes, it had one of those tiny elevators that began at lobby level, but at least it was there and it worked.  I loved it!

We all agreed that the first thing we wanted to do was to rent a felucca and go sail on the Nile.

 

I don’t know, maybe it was this sail ride as my introduction to Aswan, but, I felt so much more relaxed in this city. We would only be here a couple of days, yet, I wished we could stay longer to see the entire city and to visit the surrounding areas.

That evening we headed out to have sheesha and tea at the market.  Noelle and I actually smoked a little that night to the delight of three men sitting next to us. One was in the honey bee business, one was a banker and one was a history professor.  The beekeeper spoke just a minimum amount of English, but somehow, we were able to communicate. They took pictures of us with them.  I know they were delighted with Noelle and her girls.

The next day, we went touring. First up was the Unfinished Obelisk which is the largest known ancient obelisk. If finished it would have been about 137 feet and weighed about 1200 tons. It was found in the quarry in 2005. The cool thing about seeing this is how you can get an insight into ancient Egyptian stone working techniques.  You can see the marks from the worker’s tools and the line markings that they followed.  They were carving this stone right out of the bedrock, but cracks appeared in the granite and the project was abandoned. I am neither a stone mason nor an engineer, but, when I look at this, I don’t see how there wouldn’t be cracks. The length and angle of the obelisk just looks like there would be too much stress on it.

 

 

(Picture from Wikipedia)

 (Picture from Wikipedia)

You can also find rock carvings and remains in this open air museum and archeological site where most of the famous obelisks were worked.  Before the tour we watched an interesting video of the site.

We left the obelisks and headed to the Temple of Philae. Philae is actually a plural word that refers to two small islands in the Nile – Philae and Agilkia.  These islands were centers of commerce between Egypt and Nubia (Ethiopia), but, their main feature was their architect. Monuments and temples from the late Egyptian Pharonic periods through the Greek Ptolemaic to the Roman times of the Caesars’ can be found here. The principal deity here was Isis. It was the last pagan temple to exist in the Mediterranean world when it was closed in the 6th century and Philae became the seat of the Christian religion. The temple was made into a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary until Muslim invaders closed it in the 7th century.

In 1902 the Low Dam was completed on the Nile River.  Its height was increased twice. Many of the ancient landmarks including the temple complex at Philae were getting flooded. So, in 1960,  Egypt and UNESCO began a massive project to save the buildings. First they built two rows of steel plates that held sand to block the water; residual water was pumped away from the buildings. Then they cleaned and measured the monuments with photogammetry, a method that enables the exact reconstruction of the original size of the building blocks used by the ancient builders. Then they dismantled the buildings, transported them to the higher ground on Agilkia Island and reconstructed the monuments. Awesome!

When we arrived at the dock on the mainland there were MANY small boats vying to ferry us to the island. Alexei made a deal with one and we found ourselves on a very small, twitchy motor boat, hoping we wouldn’t end up swimming.

I could see a small island ahead of us and  I could see beautiful golden light radiating into the sky like a huge halo.  It was coming from something behind the island. I heard a voice saying, “I love your intention to love. I love the love you are bringing to my island.”  I was filled with Love and Joy.

I turned to Alexei and asked, “Do you see that beautiful light?”

Of course he just grinned and shook his head no.

“Whose island is this? Who are we going to see?  What temple?”

“Mainly it is Isis.”

“Isis?”

“Isis was the first daughter of the god of the Earth and the goddess of the sky. She was married to her brother, Osiris who was killed by his jealous brother, Set. One version of the myth is where Set, along with the Queen of Ethiopia, conspired with 72 accomplices to plot the assassination of Osiris. Set fooled Osiris into getting into a box, which Set then shut, sealed with lead, and threw into the Nile. Isis, searched for his remains until she finally found him embedded in a tree trunk, which was holding up the roof of a palace in Byblos on the Phoenician coast. She managed to remove the coffin and open it, but Osiris was already dead. She used a spell learned from her father and brought him back to life so he could impregnate her. Afterwards, he died again and she hid his body in the desert. Months later, she gave birth to Horus. While she raised Horus, Set was hunting one night and came across the body of Osiris. Enraged, he tore the body into fourteen pieces and scattered them throughout the land. Isis gathered up all the parts of the body, less the phallus (which was eaten by a catfish) and bandaged them together for a proper burial. The gods were impressed by the devotion of Isis and resurrected Osiris as the god of the underworld. Because of his death and resurrection, Osiris is associated with the flooding and retreating of the Nile and thus with the crops along the Nile valley.  Osiris is the god of the underworld, a merciful judge of the dead and the grantor of life, re-birth and regeneration. Isis is the goddess of love.”

Hmmm, well I am feeling a whole lot of love right now. As we motored toward the island, I had an image of a woman placing her forehead against mine.  She wanted to give me her knowledge and experience. I wanted it, but, I wouldn’t take it in like this.  I insisted she give it to Love and I would receive it all from there. You know, that is what I trust.  She was cool with that and the image faded away.

Since I have been home, I don’t feel any more knowledgeable or experienced which is kind of a bummer.  When I googled “Isis”, I found this comment: “Isis was a goddess in ancient Egypt whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world.  She was worshipped as the ideal mother, wife, matron of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans, and the downtrodden; she also listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers. Isis worship was concerned about the acquisition of knowledge since knowledge could only be attained from the gifts of the gods. Worship of Isis did not include a messianic view but it did provide a relationship with the divine that was not stopped by death.” 

“Hey, Isis love, if you are listening, I did not refuse your gift, I just need it to come through Love.”

Isis is still worshipped in our times. Apparently there is a Temple of Isis in Los Angeles, in northern California, in Ireland and a whole Federation of Isis. They say that Isis asks only that our “spark of divinity within” be allowed to thrive, to grow, to become strong, and that we become more purely an expression of our own divine spirit.

Hey, I’m down with that! No wonder I like Isis!

Our boat came to the dock and, as I stepped onto the island, I felt an immense sense of peace and love. O my gosh, I really love it here.

 

 

 

The grand entrance to Nubian Temple of Isis   is where we began walking.  Below is a drawing of the same area done by David Roberts in the 1800’s:

 

(Picture from David Roberts)

 Here is a view looking out from an opening in the colonnade area back to the little island :

 

I was feeling so good here. Alexei found a carving of Isis:

 

Here is a drawing of the inside of the temple from the 1800’s Description de L’Egypte:

 

(Picture from Wikipedia)

 Beautiful, isn’t it?

Suddenly, I heard a voice yelling, “Noelle, Noelle!!”  I knew this was not in my head.  We turned around and there, in his black full length robes was the professor from the sheesha place.  He excitedly came running up to us and gave us hugs. Behind him were a couple of other men and a whole bunch of teen age boys…his students! Immediately, everyone wanted pictures…mostly with Noelle and her girls:).

 

It was fun for awhile, but, Noelle was getting a bit irritated because it was very distracting from our tour of the temple complex. I enjoyed it, but, she was right, I found it took me out of my wonderful, loving, spiritual connection and brought me back into present time teenage, male hormones. We did continue to tour and the Island was beautiful, but, I don’t remember it all anymore partially due to the boys constantly coming up to have pictures taken with us.

 

 

 This is Trajan’s Kiosk, built by Roman Emperor Trajan:

 I know we went inside of other temples, but I don’t remember much cuz the boys were there too.

 Our visit to Philae had come to an end.  I would love to visit it again.

 

 At the dock, the boys were there to send us off with a lot of yelling and smiles.

They were very cute. I told Noelle that she and her girls did a lot for international relations. I don’t think she thought it was funny.

After a quick stop at our hotel, we took a long, peaceful, lazy felucca sail on the Nile again. Ahhhh!

 

 

 This time, we went down past Elephantine Island then came back to it and stopped at the back end of a Nubian village near a hostel like hotel:

 

 We were not in the tourist area and that was too bad because all we did was walk in between the houses and couldn’t find our way to the main streets.  We did meet a bunch of little children who squealed with delight when they asked Alexei his name and he replied, “Ismi, MacMoud.”  I don’t get why that just kills everyone. Back at the hostel hotel, Noelle and I received our first henna tattoos:

 

Would you believe it? Our time in Aswan has come to an end. Now, I know it was much too short a time to spend here.  Tonight, we are taking an overnight train to Cairo.  

Day 16 and 17 – Luxor cont. Karnak

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Today we are going to Karnak. Karnak is a huge open air museum and the largest ancient religious site in the world. It is the main place of worship for the Theban triad of gods: Amun-Re, his consort Mut, and their son, Montu or Khonsu; or something like that.  Yes, the alternate names of the gods and the evolutions of their aspects can be very confusing to me. It is way more complex than what I am presenting here, believe me.

Karnak is a complex of temples, chapels, pylons and other buildings.  Ancient temples were considered to be the residences of the gods. The Temple was a closed compound, open only to the priests and the pharaoh. The public could only enter the courtyard.

 What is so cool about Karnak is that the construction of all these things took place over a couple of thousand years beginning in the Middle Kingdom (2040-1640 BC) and ending with Cleopatra in the Ptolemaic Times (Greek rule of Egypt 305 – 30 BC) when the Romans took over. Approximately 30 different pharaohs contributed to the buildings making Karnak attain a size, complexity and diversity not seen anywhere else.

 

 (1914 by Cornell University – from Wikipedia)

Karnak is divided into four parts: the Precinct of Amun-Re, the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Montu( Khonsu) and the dismantled Temple of Amenhotep IV.  Only Amun-Re’s precinct is open to the public at this time.

 

Below is the sacred lake where the priests would do purifications and during festivals, images of the gods would travel across the lake in boats. This sacred lake is the largest known sacred lake.

 

 (Picture from Wikipedia)

Next is the great Hypostyle Hall built by Seti I. The roof is gone but the hall covers 50,000 sq feet. It has 134 columns in 16 rows. The two middle rows are about 36 feet high. It was a forest of columns.

 

(Picture from Wikipedia)

(1838 Lithograph by David Roberts – from Wikipedia)

 

It was in here that I first saw in my mind an old, tired looking man sitting at a table writing something down.

He said, “I am weary.”

“What are you doing?”

“Taking care of business, of course.”

“What business are you taking care of?”

“God business, except I have no more power. No one believes in me anymore. I am an unused deity.”

“What does that mean? If you are God, you are God, right?”

He sighed, “No, Linda. I am a created deity; I have no power except that which my followers projected onto me. They gave me their own power and then put their faith in me to tell them what to do.  It is useful because  when they act in the name of god, they are not responsible for the success or failure of the action, rather, the outcome is god’s will. Also, when believing they are acting out god’s will, people will allow their power to expand exponentially and they can achieve things they never could if they believed they were acting only for their own will.”

“Why?”

“People are not comfortable acknowledging their personal power so most of them deny it exists. Mostly they are afraid of how their weak, unwise egos would use it, so they give it away to gods and other images of power and then let themselves be told what to do.”

“So, what do I believe in then?”

“You already know the answer to this, Linda.  You told it to Ramses. Believe in your SELF.  You are an expression and manifestation of Love, Linda. When you are in communication with your Inner Voice and align your Linda- self with your God-self and Source in Love then you are One. Then instead of using power to create for the ego, you use it to create for Love. You don’t have to be afraid of acknowledging yourself anymore.”

And then he was gone in a burst of light. Just like that.

Holy Moly, I don’t know about this one, I don’t feel very powerful. I have my own issue that I can’t seem to get over, i.e. overeating.  Maybe I have given my power to this.  I don’t know, I have to think about all of this, but not right now cuz I am still checking out Karnak.

We headed back into the “Holy of Holies”, the sanctuary where the priest performed sacred rituals and the king would commune with the god, Amun. By the way, I read that the word “amen” said at the end of a prayer, is a direct reference to the god Amun who was also called Amen and Amon.

 

 (Picture from Wikipedia)

 This is the Ptolemaic gateway in front of the Temple of Khonsu (Montu):

 

 (Picture from Wikipedia)

 Hatshepsut restored the original Precinct of Mut, the ancient Egyptian mother goddess. She had twin obelisks erected at the entrance to the temple. One fell and the other is still standing as the tallest surviving ancient obelisk on Earth.

 

(Precinct of Mut -Picture from Wikipedia)

(Picture by Steve F.E. Cameron- from Wikipedia)

This is the statue of the sacred scarab which represents the god Khepri, the reborn sun at dawn. The scarab is a dung beetle that lays its eggs in a dung ball which it then pushes around with its feet. The eggs would benefit from the protection and the warmth of the dung.  The image of the larvae coming out of the dung ball became the symbol of rebirth; the dung ball became the symbol of the sun rising up into the sky; and the dung beetle pushing the dung ball became the symbol of the sun traversing the sky each day.  The local guides say that if you walk around this statue seven times you will never again have love problems. There were people doing it!

 

(Picture by Steve F.E. Cameron- from Wikipedia)

 We stopped at a snack bar for a break and found that a cat had kittens and one of the grounds keepers was fishing for little fishes that she could eat. This entranced Alexei.  He loves animals.

 

After this nice interlude we decided to go back to the hotel. There is still so much to see at Karnak, but, we were weary. On our way down the path that led out of the complex, Alexei was talking, but I could hear a wailing sound.  I thought it might be a baby crying in the village about a 1/4/ mile away.

Noelle stopped walking and asked, “What’s that sound?”

Immediately, Alexei stopped talking and like a hound dog began to track the sound.

In my mind the thought came, “NO! Don’t go look, what will we do with what we find? We are on vacation in a foreign country, what do we do?”

OMG! Where did that come from? That kind of fear thought is so not me.

Is it?

But, before I could start berating myself for having it, my Inner Voice said, “Calm down and observe.”

I became very neutral and almost in a detached space as I watched   this experience unfold before us.

Alexei walked into the huge, sandy, undeveloped area between Karnak and the village.  About 100 yards into it, I could see him bend down and the wailing stopped.  He came back carrying a small puppy that lay contentedly on his forearm. It had been left out in the sun. 

Right away, Alexei and Noelle were trying to figure out how to smuggle the puppy back into the hotel. Alexei was making plans to take her home with him to live with his two other dogs; and, “Hey, where can we find some milk?”.

 They found some milk at a tourist shop and we took a taxi back to the hotel. They went inside while I went to the ATM.  When I came back to Alexei’s room the little girl had been washed in cool water, taken some sips of mild and was now resting in a blue towel Alexei had brought from home.  I went over to check her energy.  It was very strong to my senses.

Noelle said, “Look, Linda’s giving her a healing.”

“No, I’m not. Her energy is strong, she could make it.  I am asking Love to take care of her and for whatever is best.”

Alexei said, “That is her name then – Karnak Inshallah”

Inshallah means “God willing”.

We had to run some errands. I don’t remember where I went, but Alexei and Noelle had to go to the ATM and somehow they got into a conversation with the healer guy who had tried to help Noelle when she had fallen before. This guy keeps popping up! I wish I had taken time to meet him. He offered to take care of Karnak Inshallah and  to make sure she got good care.

That made me aware that no matter where I am or what situation I am in, I can rely on Love. I don’t need to feel the fear of “what to do”; instead, just choose Love, act, and follow Love’s guidance.  I thought I had already learned that when I took care of Bella as related by her story in my book. I guess I still need more learnin’.

When we got back to the hotel, we found that Karnak Inshallah had died. It was a somber moment for all of us. 

The next day, by himself, Alexei took Karnak Inshallah over to the west bank of the Nile. He found a beautiful, peaceful place to bury her.

 

 

 

Rest in peace little Karnak Inshallah.

Day 15 Luxor cont. Balloon, Valley of the Kings, etc.

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YAY!!! We are going on a hot air balloon trip today.  Noelle is feeling better which is good because we have to get up early. We will be taking a water taxi, as usual, to get to the west bank.  Here is a picture of the water taxis during the daytime. Usually, we would climb through one after the other until we got to the one we had contracted with, but,

this time, we are on a balloon tour and it’s dark so thank goodness the taxi is right at the dock!  And, hey, there is breakfast!!. Look at Alexei in his jalibeya (man dress) and keffiyeh (turban). Whenever he was dressed in this local outfit, people would ask his name and he would reply, “Ismi, Macmoud.”  They would always delightfully crack up. I don’t know why, but it was fun to watch.

 

I have wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride for a very long time. I tried to do it in Sedona, Arizona, but the wind wasn’t right and they cancelled it.  This one is a go and I am like a kid…so excited!

 

 

Up, up and away we go!!!

 

There is Deir el-Bahri with Hatshepsut’s temple (in the bend of the cliffs) in both pictures along with various other tombs:

 

 When we went to Hatshepsut’s temple yesterday we  passed a village that Alexei said had been filled with people including  children on his last visit. In fact, we had brought a bunch of pens for the kids because they love receiving them. But, now the village is empty. Apparently the government is planning on creating a huge kind of “theme park” that will link the various archeological sites and so the people had to move. Here is the empty village from yesterday:

 

Here is another village.  I am not sure if this one has people still in it.

 

Thank goodness for the Nile River and the irrigation channels that come from it. I am not sure what the wall is for. I don’t think it can keep out desert storms!

 

All too soon the ride was done.  I am happy I finally got to do a balloon ride and what a great place to do it. Another check off of the ‘ol bucket list!  

 

 Next, we are going to the Valley of the Kings.

Back in the old, old days, i.e. the Old Kingdom (2000’s to 3000’s BCE), pyramids  were built in which to bury the pharaohs as we shall see later in Giza. But, after the pyramids of the Old and Middle Kingdoms were plundered, the pharaohs of the New Kingdom (1500’s to 1000’s BCE),  went underground in a valley on the west bank of the Nile.  In 1979 the Valley of the Kings became a World Heritage Site. Over 60 tombs are here, ranging from simple pits to a complex tomb with 120 chambers. It is in this valley that the tomb of King Tutankhamun was found.

 

 (Northern view of valley – Picture from Wikipedia

 Below is a one dimensional map of the tombs. 

 

 I wish I could have taken a picture of the huge, three dimensional, map model I saw in the museum site at the V of K.  It showed the tunneled corridors descending into various depths and ending in tombs and how some corridors took off of other corridors.  I could really grasp the enormity of what had been accomplished by looking at this format.  However, we were not allowed cameras, so all of the following pictures are from other sources. There are a lot more pictures you can see on line if you do a google search, but, they have copyrights, so I am not using them here.

 

(Picture of area around KV62 from Wikipedia)

 

 (Picture of entrance to Horemheb’s tomb from Wikipedia)

 

(Picture by Crystalinks.com)

Not all of the tombs are open to visitors and many are open only on a rotating basis. We decided to not see King Tut’s tomb because, one,  we would be seeing his stuff at the Cairo museum; and, two, the fee to his tomb was three times the amount of others. So, we decided to go to Ramses III and to Merenptah’s tombs.

As we entered Ramses’ tomb, suddenly, in my mind, a monstrous face appeared.  I think it was trying to scare me.  I started laughing, “Hmm, what the heck are you doing? That doesn’t scare me.” It squinted its eyes at me and then disappeared. 

 Noelle glanced back at me and gave me the “eye”; she knew something was going on in my head. 

I don’t remember a lot about what I saw in the tomb, because the spirit kept distracting me by showing me how cool he was. He would point out various pictures of himself and his deeds and say, “See, see.”  

I have only one picture from Wikipedia.

 

 Finally, I said, “You are a dead king being remembered through decaying ruins. Is that what you want? Is that all you are?”

“What do you mean, is that all I am?”

“You’re stuck in who you used to be. Wouldn’t you like to come into present time and explore who you could be now? All this other stuff already happened.  Yeah it’s cool for me to visit; but dude, you been there, you done that. Have you stopped living? I don’t think so – you are here, I am talking to you. You are still alive, but WHO ARE YOU NOW!?”

Woah, that caught his attention.  He disappeared for a little bit, then returned.

“What happens if I leave here?”

“I don’t know for sure. Don’t you have your beliefs about becoming one with Osiris and Ra? Aren’t you supposed to go through a bunch of challenges and perils in the underworld, then come out on top and be immortal?”

He gave me a wry look and replied, “Well that hasn’t happened. So now what?”

“I don’t know for sure.”

“You sent Hatshepsut off into a white light.”

“No, Hatshepsut saw a white light and chose to go into it. A lot of my patients do this too; I thought it might be a Christian cultural thing, but maybe not. I don’t try to explore the afterlife too much because I want to be able to flow with my patients’ belief systems and allow Love to guide them to find Truth for themselves in their own time and in whatever way is best for them.  After all, who am I? I don’t know what the Truth is. I believe in Love and I just keep following my path in Love, learning as I go, helping as I can. I do think that my self- identity as Linda is just a small part of who I really am. Linda, the “mini me” is only a character the “bigger me” is playing in this reality right now. I think that when I allow my consciousness to expand, I become the “greater me”, part of the One – the Source, and that there is no end to my beingness. It is all a matter of which viewpoint I am seeing myself from at any given moment.  As I change my viewpoint from the Source, and my perspective compartmentalizes while descending through filters of beliefs and life experiences I eventually percieve life through the mind of “mini me”, Linda. Then through this character, Linda, I experience myself in a variety of relationships with all the parts of the reality I am in. Through my relationships with all, I get to explore myself, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I get to experiment with different aspects and combinations of myself to further my evolution as a creative being. It can be fun, it can be scary, but it’s all good. To me, the worse thing I could do is to get stuck trying to hold onto something that doesn’t serve my evolution now. Stuck because of fear.  I have scared  myself in the past – scared by what I created and then scared of how my fearful reactions created more scary stuff; but, I have since chosen to trust Love and to allow Love to guide my choices. Now I am more able to act rather than react. Now I can trust and enjoy living, exploring and expressing myself. I choose Love and when those times come that Love leads me to my next step – I take it.”

Well, that was a mouthload, Linda!

He stared at me, then got a little smile on his face.  A white light appeared before us. I turned to look at it. When I looked back there he was in full regalia sitting upon a huge white horse. He yelled, the horse reared, and they charged into the light.  I heard his voice floating back to me, “I will be back!”

“Well okay then.”

Hmm, that was quite the interchange.  I continued to explore Ramses’ tomb and then, as we were heading out, I saw a white light off to my right.  There was this hunky dude, in a T-shirt, jeans and bare feet.  He smiled, “I think I’m gonna like me in this now.” Then he and the light were gone.

Oh, baby, yeah; I have no doubt you are gonna have fun!

I started laughing again and Noelle said, “Okay, who are you talking to inside that head of yours?”

I just shook my head.

We left Ramses’ tomb and headed to Merenptah’s. In my head, I heard a voice say, “So you got rid of Ramses.”

“No I didn’t.  He made a choice.”

“I heard the whole thing and I saw the whole thing with Hatshepsut too.”

I stopped walking and stared at him, “Okay, so what are you going to do?”

He grinned.  A white doorway appeared. He straightened his shoulders and regally went through it.

I looked around and, just like my experience at Monte Alban, little white lights shot off into the sky.

Now both Noelle and Alexei are looking at me. “What’s going on?” Noelle asks.

“They’re leaving.” I said.

Alexei said, “Linda if you send  all of them away, what’s going to be left?”

“I’m not sending them, they are choosing to go.” I defended. I thought to myself, “What’s left? Beautiful ruins  of historical achievments for us to learn from, admire,  and enjoy.”

Such as Merenptah’s  sarcophagus.

 

(Picture from Wikipedia)

 We left the Valley of the Kings and took a water taxi back to the east bank. This time Alexei got to steer!

 

 Next stop is the hotel and then the Luxor museum. We took a buggy ride and Alexei got to drive this too.

 

 The museum was very cool to visit. I liked it. It was opened in 1975 and had great displays.  It prides itself upon the quality of their artifacts and the uncluttered way they are displayed.  But, Alexei said, “Wait until you see the museum in Cairo!” 

(Picture from Wikipedia)

 (Picture by rosegirl)

(Hathor – picture from Wikipedia)

We headed back via the same carriage and Alexei drove again. Noelle calls this my Mother Teresa look. Whaddya  think? If only I was haf as good as she was.

 

 

 I want to comment here about how much the economy is hurting due to lack of tourists.  Despite our telling this carriage driver we did not want to ride back from the museum he waited almost two hours for us to finish our visit and then talked us into taking the ride again. These people are desperate for tourists. I felt it so strongly at Luxor in particular. In the Souk (markets) where we were headed to next, I could feel the desperate need to sell stuff. I have been to markets in poor places and have bought from very aggressive sellers, but, the feeling here in Luxor was different.  Also, the little “baksheesh” (tip) was everywhere!  With any little help a person gave to me, they expected baksheesh.  One guy kept hounding us to tell him what we were looking for so he could take us to the right shops.  We told him no and then ignored him as he followed us.  When we did stop at a shop, he told the seller there that he had brought us and wanted baksheesh from him.  Over the days I became aware of how I stopped asking for help and was even trying to not  look like I might need help, because I didn’t want to deal with it. It was weird because this kind of stuff doesn’t usually bother me.  It came to a head later, in Giza. Another lesson for me.

 I also felt like people were not living and that they were just trying to exist. I had emailed my sister with this concern.  The energy was so low.  I really wanted to see people outside of the markets and in their natural home life, but, I wasn’t sure that would happen. I did see a small family reunion in the hotel lobby. Everyone was happy to see each other, but still, the energy seemed so tired.

We planned to spend the rest of the day “souking”; first though, a trip to our favorite ATM.  To get there we had to go through the “tourist’s market” where we had been many times already.  This time though, Noelle fell. The men all around us jumped to their feet, ready to help.  One of the shopkeepers came running and offered an oil to put on her tender ankle. Embarrassed, Noelle struggled to her feet and brushed away all of the attention.  I noticed the guy though. I had seen his shop many times but had never gone in. Now, I realized he was a healer and that he had some kind of healing agent he was trying to get her to use. How funny that I am just now noticing him.  Nevertheless, we left in a hurry. 

Noelle felt okay and thought she could still go souking. The following pictures are of the markets.  There are different types of markets from those for tourists to the ones locals shop from.  Pretty much anything you want you will find in the souks. A little disclaimer here – it is entirely possible I have mixed up pictures of markets from  Luxor and Aswan, sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Ahh, sugarcane juice, Alexei’s favorite:

 

 Falafel and Hummus, I think:

 

And shawarma for me, of course!

 

Then there is the sheesha – the water pipe smoking. This is mostly a man thing. In fact, I don’t think I saw any woman who was not a tourist, smoking a pipe.   Alexei loved to have his sheesha and tea. I tried the pipe once and inhaled- big mistake for me; I am a singer, smoking messes up my vocal chords. Thereafter no more inhaling, if I smoked at all.   Noelle would smoke now and then; but mostly, we had the tea.

Well, it has been a long day. Noelle managed to souk while gimping around on her ankle. Tomorrow we head out to Karnak. So, one last sheesha ‘n tea, please.  

 

 

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