Saturday, December 11, 2010

Egyptian Adjustment

There was no bounding out of bed with restless enthusiasm on Friday. We slithered quietly out. Julia announced she didn’t like Egypt and didn’t want to leave the resort. Regardless, Ramses was coming to pick us up at 10:30 so we prepared ourselves.

On the way in to Luxor we told Ramses what had happened the night before and he was horrified. He told me we should have told him the night before and we would have gone back to pick up the offender and throw him in jail. He made me describe the man and said he thought he knew who it was. By the time we reached the restaurant for breakfast, I was afraid he was going to hunt down the man and bring him to justice. I was envisioning a line-up at the police station and a long day of statements. At the restaurant Rhys said he wanted to break the man’s leg. We were all working the incident through in our own way.

After breakfast Ramses drove us to the Luxor museum. It was excellent and very interesting. We learned a lot about the various kings and daily life in ancient times. There were a couple of interesting movies as well. The biggest drawback was that we were not allowed to take pictures. We had to walk from the museum to the Karnak temple and it was with some trepidation that we started on our way. It was a beautiful day, however, and the bright sunlight made everything seem less frightening. Even the touts didn’t push as hard…or maybe we were just getting better at showing absolutely no interest.

Karnak temple in the sunlight was even more spectacular. It is actually a series of temples as Luxor (formerly Thebes) was the religious centre of Egypt. Many pharaohs had made their mark: Seti, Ramses II and III, Hatshepsut and Tut. We wandered around taking pictures. A guard asked us to enter an area that was blocked off and encouraged us to take pictures of ourselves with the statues. He wanted us to climb on them but we declined, agreeing that we would try not to contribute to the erosion any more than we already were. He needed to be paid, of course but the most interesting part was that another guard showed up at that point. Obviously, he was a supervisor and when we gave the first guard money, the first guard handed it right over to the other one. Interesting. It must have really irritated him to do it.

The temple’s most spectacular area was the hypostyle hall. It was the largest in existence with 134 towering pillars. Each column was engraved with hieroglyphics from top to bottom. Some of the columns had blocks stretching between them on top and the undersides were painted. At one time, it had all been painted. It must have been amazing when it was in its glory, although the common folk never got to see it. The inner complex was only for the priests and pharaohs. We spent a good two hours wandering around the sight taking pictures.

During our wander, we saw several school groups. The first group of girls found me amongst the columns in the hypostyle hall. They eagerly approached saying, “hello”. I returned the greeting the first time which caused each and every one of them to repeat so I could greet them in turn. Then one asked, “What is your name?” so I told her and asked her name so she told me. Then every other girl repeated the question in turn. At this point their young male teacher rounded the corner and asked one of them to take his picture with me. ? So, we posed for a picture together and I asked if he would take a picture of me with the girls which he did and then gave my camera to one of the girls so I could have a picture of myself with him. Then each of the girls wanted an individual picture with me and finally we all said goodbye.

A few corners later, another school group appeared and when I replied to the girls they all swarmed me so that one of the guards came forward to shoo them away. I guess I must have not looked too panicked because he backed off and I played “ask and answer” with the girls. They were very sweet and I really enjoyed talking to them. Suddenly, their male teacher came along and began shooing them away from me like they were chickens or something, yelling at them angrily. I suppose “swarm the tourist” is not an encouraged activity on school fieldtrips. It was far more enjoyable than playing duck and weave with the touts.

One of the more interesting facts we learned is that Ramses II had over 200 children. There's an awful lot of material there but this is a family blog. We found a birthday card from his kids though. Isn't it sweet that they all signed it? It continues on the next rock, of course.

After our excitement the night before we decided to end the day when the sun was still shining, grabbed some food from the supermarket and headed home with Ramses. Tonight we dined on homemade pizza made on the stovetop. We forgot we had no oven.

3 comments:

maryanncart said...

I'm glad that this day went better and hopefully Rames broke the blokes legs! Very interesting place. Love Mom

Rhonda Staples said...

Hi Holly, your description of Egypt reminds me of my travels in India. I went to India for three months and it took a solid month to get over the culture shock. After that, I loved it. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the heat and sunshine :) Rhonda

Steve said...

Lloyd's, it is saddening that a country once so rich, is now so poor. The history is so fascinating. I do remember being put off by the constant barrage of people asking for money. You have to become callous to it and don't make eye contact. Scowling a lot and raising your fist seemed to work well during my adventures! I am sure you will all adjust and find that some places through Egypt are better than others. Reflecting back on your stay a few months from now, it will not seem nearly as distracting as it all felt when you first arrived.

Chalk it up to a learning experience and growth opportunity. And keeps your wallets safe!