Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!

2.12.06

Our Adventure in Egypt, Part Five: The Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hatshepsut

Our wake-up call on Saturday, 11 November, was for 3.30 a.m. Three-thirty in the morning!!!!! That was no fun. We had to catch a short (about an hour) flight to Luxor, where we would see many, many sights and get on board our cruise ship, which would take us south along the Nile to Aswan. This, in case you're wondering, would be a brutally long day. But we saw a ton of cool stuff.

We arrived at the airport, said goodbye to our driver, Felipe, who had gotten us around Cairo without, you know, killing us (and as you can guess, any driver who can do that is a great driver), and went into the airport, where we met our new guide, Mourad, and our new travel buddies, Jim and Alicia. They were a couple from Glendale, California, and we would travel with them for the rest of the trip. We wandered around the terminal for a while until we found our gate. Oh, wait a minute - it wasn't our gate. We had to go back through the security check and find the right gate. Which we did. We went through that security check, but noticed there was no one actually manning the checkpoint. So we sat down and waited. I noticed that on the television in the little waiting area (all waiting areas by gates in airports worldwide look alike, I suppose, with only small changes in the actual amenities offered, like those "cushioned" plastic seats - we had no cushions) was a program that appeared to be a dramatization made to look like a documentary about ... an airplane disaster. Seriously. I couldn't tell, because the sound was down, but it looked like someone had made a pretend documentary, and there was footage of a plane going down and the aftermath in a small village that had been destroyed. I pointed this out to Krys, and we couldn't figure out exactly why they might be showing this footage in an airport waiting area. We have heard that Cairenes like practical jokes. Maybe they were toying with the sensitive foreigners!

So we sat for a while, and then a guard showed up. We all had to go back out and pass through the metal detector again. I wondered just where the hell this guard had been and who the hell he thought he was. We got our asses out of bed at 3.30 in the morning so we could get to the airport on time, and here he is, sauntering in with a cigarette dangling from his mouth (smoking is ubiquitous in Egypt, and I can only thank whatever deity watches over non-smokers that they didn't allow it on the airplanes) and joking around with his buddies. Finally we took a bus to the airplane, got on, and sat around. I mentioned that we sat around at JFK, but I could forgive it there, because that's a pretty darned big airport. I wasn't quite sure why we sat around on the tarmac at Cairo International, but I have a vision in my head of the pilot hanging out with the security guard, smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee while laughing about those stupid tourists, who think they're going to take off on time. They wouldn't be that evil, would they?

We finally got off the ground, but not before Krys and I came up with a marketing slogan for the airline: "EgyptAir: We'll get you there ... eventually." I think it's gold, baby! About an hour later we landed in Luxor. The second stage of our journey had begun.

We landed in Luxor and went immediately to our boat, the Mojito. Why they named it after a Cuban cocktail that was apparently one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite drinks is beyond me, but after you go through the various Egyptian things you can name boats after, you start getting creative. The Mojito was very nice, and Krys took a bunch of pictures of our room and the boat itself. I'll get around to posting those at some point. We immediately got in our van and took off, heading south toward the only bridge within miles, which is way out of town. Our first stop: the Colossi of Memnon!

The statues are pretty impressive. They're just sitting there in the middle of the flood plain, although the road runs right alongside and naturally, there are plenty of merchants for your purchasing pleasure. We wandered over to the statues and ... took pictures. What did you think we were going to do, pee on them????










These last two pictures, obviously, are the merchants right by the statues. I found the juxtaposition of the modern merchants and the guy driving his goats along interesting.

The statues are in the middle of a flat plain, seemingly isolated, because there was once a temple behind them that is just now being excavated. There's a lot still under the sand in Egypt, and it will be interesting to see if it sheds any new light on a civilization we still don't know a lot about. We saw a little of the excavations as we drove by, but we had places to go and things to see! We were off to the Valley of the Kings!

The Valley of the Kings was pretty disappointing, I must say. We couldn't take pictures inside the tombs, so it might be disappointing to you, as well. However,even inside the tombs, it was kind of dull. I mean, sure, there are hieroglyphs aplenty, and there were some really weird pictures (the Buddha figures on the ceiling of one of the tombs were kind of neat), but they just weren't as impressive as the temples, probably because they were underground and couldn't really be as spectacular as when the Egyptians could flex their muscles and build on a bigger scale. So here are some of the tombs we entered, as well as the desert - we left Arizona for this?

















I did get a few pictures of the inscriptions around the doors of the tombs:




Then it was off to the temple of Hatshepsut, which is pretty keen. Hatshepsut was the daughter of Thutmose I, wife (and half-sister) of Thutmose II, and stepmother of Thutmose III. When Thutmose II died, she seized control of the kingdom and became Ancient Egypt's only female pharaoh (Cleopatra doesn't count). This is her mortuary temple, meant for posthumous worship. If the male pharaohs can do it, why can't she?




One the right side of the temple (from the front) was the Chapel of Anubis. Krys took some pictures, naturally:




This is the view looking east from the top level of the temple. The Nile is somewhere in the greenery in the background.


On the left side of the temple is the Chapel of Hathor, who was often shown as a cow. Krys took lots of pictures here, too:






After leaving the temple, we drove to the Valley of the Queens, which was also less than excellent. Again, it's not that it was all that uninteresting, it's just that it's hard to get worked up about the same hieroglyphics over and over again, especially when we would see them in far more spectacular settings (like Karnak) and not in holes in the ground. The merchants were out in force, of course, but we managed to elude them. When we got in the van, Mourad decided to take a short cut back to the boat, because it was getting late for lunch and we still had to head off to Karnak and Luxor. It was, as I mentioned, a pretty busy day! So we drove to the river and commissioned a small boat to take us across, because the bridge was so far south and it turns out the temple of Hatshepsut is almost directly across from the town of Luxor. So we hopped in, and I took a picture of Mourad looking thoughtful, as if he was deciding whether or not he should rob us on the high seas and dump our bodies in the drink! Okay, that's probably not what he was thinking - Mourad was a cool guy. We made it back to the boat for some lunch, but our day was far from over. Karnak awaited!

But that's another post. I apologize for the length of these posts and the time elapsed between them. It takes FOREVER to upload pictures, and we took almost 600 of them, so deciding which ones to put up takes a while. Sorry. I have a feeling everyone abandoned me long ago, but I'll keep writing about our vacation. You have to stick around - the French have almost entered the story!

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