Right now I am sitting in chaise lounge on a luxury boat floating gently along the Nile sipping guava juice brought to me by a super cute Egyptian guy with a killer smile named Allah. Not an image I would have expected in my childhood as being part of my adult life. I am not big on mystical self-help theories… and I think it would be boring to visualize what you want and then have it come to you like clock-work. It is much more fun to hop on a plane having barely read the itinerary and wake up every day to some unexpected adventures and delights.
It is now day 4 of our official touring activities. Days 2 and 3 were packed like one of my regular 13 hour work days so there has been no time to write about anything that I have seen or experienced. The overall feeling has been one of being pampered. I am not as well looked after as I was in Tanzania but it is a close second. What has been most enjoyable is meeting certain staff members and establishing a bond so I am not just some random tourist.
Back in Cairo it was Emad at the bar. I couldn’t understand 100% of what he was saying but he was so charming and gracious it didn’t matter. Here on board the ship I have Mohammed, who has taken the role of my personal server. I get the best Chardonnay (there are 3 choices) and he makes sure I am looked after at every turn. I will have to purchase something from Tito (a nickname) before I leave the boat. He runs the shop and has the same charm I encountered in Turkey. These Middle Eastern guys really give the Italians a run for the money 🙂 Everyone keeps trying to plan my NEXT trip to Egypt!
So… what have I been doing besides flirting with gorgeous Egyptian guys you ask? Well, I saw the Pyramids! So, one childhood goal ticked off. I was a little worried they might not live up to the imagery of my childhood dreams. But when you see them close up, they are astonishing. Apparently it was religious fervour that built them. Egypt’s history is so long, rich and complex and I am approaching it in such a haphazard way that I won’t be able to enlighten you much. I definitely need to read up when I get home so that I can put all the astonishing things I have seen into context.
Right now I only have a few basic facts. There was an Upper Egypt and a Lower Egypt and originally they had separate Pharoahs but there was a joining of kingdoms under one Pharaoh for a while, which was Egypt’s golden age. I think Ramses II was a really important Pharoah. But they were a whole bunch of Ramses – and they had a ton of wives so I think one of them had 200 children! I should likely be paying more attention to Sonia instead of wandering off trying to get better photos.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy listening to her and learning about Egypt. It’s just that there are 23 of us and usually a few other tour groups as well so getting a photo that looks like I am in Egypt alone is a challenge – and wandering away from the herd and trying different settings on my camera and playing with the light the best way to get a photo the rest of you might want to see.
And Sonia is Mediterranean. I really like her – but the instructions are kind of vague and the timetable far more flexible than she seems to think. Yesterday we were at the Temple of Karnak. You may have heard of it. I definitely had. But all these things are just random names. I don’t know any details. But apparently the “Hypostyle Hall” in the Temple of Karnak is an incredible forest of giant pillars, covering an area larger than the whole of Notre Dame Cathedral.
So far everywhere that we have been is astonishing. Hypostyle Hall was incredible but we were there midday, not a photographer’s delight. I WAS listening for quite a while but so was everyone else and it was hard to get a photo without a bunch of random heads in it. So I got obsessed with trying to get the right photo and figured it would be easy to catch up to the group.
I spied a couple of other people from our team also taking photos so figured it was fine… but then I looked up and they were gone. Earlier Sonia had stressed we had to leave by 11:35 and it was pretty close to that so naively I thought if I wandered out the temple to the entry point I would catch up with the group. Having been abandoned in Pompeii some years ago, I knew it was possible. But it didn’t seem A&K’s style.
But I believed Sonia’s timetable so thought they must be ahead of me, not behind. So I was running through the midday sun in the desert (it was about 43 degrees!), fighting off aggressive merchants and hoping I remembered the way back to the bus (it was a long, circuitous route). I arrived at the bus unscathed at the time we supposedly had to leave for the boat. But I was the only one there!
I realized this might be a bad thing – and Sonia might be looking for me back at the temple. I asked the driver to call her and tell her I was on the bus. He assured me he would. Then I waited… and waited… I asked him to call her 4x – and by time 3 I brought her contact sheet from the A&K info (with her photo :)) and my phone and gestured what to do as I was pretty sure he didn’t speak English and was just agreeing with me without understanding what I had said. I did eventually get him to call her but he just said she wasn’t answering her phone. And wouldn’t call again.
It all seemed pretty silly to me. I gather a search party had been organized – and I think I messed up the schedule a bit. BUT if we had BEEN on schedule, it would all have been fine. And why wouldn’t you train the guide to call the bus FIRST – or the bus driver to call the guide when some random passenger showed up early? The difference between Africa and North America…
At least I think my photos are pretty good and once I have proper internet access I will post them so you can see if you agree 🙂 More African adventures to come…