Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt

Today was quite exciting indeed. We visited the Pyramids of Giza. We took lots of fun photos and saw many local beggars and children who were friendly for money. We hired a tour bus for our excursion, and our tour guide, Amr, was quite funny, interesting, and entertaining. With a bachelor degree in philosophy and also one in Egyptology, he was quite knowledgeable and exciting to listen to while on the two and a half hour journey to Cairo. He was able to to involve everyone on the bus in discussing what is needed to build a pyramid.
Me Again
Once we went down near the sphynx, all chaos took hold. We took more photos, purchased a few things from the people setting up shop, and then my greatest memory which I will never forget occured. I found a scarab box that I wanted to purchase. I asked the man how much it was, and he said "$25.00" so I said well I dont have that much cash on me. He then said "$15.00" so I said "no thank you" and walked away as the rest of my party was heading towards the bus. As I was several steps away under the hot sun, the man came running after me. "Mam, for you, $5 if you show me your eyes." Sure enough I smiled, flipped my sunglasses up to flash my brown eyes at him. I reached into my blouse for my cash I had stashed away and handed him the money. He smiled and waved and I walked on.

Upon leaving and seeing the entire busload of people up ahead, I was running behind. I was walking when I suddenly heard screaming. I looked and there was a young man being dragged by an older man, and the kid was losing his shoes and was crying and screaming. There was another man in his traditional dress and head covering, holding one hand in the air and yelling in Arabic. He had an open bag below him. I for a moment wanted to intervene, but then quickly remmbered that I was in a foreign country and could not. I just had to scurry away as fast as I could. I do not know what the child did, or what his fate would be, but Ill never forget that moment.

We boarded the bus again, and were surrounded by locals with papyrus. They waited for more tourists to show up, and wandered away as we drove off. We stopped for lunch at a local hotel where they had prepared a buffet of local and international dishes, which were all very good by the way. We were greeted at the granite steps of the hotel with an Egyptian band wearing traditional dress and playing music with bag pipes and drums.

After lunch, we visited the papyrus institute to see how papyrus is made, and then we visited a local jewelry shop. Once we finished there, we headed to the Egyptian Museum. Amr took us through and showed us the major points in the museum which included the articles found in King Tutankhamen's tomb from the Valley of the Kings. There were thousands of artifacts in the un-ar-conditioned and poorly lighted space. Beads, sarcophaguses, shoes, mummified animals and crocodiles, mummies, gold jewelry, stone figures, old kingdom and new kingdom artifacts. It was all very interesting of course and took me back to my days in design school and humanities courses.

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