Saturday, October 18, 2008

Egypt:: Entrance and Exodus

From September 30, 2008

My view of Egypt comes through a thick lens of tour buses and 5 star
hotels. So to me it seemed like a beautiful place. I loved to drive
through Cairo in my air conditioned bus looking down on the people. I
know that when you are there with them it must be a lot dirtier, but I
was happy to observe. The architecture in Cairo is very interesting.
At first glance all of the buildings look completely unfinished. But,
in fact, the Egyptians purposely leave the roof of each square
building so that their sons can build on top of the parent's house.

I really loved Cairo but a lot of the fun on our trip took place in
Luxor. We took an hour long flight from one city to the next. I was
worried about taking my bottles of sunscreen on the plane, so I
meticulously squeezed the shampoo and soap out of the complimentary
bottles at out hotel in Cairo, and tried to get as much sunscreen in
the little bottles as I possibly could. I then stowed away my real
bottles at the hotel that we would come back to a couple days later.
My efforts were pointless. I beeped at the security gate, the Egyptian
man looked at me and said, "Bomb? Do you have a Bomb?" When I said no
he instructed me to pass without any other inspection! Upon realizing
that there was a second security I feared that my great story would
lose its climax. I beeped again, I took off my necklace, I still
beeped, I took off my bracelet, and I beeped a third time. The
Security officer got a little annoyed with the hold up and pushed me
on through. I think I could have gotten my sunscreen onto the plane.

Luxor is a beautiful place. It is home to the Valley of the Kings,
where many pharaohs were buried after they started realizing that
pyramids were a big target for grave robbers. Here I saw King Tut's
tomb, which was not very large; Maybe the size of an average living
room. In the Egyptian museum we say the treasures that were held in
his tomb, which was never found by thieves. The small chamber had been
filled from top to bottom with GOLD. He had clothes, toys, coffin
after coffin after coffin and golden head dresses. It was a sight to
behold. In the Valley of the Kings I saw three other tombs, or also
known as complimentary saunas. The paintings and hieroglyphs were
amazingly preserved.

In Luxor we also spent quite a bit of time shopping! I can't believe I
ever thought that the Bazaar in Jerusalem was scary and the vendors
were pushy. You can't walk down the street in Egypt without being
heckled or pushed into a store. "No hassle, there is no hassle here….
Come on and spend your money here there is no hassle" was often heard
as the merchants pulled on your arm and followed you down the street.
Or they would yell "How can I take your money?" At least they are
honest about that.

I think that the only female western icons that have reached Egypt are
the spice girls. I was told that I look just like baby spice at least
15 times every day. And the best part is I don't look at all like Baby
Spice. The other great "compliment" that I got came from a waiter that
worked at the hotel. He said, "If you wore a long dress and a veil you
would be the most beautiful woman here." I wasn't quite sure how to
take it.

A real highlight of the trip was taking a camel ride through a
residential village near Luxor. I think it may have been the most
exotic thing I've ever done. My camel driver's name was Achmed, who
know how to say two things in English. 1- my name is Achmed 2- so
little for tip? My camel's name was Casablanca, which was a better
name than five other camels named Bob Marley in the group. i liked
the ride because we had a chance to see women in their own
neighborhood. They looked happy and motherly. They held and laughed
with their children as a heard of 80 camels and Americans walked down
their streets. They were beautiful.

On our way home from Egypt we stopped at the very end of the Sinai
Peninsula to hike to the top of Mount Sinai for a sunrise. We woke up
at 1:00 am and left our mosquito filled rooms (35 bites and counting)
to start the trek to the top. The hike was a little difficult, but the
group I walked with was fine taking it slow. we made it to the top
just in time to see the sunrise. it was a magnificent place, and the
best view I've ever seen.

I am happy to be back home at the Jerusalem Center, where I can eat
fruit and brush my teeth with the tap water, but I was very grateful
to go to Egypt, which has been a dream of mine since I was 10 and my
Dad and I tried to learn Arabic out of a dictionary so I could be an
Egyptologist. Marhaba and Shukron, dad.

Lots of Love from Yisriel and Ygypt

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