I know I've been meaning to post about my adventures in Egypt, but life happens and this will probably be a shorter write-up that doesn't express all the aspects of Egypt. As I get ready for another journey soon, I realize that I needed discuss the quirky but glorious times of Egypt with my muse.
Cairo - In Cairo, I would have a wonderful tour guide who showed us the first pyramids of Djoser before moving on to the glorious Great Pyramids and Sphinx. I feel no words will convey their majesty and amazingness as it was so great to finally learn how they were built in steps then covered in limestone. We had hilarious hotel experiences with perfume, breakfast boxes and some great pigeon and mixed meat at the place of our tour guide. I also enjoyed shopping around for papyrus where the guy entertained with glow in the dark cats.....which are not very common in Egypt.
Speaking of which, there were a variety of myths about Egypt that were pretty dashed when here. Nobody has a "Walk Like an Egyptian" pose here, all the Egyptians are my skin tone or darker (and there's even some Nubians and Hittites who they traded and fought with on there), and there are so many different poses and representations of the gods and goddesses it's mind boggling. On the return, before seeing some of the Christian and Muslim region of Cairo-change of pace, we saw King Tut's wonders - the man had layers and layers of gold and was probably the original cribs with how much jewelry he had and he huge pierced ears. However, pretty soon I was Ancient Egypted out as I need a break from it to see other global aspects. We celebrated a birthday with our tour guide's other client and had a blast which makes for those really magical moments I enjoy in travel that are impromptu.
Luxor - Luxor was a big shift and a far smaller, more religious but still touristy town. We had a shift in drivers and tour guides which wasn't great as the Luxor (and later Aswan) tour guide was bizarre and socially inept. It was good to note that I wouldn't be doing tours that much again and probably going back to my usual way of figuring it out. However, the treasures in Luxor are worth it. Luxor Temple is a pretty cool temple in the shape of Ramses II*, but the Karnak Temple with its huge pillars, the colorful Dendara Temple (go there!), Queen Hapshepsut's nicely designed place (only female Pharaoh!) and of course the Valley of the Kings which showcased preserved ancient tombs and their walls that depicted Egyptians as Black, not Arab nor white. It's empowering to know we built all of Ancient Egypt and you really can't know until you go and see those statutes, colors, styles, and figures for yourself.
The other highlights were the strange food we went to for a tour that was overly classy Italian food (strange to have), shifting guides, Alabaster sales, hookahs (official) and lemon mint juice, with Muslims celebrating Merry Christmas at the hotel while taking pictures in Santa outfits - go figure.
*Ramses II built most of the temples you will see in all of Egypt, he unified Upper and Lower Egypt and loved his power. After seeing his mummy, I realized he was a pretty big dude for the time and lived for about sixty years. He and to a lesser extent, his wife Nefertari, are all over the country and you will get used to that symbol. A true master of his domain.
Aswan/Abu Simbel - Aswan had less on the temple side but the Philae Temple on an island and the magnificent Abu Simbel, are worth the journey (even if it took four crazy hours in a car). Abu Simbel is another three hours or so from Aswan - Sudan is visible from it - but it is arguably one of the best temples in the country, huge statutes, walls and dedication to the gods/goddesses and Ramses and his wife. It is timeless.
Still the main attraction in Aswan is its modernity mixed with tradition. Everyone will try to convince you to take a boat on the Nile River, the back alleys offer tea house, a hustler might know all four or five languages you ignore him in, people in my skin tone with curly hair are in hijabs or not, and a promoter might get you to follow him on facebook for the grand opening of his hipster dessert spot. Yes Aswan, is a bizarre combination of Luxor and Cairo or past and present and it's intriguing just to walk in its bizarreness. The only negative would be that one of the guys taking us to the airport tried to hustle us because of not tipping as much (they will want a tip everywhere) it was a bad practice and I can definitely only recommend Jakada Tours for Cairo and Alexandria. Find a driver and enjoy Luxor and Aswan otherwise. You should also definitely fly everywhere.
All in all, while some moments were silly, it was still an absolutely wonder to return to the Fatherland and see the glory of Ancient Egypt and all the Blackness that went into building it and the knowledge gleaned from it.