Friday, May 02, 2008

Going to Egypt pt XII

An early-morning flight back to Cairo. The staff of the Hamees hands us breakfast boxes for the trip, we say our thanks and hand out our tips and drive off in the dark.

Amgat, our Egyptologist guide and our driver, Ali, are waiting for us as we exit the airport. We have to hurry, Amgat says, because he has secured us tickets to go inside the pyramid of Cheops. W00t!

No cameras inside, so you'll just have to go and see it for yourselves. Because we got there so early we practically had the place to ourselves. Awesome. I even had the space to slide down the long bannister leading from the King's Chamber to the Queen's Chamber on my arms.

No cameras inside the Egyptian Museum, so no pictures there, either. But it, too, was bitchin'. After the museum we went to a couple of bookstores Amgat thought we might like. I don't remember, as I was getting pretty tired by that point. Which is too bad, because this party of adventures really likes its books. Don and Amgat even get into a "my library is bigger than yours" boasting match.

I do remember the mad dash through traffic in the very large Midan Tahrir rotary to reach one of the bookstores. That woke me up! I thought Glenn was going to cry, and I'm a little surprised we didn't get splatted. But the traffic is so friendly! I saw someone on a motorbike hit a pedestrian—didn't knock him down, just bumped him good—and nobody got hostile or batted an eye, just went about their business.

That's me and Ali, our bestest driver ever. And he proved it, too, on our very long day in Alexandria. I think it was a 14-hour day for us, and after dropping us off at our hotel at the end of it Ali then had to drive home! But on the early-morning drive across the desert to Alexandria we were all perky and eager to be heading to the jewel of the ancient world. Most of which is no longer in existence, but we were gonna see what we can, and at least say, Hey we've been to Alex.

Throughout the two-plus hour drive, we passed dovecotes, some large, some small, incorporated onto roofs. Greg tried one for dinner one night. A lot of work for not much meat, was his opinion.

And then there were structures like this...I still don't know what it was, but if I saw this in Mexico I would've found out! Of course, Mexico has a more relaxed attitude toward the unexpected than the Egyptian tourist police.

One of the charming things about Alexandria is the Ptolemaic- and Roman-era artwork, a pastiche of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman iconography. Like this Set (?) beast dressed as a Roman.

There's a tiny entrance to a hidden room...quick! Where's Short Round? D'oh! She's holding the camera.

I could kick myself for not thinking of this at the time and making a movie of this, so we are stuck with a photo our the windshield of our tourvan. We are driving down one of Alex's narrow, crowded streets. The street is full of people, and a souk filling the sidewalk on our right. D'oh! Here comes one of Alexandria's charming streetcars—and we are driving on its tracks. So of course Ali nudges the wheel and we start driving on the sidewalk, slowly, as the souk vendors grab their tables and hustle out of our way. It was like being in the Bluesmobile as it drove through the mall in "Blues Brothers," but with a different soundtrack.

The tombs of Anfouchy, and the last photo I took in Egypt before boarding a plane the next day and flying home to San Francisco.

It's been a month and a half and I'm still sorting out in my head all that we saw. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt is helping, as is going through all these photos. Sigh. Travel rocks.

I'm thinking about where I want to go next year. Maybe Iceland, or back to Oaxaca.

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