As many of our readers know, we’ve taken a break from our adventure abroad by traveling back to L.A. to see our friends and to help our good friend Gary celebrate his 40th birthday. It was good to be “home”—L.A. is certainly familiar and comfortable, but I was very conscious of the fact that we don’t live there anymore.
We’re currently in Iowa, dealing with our pile of accumulated mail, doing our taxes, stocking up on stuff you can’t buy in Egypt, and visiting family. We fly back to Cairo on Monday, though it will take us a couple of days to get there.
We spent the weekend in Luxor and our room was only $14 a night!
Of course, that’s pretty typical for Egypt, actually, and overall Luxor is a bit pricier than Cairo.
Luxor is a 10 hour train trip from Cairo and was the seat of power for many hundreds of years in ancient times. It was amazing to experience and I would say it should be nearly mandatory for anyone coming to Egypt to see the sights here. It was quite breathtaking. A highlight was a 3 or so hour bicycle trip we took into the beautiful rocky hills where they uncovered Tutankhamoun’s tomb (Valley of the Kings) among other things. The photo you’re looking at is from the so-called Rammeseum, a temple dedicated to Ramses II, the ‘buildiest pharoah’! We also visited Luxor Temple (which is smack-dab in the middle of town) and Karnak, a huge temple that features a “Hollywood-style sound and light show” after dark. We went to the show but the fact that we couldn’t find Sushi ANYWHERE afterwards ruined the illusion.
“Smell the Hot Taste!”
“As Good As it Takes”
That second one is the tagline on the bottle of Demy’s hot sauce I am right now pouring on my fried egg and cheese sandwich this sunny Saturday morning in Cairo.
The first is confidently emblazoned on the menus at a nearby upscale cafe/restaurant.
Most packaged products sold in Cairo are labeled primarily in English and very often Engrabic.
There’s also a bizarre parallel phenomenon of ‘rip-off liquor names’ for locally made hard liquors. Strangely they seem compelled to even avoid the word “gin” in many cases, like it’s trademarked! (not that Egypt usually concerns itself with trademarks). Some examples:
Gordoon’s Dry Gin
Admiral’s Dry Kin
[another brand] Dry Din (bottled in a used Gordon’s Dry Gin bottle)
Red and Black Label whisky (but not Johnny Walker)
“Hey, I swear I saw that same guy yesterday!” But I hadn’t. The new man passing me in the streets of Cairo just had the same very prominent bruise in the middle of his forehead. Once you start looking you find it on about half the men you see, often slanting more heavily towards men over 40. It’s a marker of devotion to prayer and Islam. During prayer a muslim touches their head to the mat on which they kneel repeatedly, and if you do it fast, hard, and enough (5 prayer calls per day for the pious) you develop a welt that passer-bys can’t help but notice. Haven’t noticed a similar mark on women but the devout are the ones most certainly shrouded in a head scarf.
The second Heroes of the Expedition, Jason and Junko Schugardt, left this morning back to London. Over the past week we’ve been having lots of adventures around town together.
One day we zipped down to the pyramids at Giza and jumped on some camels and horses. After 3 hours of that our butts were feeling it. A sand storm even whipped up for a minute or two and we were rained on. Wonder if frogs would have started falling if we hung around. (Sue stayed home to study like a trooper).