Okay, not quite Sugar Plums, but visions of ice-cream or lemonade is dancing in our heads. I am melting!!!! (Said the Wicked Witch of the West…) 😊 Today was our first full day in Egypt, our first time on the African Continent. The day started off benignly enough with breakfast, which consisted of an egg or omelet (made to appear as if they were a crepe, but with no sweet filling), cheese slices, some round pieces of meat (bologna?), some jelly and some sort of replica pita, with a bean curd to dip it in. Still, it was tasty and filling and prepared well with a nice presentation. It was washed down with “orange juice” (Read: Tang) for Dave and Egyptian coffee for Kathy. One cup of coffee and Kathy was already bouncing off the walls. A great energy boost for the day spent touring the sights of Cairo.
Our very knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide, Sam, started the day by taking us to Saqqara, an Egyptian village in Giza. It is world known for its vast, ancient burial ground of Egyptian kings and royal which served as the necropolis for the ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Saqqara contains numerous pyramids, including the world-famous Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb, and a number of mastaba tombs. (Thank you, Wikipedia!) We went into one of the tombs which has the actual hieroglyphics, still amazing to view thousands of years later. Our guide in the small tomb shone a light on the rock walls, which were made of alabaster and limestone. The alabaster section was translucent and was right next to the limestone which was opaque. What ingenuity!! He then turned off the lights and put a flashlight to the wall where a carving of the king could be seen in the shadows as a bas relief. Did I forget to say it is hot? The inside of the pyramid was much cooler and Dave mentioned that, if he were king, he would want to die early and spend more time inside!
After our tour of the ancient site, we went to a local Carpet School where a family has been making hand woven carpets for generations. Carpets made of Egyptian cotton, wool, and silk from China. We felt awed at the swift and talented fingers of the generations working on the carpets, from a young boy to an older male artisan. Most are made with a pattern to see where each stitch knot should go. The elder man created all of his rugs just from his mind. We did buy a beautiful carpet to bring home and put in our entry way, a reminder of our time here in Egypt.
Our next stop was the outdoor museum in Memphis (not the one in TN) where we saw a statue of Ramses II and other carvings and statues from days long ago. How these ancient Egyptians carved these huge statues out of single blocks of stone is still a wonder. Next stop was a papyrus school where we learned how the ancient paper was made. The painstaking methods taken to make the stems of the papyrus plant into paper that lasts for hundreds of years is amazing. It reminded us of how they made similar products in Samoa. We had an opportunity to purchase a painting on the papyrus but decided to pace ourselves when it came to the purse strings. Next step was a cotton shop where there were some of the most beautiful shirts, gowns, belly dancing outfits, and a tiny corner of men’s shirts and clothes. While Kathy was tempted to buy a beautiful gown, she refrained and managed to curb her spending impulses. A lovely interaction with a shop girl who kept giggling at Dave’s (and Kathy’s) jokes rounded off a wonderful afternoon.
Our last stop was Giza, home of the iconic pyramids and sphynx. We walked around the pyramids, dodged the people wanting to sell us trinkets or take us on a camel ride, and just marveled in awe at the history and majesty of the pyramids. Amazing how so long ago they were built and how precisely and beautifully.
Phew, we are now home, or at least our home for a couple of more nights. A shower to get the sweat off our bodies, a small catnap, and now time to think about a meal. Our first one since breakfast. (Dave must have missed the travel brochures where they mentioned that the Arabic language has no word for “lunch”.) You know what they say: “Fat boy’s gotta eat!” so the decision was made to have a pizza and “salad” delivered to the hotel. Surprisingly good, the crust was amazing. Kathy’s only huh??????? Who sends ketchup packets with pizza? She finally figured out why, no marinara sauce on the pizza. Just the way Kathy likes it cheese, beef pepperoni, and the crust. It could have used some chili peppers sprinkled on the top. Now just wishing for an ice-cream, or at least an ice-cold diet Coke.