After excavating my partying self from the Au Revoir Event, kissing dance colleagues and friends I’d made, and heading to my room to pack, I enjoyed one skinny hour of sleep. This is not whining- sleep lost over such amazing adventures is a luxury. Sleep also seems to be a non essential in Egypt.

Yes, morning did find me a little weak at first but I perked up as I washed my hand full of vitamins, probiotics, and a nutrition bar down my throat. I checked out of the hotel, met Kanina and enjoyed a swift cab ride to the airport and an hour-long flight. Thus began yet another chapter of adventure called Luxor.

As soon as my shoes hit the Luxor tarmac, I felt something new that I’d not yet found in Egypt. I was caressed by clean morning air vs. choked by exciting Cairo smog. I was beckoned by open roads and a vast sky vs. entertained by lawless auto-congestion and kamikaze pedestrians. Most of all, my mind was blessed by a single goal which was to tour history. My three Cairene goals of dancing, touring, and working with suppliers for Alimah’s Closet felt far away in Cairo. This was Luxor with it’s Luxorious Oasis feel.

Both Kanina and I seemed to be slipping into a peaceful place where all we felt was serenity, expansiveness, and… hunger. We had planned to begin touring straight from the airport. Go, go, go with bags in tow. But we had to stop for food and a breathe of fresh air first.

Shwarma sandwiches and pepsi for breakfast on the balcony of Snacktime restaurant, was an unexpectedly intoxicating experience.  The novelty of a hoagy in the morning on a tippy top table, the fact that we were starved, and the amazing environment began to work a refreshing magic on me – even though Kanina kept cracking me up saying “OMG, this is soooo good”.

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Kanina over looking serene street life from Snacktime balcony.  p.s. Temple of Luxor stares at her.

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Sugar cane on the carriage floor.

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“Old and New, Past and Present?”   This guy could have easily fit in a thousand years ago. But here he is strolling by the motorcycles with his tahtib (stick).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gently waking town of Luxor below our balcony was dreamy and hypnotic.  Walkers seemed like sages, wise men, or scribes telling a story with each slow step. An occasional donkey cart clip-clopped it’s way past taking a piece of my mind away with it. Horse drawn carriages adorned with shiny, jingling metal tags pulled their slightly British beauty past us (the British occupied Egypt for 100 years, I think).

Even the screaming motor bikes racing through the scene were at half the speed of Cairo’s bikers. Once past, they’d simply slip around the bend leaving a calm, empty street before us again. A truck piled high with vegetables in hand-worked baskets bumped along making me grab for my camera. It was all so rich.

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Yes, apparently, Old McDonald has a Luxor delivery boy

This pleasant parade past mammoth Luxor Temple’s pillars and statues was perused by Kanina and I with our morning sod’s in hand. LOL I never drink soda. I think we could have sat there staring at the magnificent and mellowing sites side by side for a long time. Peering down over my right hand railing I could see a shop owner quietly grinding rough rock into smooth stones on a spinning wheel even as my whirling brain disengaged from the rush of Cairo. I was so content I could barely speak but I think I squeezed out a “Happy Birthday, Kanina.”

SIDE NOTE: What a thrill for me to be in Egypt with or without anyone celebrating life. But to have this be Kanina’s birthday, too, brought even more happiness to various moments in the day and the trip. As if “Celebrate life, grab it up, love it” were being delivered to us every day.

Egypt University is everywhere. Having minimal education about Egypt that I recall, having had resisted all fads to Walk Like an Egyptian and sing about King Tut in the 80’s and 90’s, having passed on name dropping the Goddesses of ancient history to avoid being a self-serve hijacker of history I didn’t really know about, I arrived in Egypt quite ignorant of it’s history. I tried reading books to get ready but found it a massive task full of terms I didn’t know.

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Our guide and friend, Egyptologist, Said.

 

 

 

 

 

This is why I was very excited when our tour guide introduced himself as a college graduated, certified Egyptologist. A chance to learn from an expert was upon me. Said was an articulate, proud Egyptian, who was also an incredibly efficient teacher.

Taking us to Karnak Complex first, our tall, twenty-something, highly-educated, multi-lingual teacher sat us in the lobby for quite a long time tutoring us to the relevant history. Said broke the chronology of Egypt’s ancient history down on a small note paper for us.  He spoke slowly as he pointed to his paper.

In this first lecture and all others, Said would always leave room for questions every few sentences and read our faces to make sure we were following along.  Said was never thrown by any question no matter how simple minded.  When we answered his questions correctly or interjected something which we observed, he would answer “Excellent” in a voice that had an inspiring mix of pleasant approval and professorial “this is serious business”.

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Said and Kanina

SIDE NOTE: Said was so attentive to our needs that later in the day, he re-worked the entire plan for us bc he could see we were getting tired. He made sure we could get a nap, eat, and see Luxor Temple by night when it was lit up instead of during the day – which was amazing, by the way.  What a blessing it was to have Said to lead our tour.  Worth every single penny.

***If you are going to Luxor, you must look Said up and book his services. Contact me or Kanina of Rhode Island for his info***.

You always remember your first Egyptian ruin.  Karnak, my love.  Being totally unschooled in these matters, I could not get my head around the fact that huge architectural structures were buried in sand, or partly buried, some had been so deeply buried that other structures were built on top of them by accident.  I could grasp losing a statue or two in a sand storm, but, these buildings were like losing the entire pentagon.

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