Most of Cairo was asleep as my cab pulled away from the hotel. Soon the streets and sidewalks would bustle with people, cars, buses, bikes, and mopeds. For now, in the dusty morning light, it was my cab and a donkey cart. The cart had no driver. Yet, the donkey trotted with confidence and purpose, crossing the street carefully as two men slept in the back. I don’t know where the donkey was going but I was on my way home following a whirlwind tour of Egypt.
That I was in Egypt at all mystified me. I had read Death on the Nile and Elizabeth Peters’ excellent mysteries. I knew about the Pyramids, King Tut, Ramses, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra. That was about it.
When my sister Clara, a travel agent, invited me to cruise up the Nile between Luxor and Aswan, I couldn’t refuse. We met in Cairo and flew together to Luxor, where the Osiris, our floating hotel, awaited.
Shopping in downtown Luxor, a tour of the Temple, and a spectacular light and sound show at the Temple of Karnak, left us exhausted. As we slept, Osiris crossed the river to the West Bank of the Nile. To avoid the daytime heat, buses left at 6AM for the necropolis at the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. We wore sturdy shoes and carried flashlights, bottled water, and sun tan lotion.
The tombs had been cut deep into rocky hills. The walking was strenuous. Inside the tombs, colorful, well preserved murals and hieroglyphics depicting the life and death of the entombed covered the walls and ceilings of uneven passageways.
With terraces and colonnades, Queen Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple at Deir al-Bahri rests below towering cliffs. Here, a member of our group revealed she had been Hatshepsut in a previous life. Sadly, the tomb drawings were destroyed by the Queen’s successor. He wished to eradicate any trace of this woman who ruled as a man.
Though hot and humid on land, on the river, it was cool and relaxing when afternoon tea was served. Occasionally, we heard the call to prayer from towering minarets. We sailed north to Dendera and the tomb of Hathor, goddess of heaven, joy, and love. From there, we bused to Abydos, the final resting place of the god Osiris.
Heading south, we stopped in Esna, Edfu, and Kom Ombo which is protected by two gods. Harwar, a hawk headed god and Sobek, a crocodile share a twin temple with one side dedicated to each. In Aswan, we traded Osiris for a graceful felucca to sail to the botanical gardens on Kitchener’s Island and to the Aga Khan’s mausoleum.
Returning to Cairo, Clara and I visited the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Visitors don’t walk into the pyramids. Rather, they crawl along an ascending or descending passage though galleries and chambers. It is not for those who are claustrophobic. At the bottom of the Pyramids, sits the Sphinx. Part lion, part man, the Sphinx faces east to watch the rising of the sun, the return of life each day.
Each Wednesday, KMM’s staff members share stories and anecdotes about their
memorable vacations, recent and past. These will be personal
recollections about trips to our beloved Jersey shore, across America,
and around the world. Changes in Latitude………..