Friday, February 19, 2016

The Valley of the Kings


It is an indescribable feeling walking through tombs of Kings that are centuries old. When you are reading graffiti from the Greeks then you know you are so far back in time, it is hard to wrap your head around it! That was what this morning was like.

Of course we first had to take care of a little problem in our cabin - the bathroom. Not working - not even all the attempts they made yesterday to fix the toilet, it was terrible by morning. So as soon as reception opened we were able to change cabins across the way. Everything seems to be working - we'll see.
Valley of the Kings
We were on the road to the West bank of the Nile by around 8 am. At the Valley of the Kings, there are no photos allowed - we had to leave our camera in the car. So I am not able to share any of the sights that we experienced inside the tombs. There are 63 tombs in the Valley of the Kings. King Tutankhamen being number 62 to be discovered. Our ticket included entrance to three tombs. King Tut's tomb was extra and Ash said it really wasn't worth going into. It is tiny and nothing is in there. We saw most of it at the museum.
During Egypt's New Kingdom (1539-1075 B.C.) the valley became a royal burial ground for pharaohs such as Tutankhamun, Seti I, and Ramses II, as well as queens, high priests, and other elites of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties.
As we were leaving, Ash noticed a crowd was forming. It turned out to be Jehan Sadat (wife of Anwar Sadat). Geoff and I were able to shake her hand and talk to her for a bit. Since we did not have the camera, Ash got a reporter to take our picture. Hopefully, he will send it to him.  She is a great woman and it was an honor to meet her.
Over the course of 32 years, Jehan was a supportive wife for her rising political husband who would go on to become President of Egypt. She is mother to their three daughters Noha, Jihan, Lobna and son Gamal. She later used her platform as the first lady of Egypt to touch the lives of millions inside her country, and served as a role model for women everywhere. She helped change the world’s image of Arab women during the 1970s, while undertaking volunteer work, and participating in non-governmental service to the less fortunate.
From here we stopped at the stone shop for a demonstration of carving and polishing stone. We picked up a gift and wanted it inscribed with both English and hieroglyphics. Put in our order and went off to visit the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, known as – Dier El Bahari.
Walk like an Egyptian
The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, the Djeser-Djeseru ("Holy of Holies"), is located beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. The mortuary temple is dedicated to the sun god Amon-Ra and is located next to the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II, which served both as an inspiration, and later, a quarry. It is considered one of the "incomparable monuments of ancient Egypt."  The temple was the site of the massacre of 62 people, mostly tourists, by extremists that took place on 17 November 1997.
The Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw is responsible for the study and restoration of the three levels of the temple. As of early 1995, the first two levels were almost complete, and the top level was still under reconstruction.
Queen Hatshepsut was acknowledged as a King and not a Queen.  We saw the two statues of her at the museum yesterday. The first as a woman with a soft face, and then behind that she is posed as a man with a face having sharp lines. She was probably the first powerful woman recorded in history.

It was back to the stone cutters to pick up our gift. Ooops! Since Egyptians read right to left, the name we spelled out was transcribed upside down! Back to the drawing board -- we'll be back.

The next stop was the Necropolis of Thebes to see the twin, 63 feet high Colossi of Memnon.
The Colossi of Memnon (known to locals as el-Colossat or es-Salamat) are two massive stone statues of PharaohAmenhotep III, who reigned during Dynasty XVIII. For the past 3,400 years (since 1350 BC) they have stood in the Theban necropolis, west of the River Nile from the modern city of Luxor.
Back to the stone cutters for the last time. Success. We paid up and sat and rested with some Egyptian coffee (which is actually Turkish coffee) before heading back to the boat.

Lunch at 1pm and sailing at 2pm. Like yesterday, we headed up to the deck after lunch - tasted another  Egyptian specialty - molokheya: spinach like soup. Pretty good.  Jumped in the pool for a while and waited to cast off from the dock. Well, our group of Egyptian grandmothers came strolling down to the ship an hour later than scheduled. Guess they didn't get the 2;00 or else memo! I wonder if they would have waited for the two Americans if we were an hour late. 
Speaking of Americans, I noticed that whenever we went into an exhibit, Ash would always say English not American. I asked about this. If the guards thought we were American, they would want to provide added security just for us. So to spare all the hassle, he just says English. So far we have felt very secure and extremely welcomed everywhere we go. Everyone wants to talk to us about politics and to let us know that they are just people and not the government.  We chatted with a man from Pakistan on board the ship while we waiting to cast off. He asked where in the States we are from. Geoff said outside Boston. He replied, "Oh, that is where the educated people are!" We got a kick out of that.

We are now cruising down the Nile. Another romantic image dissolving before my eyes. The haze from the smog and all the black smoke from, I have no idea what, kind of spoil the romance.  Not to mention the strange languages, smells, and costumes that surround us. Oh well, it is all part of the experience and being able to stand inside a 3500 year old tomb makes it all worth it. This is turning into quite the adventure.

A beautiful sunset on the Nile - we left a little of Jerry B. and relaxed in our cabin till dinner. 

Just got back in after another good meal and some free entertainment. We went up to the top deck after dinner to see the passage through the lock. This little row boat was tagging along making all kinds of ruckus that we couldn't understand. Ash told us that he throws his wares up to the women and they choose what they want to buy and throw the money back down. The little boat looked like a parasite traveling next to a whale. This boat followed our ship most of the way from dock to lock trying to sell stuff. What a commotion. It's not bad enough that you can't go anywhere without people either trying to sell you something or coming straight out and asking you for money, now we are being harassed on the river. The "bubbas" however, were eating it up! This country is wild. 

Should reach Edfu by 8am.  Good night.

Next time.... More Nile Temples


1 comment:

  1. I remember the first time I was in London, standing along history from before the year 1000 AD, and then in Ireland seeing the ancient cairns, dating from the same period as the Valley of the Kings (but a bit less impressive looking!). Especially as Euro-Americans, where our history is less than 500 years old, it is hard to wrap your head around. Truly amazing to know it is all there and even more so I am sure to actually be among that ancient civilization. And of course I must add the simpler comment - WOW!!!