*It’s been a while, but M and I have been left technologically stranded on a cruise boat for the last few days. To everyone who sent me emails and worried messages after hearing about the bus crash in Abu Simbel, thanks! M and I are great, having a blast. I’m currently blogging from an Internet cafe in Aswan.
Things may look a little strange with the formatting, it’s because posting with an Arabic keyboard is super weird. M and I will be back in Cairo tomorrow night (the 29th) and I’ll update with the backlog of posts I’ve written. Love and miss you all!* Edit: Formatting fixed!
After putting my last post up, I slept for a little less than two hours and we had to get up and be on our way to the airport. Luxor was waiting for us. Even though I looked somewhat chirpy at 4:45 a.m., I was most definitely not. However, I perked up when I saw our plane because I knew we were in for a good time – whenever you have to walk up stairs to board a flight, adventure beckons. The flight was short and sweet, and almost before we knew it, we were here!
Shawki, our new tour guide for the next few days, was waiting for us at the airport and led us to our cruise boat – “Mojito” – where we checked in briefly, put our luggage away, and set out for the Temples of Carnak. Like Ahab, our tour guide in Cairo, Shawki is a veritable fount of ancient Egyptian history knowledge and his passion for his culture and people is palpable. The man can talk.
As he described the different details and specifics of the main Temple of Carnak, he made sure to steer us away from the crowds and position us at various spots for the best views of the monuments. He also had little regard for “Keep Out” signs or roped-off areas. Shawki had us ducking under or over such barriers and venturing into forbidden territory. We love Shawki.
The Temples of Carnak are immense and its history is even more staggering. Egypt has eight millenia behind it. Makes America’s few hundred years of history sort of measly.
These temples used to be all covered under tons of mud and sand because of floods from the Nile. Workers are still digging because there’s more to uncover. We saw likenesses of Ramses II and Nefetari, his “beauty has come” wife who is always depicted as a tiny statue barely reaching her husband’s knee. Shawki had a great time making jokes about “a woman’s place” with that one. Carnak has 134 columns and took 2,000 years to build. It sits on 200 acres. Unbelievable.
There is the Sacred Lake where pharaohs and priests used to purify and bath themselves before visiting the temple. And there was also a scarab statue (scarabs are good luck) you walk three times around for good luck, and seven times for a good marriage. We did seven loops.
All in all, it was an awe-inspiring experience.
We were supposed to see the Temple of Luxor in the morning as well, but Shawki likes to take his time and we explored Carnak for a little too long to have sufficient sight-seeing time according to him. So instead of taking us there anyway and having to rush a bit to see it all, Shawki volunteered to do a night tour for us. Of course we jumped at the offer. Really nice of him.
Details next post!