Three years ago we were in Egypt when were doing a humanitarian project for an organization called Coptic Orphans. We renovated apartments in the slums of Cairo for single women who were caring for orphaned children. At the end of that trip we took the overnight train to visit Luxor. While it was a great trip we never left the east bank. Today we started our Luxor visit by boarding small boats that took us across the Nile to the west bank.
The prime site on the west bank is the Valley of the Kings. It is where the ancient Egyptian kings had their graves constructed in the sides of the mountains. The area is extremely arid. Elaborate digging was done to construct the tombs and the entrances were sealed to prevent grave robbing. Still, nearly all of the graves were looted except for the famous grave of the young King Tutankhamen. There is still a lot of excavation going on in the site. The archeologists think that there are at least four more graves to be discovered. Maybe one or more of them will not have been looted. Unfortunately, cameras are not permitted in the Valley of the Kings so I don’t have photos.
For lunch we boarded sail boats and had a catered lunch out on the river. It was very nice lunch and afterwards we went back to the hotel. Many in the group visited the Karnak temple in the afternoon. We were both very tired and since we had toured the temple before we decided to get some much needed rest at the hotel.
In the early evening there was a question and answer session with our guides who were all Muslim. Eventually the conversation got into the current political situation. It was more than interesting to hear their take on it. They find the Egyptian President Morsi to be an embarrassment. He doesn’t understand protocol and doesn’t speak a word of English (in the cities even the children speak some English). They said that there will be another revolution and it may be led by the women. We were cautioned not to believe the extreme rhetoric that comes from some radicals that have been able to gain the attention of the media. The guides called the extremists “crazy” and that not one in 50 Egyptians agree with them. However, it’s always the crazies that get the media to take notice. Egypt is in a difficult situation right now. Many people feel that they are out from under the police state of Mubarak and no longer respect the police. There are terrible gas shortages. One of their prime sources of revenue, tourism, is down drastically. Right now they are limping along. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
There was a spectacular event scheduled for us in the evening. After the Luxor temple was closed to tourists we had it to ourselves for dinner, drinks and a show of Egyptian dancers. It was awe inspiring to wander around the lit up temple. It was another one of those unexpected events that has made the trip so sensational.
One of the small boat that we took to get to the west bank. Don’t ask my why they named it the Titanic but it did make it across.
One of the sailboats on which we had our catered lunch.
The Egyptian sunset from the balcony of our hotel room.
The moon above the obelisk at the Luxor Temple at night.
The Luxor Temple at night,