The Energizer Cowboys who kept things humming at the reunion

The Energizer Cowboys who kept things humming at the reunion
These kids know how to have fun!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Land of contrast and extremes: Egypt

Mary Ellen Edmunds...our fearless leader!

In front of the 2nd Pyramid of Giza
I'm not sure what we were expecting from Egypt, as it was never a place I ever thought we'd go, but I'm so thankful to have had that experience, and also to have learned more about the early Pharoahs from Brother Porter.

We saw great extremes from poverty and shabby dwelling areas, to the most modern of libraries and beautiful harbors.

   We docked in Alexandria, and drove to Cairo and the pyramids at Giza. It took 3 hours to get to there.   We weren't prepared for the aggressive sellers, and had to quickly learn to barter with Arabs!  It was draining-- no wonder the UN has such a hard time negotiating! Bonnie said, "Offer them 1/3rd of what they ask, then hagle."
  Our camel ride was probably the most exotic thing we did.  It was a long ways up; the ride had kind of a front to back rock, so calling the camel the "ship of the desert" is appropriate.  The rides were arranged by our tour guides and cost $5 each. 

I'm so glad we were able to do that, as well as being able to walk to all the places on each tour.  We also went down into a catacomb in Cairo.  
300 people in our group with LDS Travel, traveled in 6 busses,
complete with an armed guard as shown below.

A winding staircase descended several levels deep into the ground, with little chapels opening from it, furnished with benches to accommodate visitors or mourners bringing offerings. There are niches cutout to hold sarcophagi.

For two days, ate lots of meat and rice for meals.  Below is a large spit, where our lunch was cooked!

Like normal, Steve said he wasn't going, then changed his mind.

Not too scary in this position!

Yellow group tour buddies:  KC Benedict, Sandi, and Ethel--desert riders! 

We learned a lot about the early Egyptians and their belief in the plan of salvation, even to the point of having their burial texts inscriped in the core of the pyramids, and on their sarcophagi.  Their understanding came from their connection to the House of Israel through Ham and Egyptus

This barque was only discovered about 60 years ago, and was buried below the Cheops Pyramid, ensuring that the Pharoah would have transportation on his journey into eternity to become a deity. Great care was taken to provide a beautiful barque to the pharaoh for this journey, and models of the boats were placed in their tombs

Their papyrus facsimilies also reinforce their understanding of death, judgement,
and temple ceremonies and align themselves with core beliefs of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

We saw all kinds of art work on papyrus at this shop and watched a demonstration on how papyrus is made.  We learned that cheap imitations are made from banana leaves.

Steve's funny story:  "In Cairo we stopped at an oil show where they showed us different kinds of essential oils.  They  put one scent on each of our fingers so we could smell the oils.  They had oils for almost every purpose: growing hair, helping your joints, clearing sinuses.  The man giving the demostration showed us one particular oil.  He said,  "Ladies even if your husband is asleep if you put some of this oil on he will wake up and will be like an Arabian stallion full of vigor and vim, and will be able to go all night long.  When the girl put some of the oil on my finger and after smellingt it, I did my Bronco horse neigh. The fellow stopped talking for a minute, while everyone was laughing, and then said, "See ladies, it really works.  Every one in the group really cracked up.  I don't think your mother bought any of that oil."
Day 2 in Alexandria, Oct. 11
"The Pearl of the Mediterranean"

Beautiful bridges in Alexandria
When Alexander the Macedonian , son of Greek king Philip arrived in Egypt in hot pursuit of the Persians , the traditional enemy of the Greeks , he succeeded in beating them with the help of Egyptians who responded favorably to him because he respected their religion and did not obligate them to abandon it .
When the war was over, Egypt 's priests crowned Alexander as a pharaoh. In 331 B.C. Alexandria, named after its founder, Alexander the great, was completed. 

In the first and second century B.C. , it was the only city in the human history, with a population of 100,000-150,000 inhabitants belonging to various "nationalities". The city was subdivided into three distinct quarters:

1. Royal Hellenistic quarter ( on the Harbor)
2. Egyptian national quarter in the west
3. Jewish quarter in the east. Today there are hardly any Jews left in the city, though their synagogues still remain.
Driving is interesting in Egypt as there are no traffic lights, nor stop signs.

Many apartment buildings are unfinished because they are exempt from taxes.  We even saw one three-story building with a goat herd on the top.

Compare that to their new state of the art, library on the harbor, complete with modern technology, 3 museums, and planetarium. It is open to the world via the internet:

Mmmmm, yum.  Shrimp eyes and rice!  I opted for tough chicken and rice.  Condiments and fillings for pita bread were served in both Egypt and Israel.

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