The biggest insect caution we got when coming to Egypt was mosquitoes. I haven’t seen one in over a week here. What drives me crazy are the flies. They are incessant. They fly at your face, nose, ears, and mouth. Swish them away and they are back in a second. There are not many inside the air-conditioned hotel and there are not any hanging around the boat. I think the coolness of the AC and the constant breeze set by the moving boat are deterrents.
If you do any research prior to your trip to Egypt you will most likely be apprehensive about setting foot outside your hotel for fear the touts will overwhelm you. I have not found this to be the case at all. There are touts. There are touts that will try to interest you in anything saleable. Some folks will show you something ‘really special’ and then expect to be paid for doing it. I have yet to follow any of them. Others have wares that you might ‘need.’ Really, all these folks are just marketing the way they know how. I have run into very few that are aggressive and most of the time ‘la a’(no) or ‘la a shukran’ (no thank you) is sufficient enough for the tout to cease pestering you. I always try to be polite and in the long run I approach the situation as good fun, part of life in Egypt. Walking though a market would be terribly boring without these people.
When visiting Bhutan, we were about to go into the umpteenth temple in two weeks and I turned to Debbie and said ‘I’m zhonged out’. The temples in Bhutan are zhongs and they all started to look the same and I had no more capacity to absorb any more Buddhist lore. It has been 7 days since we landed in Egypt and my brain is full. The temples are starting to look the same and I cannot sort one God or ruler from the other. There are kings that are famous for some reason or another and some that are obscure. There are warriors and there are builders. There is the first, the second and the third and right now the are all muddled together. I’m templed out.
Prior to leaving on this trip I got a phone call from a friend saying I should give him a call. He had been in Egypt in the spring. I called. He told me the trip was very good, the boat down the Nile was exceptional. He did feel he should give me a warning. “Don’t go outside the hotel compound, Egypt is really sketchy.” I am always leery when I hear things like that. I have heard it so many times I take it with a grain of salt. Somehow this fellow had been informed or convinced that because there are many armed policemen at varying street corners in the cities and armed guards at the gates of the hotel that Egypt is unsafe. The guides and folks we have met all say Egypt is a very safe place to be. We have been wandering around Cairo and Luxor and frankly I think the warning could not have been farther from the reality. Not once have I felt threatened or in any kind of danger. I have turned on my spidey sense and it has not tingled at all. One day I may get burned but I must believe that the vast majority of people are good and you can’t live your life based on the action of a few bad ones.
We did not plan to visit any of the tombs inside the pyramids but we had the opportunity and took it. Jasmine our guide told us if we wanted to do that we should go to the bent or red pyramids. It was free to go into those where as the three more famous and more visited pyramids there was a charge. The caveat was that the bent pyramid had the hardest passageway. It is very low and long and there are many ups and downs. This of course is a challenge if I have ever heard one.
Debbie entered first. The corridor shrank in height very quickly. The first part of the passage was about 1M in height. We didn’t have to bum slide but we were crouched down, folding our body in about half. Our legs were screaming but the time we reached the first place we could stand. The next section has stairs and was vertical. Another long shaft with even less height than the first but not quite as long. At the next place of reasonable height we were not sure we would be able to stand ever again. The next stairs were in an elevator sized shaft and about 10M high. It was a short trip to the tomb from there. Frankly it was not worth the tremendous effort required to get there. Getting out was easier in my opinion. I could support myself on the handrails in a more horizontal position which did not stress my legs so much. The journey was not too bad and although our legs were spongy when we exited it was the next two days that were hell. Neither of us could walk up or down stairs without grimacing . It took us three days to recover. Ouch!
In the ancient Egyptian calendar had 10 days in a week, and three weeks in a month and 12 months in a year with five days of celebrations for a different god each day. There were three seasons – the flood, cultivating and harvesting.