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Published: September 23rd 2007
So I'm sitting here at a cafe using my friend's laptop to finish uploading all 700 pictures of my trip to Luxor and Aswan and everything inbetween! Let me start off my sayu]ing that Ramadan has kind of put a damper on our social life during the day - absolutely EVERYTHING is closed- internet cafes, restaurants (well, they may be open but they're not serving food!), grocery stores, etc. - It's pure luck that this cafe is open (it's only Christians here as they're not fasting). However, that being said it definitely brightens up the nightlife! After Iftar people are back to feeling like their normal, satisfied selves and its time to go out and be with friends, family and have a good time. Last night we went to a huge open air cafe that had a dj that played some fabulous arabic music as well as some good oldies from home. We had a blast and are going back tonight for the belly dancing competition - I've been practicing so who knows, I may just have to bring my finger chimes and shake my hips (I really have no shame when it come to dancing!). It is a little strange though since public dancing by women is illegal here so I'm not sure if the women who will dance tonight are just Chrisitians or if there are "allowed times and places" where this dancing can be performed. It really is amazing though to watch some of them and even a lot of the men are really good at it. No matter what goes in here in Egypt that I may not agree with or understand I absolutely love this country and can't wait to plan my next trip to come back!
My last Arabic class is today, tomorrow's the review and Tuesday is my exam. Wednesday morning my friend Ellen and I are flying to the Sinai to Sharm El Sheikh (huge resort town on the Red Sea) to meet up with some of my British friends for 5 days. Luckily the Sinai used to be part of Israel until either 1980 or 1982 so its very relaxed and conservative there and I'll actually be able to get a beer on the beach (oh yea, no drinking during Ramadan - all - the few that there are - liquor stores are closed so believe me, boy did we stock up before that!). Then next Sunday I'm taking a catamaran across to Jordan where I'll visit Petra and Amman. Then it's off to the Dead Sea and into Israel where I'll be meeting up with my best friend from Argentina (we were in the same class when I studied abroad there in high school). She's currently living in Israel studying Arabic so it will be absolutely fabulous to see her since I haven't seen her now for 2 years. Then it's off to Kenya where my friend Timmie already seems to have a million things planned for me to do and of course my aunt and mom are coming so it will be really nice to see them!
Okay so now on to the real reason why I wrote this blog - 3 weeks ago I traveled to Upper Egypt. My friends Christina and Jo are working at a children's orphanage, funded by the British government, called Sunshine so I went down to stay with them, see all the temples and other Pharonic sites. If you ever come to Egypt, obviously the pyramids are a must see but the temples in Luxor and Aswan and everything between the two cities are absolutely breath-takingly stunning! To finally see hieroglyphics and wall after wall of Egyptian artwork is so surreal. I really liked Luxor a lot, but the men there are definitely much more aggressive since it is a very touristy area so I had to wear a ring on my left hand my whole time there so that men would stop asking me - it doesn't really stop them all but you at least won't be hasseled for as long. I went to Sunshine International for two days - it's just soo sad there - there are so many children and all they want is to be held. It is illegal for Egyptian children to be adopted by foreigners so most of these children will be there until they are at least 18. There is one baby who is blind and since many people think of children/people who have mental or physical conditions then they are seen as evil spirits because they must have done something in a past life or someone in their family must have done something wrong in a past life and are paying the price for it now. So the Egyptian women who work there wouldn't even pick him up so I spent a great deal of my time there just holding him and talking to him. I spent a morning at Luxor Temple which is fabulous because the entrance is so grand with two giant statues and an obelisk. I could have spent hours there but unfortunately if I thought Cairo and Alex were hot then I can't even explain the heat in Luxor. One evening we went to Karnak Temple for the light show which was nice as well - they told the story of Karnak as we walked through the sites. We spent 3 days on a cruise boat, cruising down the Nile and stopping at all the Pharonic sites on the way. There was a swimming pool on the boat which was soo nice because as much as I love the ocean it is nice to be able to cool off and not be covered in salt! The boat was full of Spaniards which was nice because I was able to speak in Spanish to them but besides that we were the only English speaking people on the boat - there was an older, really nice couple from Scotland but their accent was soo thick I couldn't understand a word that they said so my British friends had to "translate" for me! Speaking of which, I have obviously been spending too much time with the Brits - there new students come every 4 weeks and the latest new group all thought I was from England - one English guy asked me where I live in London - I have been using British words and my intonation is WAYYY outta wack!
We took the cruise boat from Luxor down to Aswan. In Aswan we went to Abu Simbel which for me is the highlight of Ancient Egypt - wayyy better than anything I've seen. The only unfortunate thing is that in most of the temples you are not allowed to take pictures which I understand the reason for this I just would have loved to have taken pics inside of the temples at Abu Simbel because the paint was sooo vivid it looked as though they could have just been recently painted. It's amazing that the Ancient Egyptians lived here because had they lived in another climate hardly anything would have survived but with the sand and dry heat most of the sites are in really good condition for being 3,000-5,000 years old! But the statues at Abu Simbel at breathtaking and they're right on Lake Nasser which is the largest man made lake as it stretches down into Sudan - which you're quite close to the Sudanese border at Abu Simbel. After the Nile cruise we were back in Luxor and I went for a sunrise hot air balloon ride which was amazing - I got such good pictures of the sunrise and you could see all over the Nile Valley - and I was above all of the Pharonic sites in Luxor (Queen Hatsupset's temple, Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, etc.). It definitely wasn't as frightening as I had expected it to be but instead was very relaxing even though it was super hot with the flame above - I felt as though all my body hairs were being slowly singed off of me. That same day I went around to Queen Hatsupset's Temple, Valley of the King and Queens and another temple (though I can't for the life of me remember the name!). Valley of the King and Queens was nice but it was beyod deathly hot - older folks were just passing out (seriously!) left and right. This is where King Tut's tomb is and where is mummy lies - again, no pics allowed unfortunately, but it is cool to say that you got to see it! I went down into three tombs and every time I came out I was absolutely drenched in sweat but so was everyone else so I didn't feel as bad! All in all it was a really amazing trip and I'm glad that I took the time to go down and spend a bit of time down there so that I really got to see everthing.
So again, instead of trying to upload all the pics here as well just click or copy and paste these links to check out all of my pics from Luxor and Aswan - there are TONS but they're all definitely worth looking at when you have the time.
Love to all!
http://lclark.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2018228&l=2fae0&id=31601096 (Second Trip to the Pyramids- pics of me on a camel!)
http://lclark.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2018229&l=6699f&id=31601096 (Ben and I in Cairo at various mosques)
http://lclark.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2018230&l=ba479&id=31601096 (Luxor Temple)
http://lclark.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2018231&l=cfcf7&id=31601096 (Luxor Temple - Part 2)
http://lclark.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2018232&l=2ef67&id=31601096 (Luxor, Karnak Temple and Nile Cruise)
http://lclark.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2018252&l=2e98a&id=31601096 (Edfu Temple and Komombo Temple)
http://lclark.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2018253&l=9f48e&id=31601096 (Abu Simbel - DEF CHECK OUT!)
http://lclark.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2018254&l=2dfd9&id=31601096 (Balloon ride over Luxor)
http://lclark.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2018257&l=448d6&id=31601096 (Queen Hatshepsut and Valley of the Kings)
http://lclark.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2018260&l=2684c&id=31601096 (More Temples and Luxor)
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