I just got back from pole-walking around the lake at Radio Springs, and that’s always refreshing. There was a large snapping turtle crossing the path, and all of the dogs and those in tow seemed happy.

I also just got back from a two week trip to Egypt called the Royal Tour of Egypt, sponsored by Dr. Zahi Hawass, their chief archaeologist. Valo and I were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary and we saw many amazing places. We landed at Cairo airport and stayed at the Marriott Mena House next to the great pyramids in Giza. Thanks to Dr. Hawass, we were allowed to enter the Great Pyramid of Cheops (Kufu) and crawl down some 280 feet into the King’s Chamber and Queen’s Chamber. We were also granted access to the area between the paws of the Sphinx (normally not available to tourists) and a tour of the Luxor Temple before opening hours.

We flew from Cairo to Luxor where we boarded a luxurious cruise ship for a 7-day trip south on the Nile River, stopping at various sites such as Karnak, Valley of the Kings (saw King Tut’s tomb), Edfu, Kom Ombo, Aswan, Abu Simbel, the Aswan Dam, and a  Nubian village and home The family had three crocodiles in their house, which was apparently good luck for them – when one gets too big, they throw it in the Nile and grab another baby one.    Later we stopped at the Museum of Mummified Crocodiles, Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, and the home of former president Anwar Sadat.

We acquired, of course, a number of souvenirs and took a zillion photos, some of which I will post on Facebook. If you go to Archaeological Paths Royal Tour of Egypt online, you will see the particulars of the trip and even some videos if you wish. You will see glowing testimonials of the tour by a few participants.

There is another side of the trip that they won’t tell you,  but you should know about if you are thinking about going. You know it takes a LONG TIME to get there! We took jaunts on eight different airliners during the trip. We were awakened at 3 am a couple of times to go to a site, and one jaunt involved six hours on the bus! That’s not all… although the road surfaces were quite good, there were metallic strips embedded in the highway designed to shake apart the suspension of the bus and its occupants. There would be groups of 4 or 5 of these strips, and 4 consecutive groups of them about every half mile or so, causing an otherwise tolerable trip to be extremely irritating. Their purpose? Apparently to keep drivers from drifting off to sleep, as there were usually no obstacles or other apparent reasons for them.

At every stop you can expect swarms of local purveyors of Egyptian goods that they offer for sale, at inflated prices. We were told to offer about one fourth of what they asked for, and they were persistent! Not only that, but at every WC (toilet) there would be an individual offering a few sheets of toilet paper to dry your hands on and then expecting a tip of either one dollar U.S. or an Egyptian five pound note (worth about 25 cents).

There was a coup in Egypt in 2011 when the military took over the country from the Muslim Brotherhood. It is essentially a military dictatorship. People are either rich or dirt poor, mostly the latter. They rely hugely on the monetary boost provided by tourism.

Then there were the camels… the tour offered several optional trips to see particular tombs, or to take a hot air balloon flight over Luxor, or to pay $995 apiece to go see the huge new Egyptian Museum which is not even open yet. Our only optional trip was a camel caravan over the Arabian Desert. Typically, those who went along said they had crossed that one off their bucket list and they would never do it again! I agree. My camel would swing side to side with each step. There is a little round protrusion between your legs that is all you have to hold on to (no saddle)  and it was all I could do to keep from being ejected off onto sand or rocks. (one of our group exclaimed on the return portion of the caravan, “I’m sure glad I don’t need my testicles any more!”)

We did have very thorough massages on the ship while cruising along the Nile, but nothing you can’t get right here in Nevada. (well, the river is missing)

We are glad to be home and realize once more how very blessed we are to live in America. But, if there is ever a next time, it’s Hawaii!

Blessings,

Dr. J

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