Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 44: Luxor

Although there was a rough start in the morning, it ended up being an amazing day.  I previously mentioned our absurdly early morning so let me be more specific: a 3:15am wake-up call.  My internal clock is pretty screwed up from the past 40 days of time weirdness but 3 hours of sleep is always kinda tough.  I was a lucky one; my parents unfortunately got no sleep.  In India it's known as Montezuma's Revenge and in Egypt as the "mummy's tummy."  As careful as they both were, my mom and dad had a bout with extreme nausea and some GI issues all night and into the morning (they weren't alone; a few other parents had a similar problem).  I felt horrible for them; it's not only hard to see loved ones not feeling well but trying to encourage them to keep moving for our 6:00am flight was difficult.  We immediately started the Bismuth (Peto-Bismul, a miracle preventative/treatment drug for SASers) and luckily one of the staff nurses was also on our trip.  She happened to have a med kit on her and was graciously able to spare some Zofran and offer advice.  Both were miserable though the flight (probably a lot due to anxiety and lack of sleep also) but by the time we landed and got moving there was much improvement.  They got through most the day progressively feeling better but neither felt 100%.  I'm very happy to report here on the morning of day 3 that after a good night's rest, plenty of Bismuth and lots of hydration, both are feeling great and ready to conquer the rest of the trip.  

Following an uneventful flight on EgyptAir and arrival at the Luxor Airport we made our way to the famed Valley of the Kings.  This desert valley contains over 60 amazing tombs from the Pharaonic period.  We visited four: Tutankhamun, Ramses I, Ramses III, and Ramses IX.  Tutankhamun's tomb was small but cool because of the famous story of Howard Carter's discovery and it still contains the actual mummy.  The other three tombs had a great deal of original hieroglyphics, carvings and paintings on the walls (it's worth repeating: 3000 years old!).  The colors are clear but faded and you can easily image how vibrant and amazing the tombs were originally.  It's also quite interesting to follow the common themes (images) present in all the tombs.  The hot and stuffy treks under the valley floor were well worth it.  We then traveled a short distance to the temple of Queen Hatshepsut (hat-cheap-suit, or "chicken soup" as our guide claims the locals say), Ancient Egypt's only female pharaoh.  There are a number of cool paintings on the inner temple walls.  The top level some interesting statues of "her."  It kind of seemed a little counterproductive to represent her as male, but whatever works.  From the top there was a great view of the West Bank.  After a quick stop to see the Colossi of Memnon (two giant "singing statues") built during Alexander's occupation, we made our way to the hotel for lunch and much needed rest.

After a nice afternoon nap at the hotel we set out again for the Temples.  The Karnak Temple is simply breathtaking and worth the flight to Luxor itself.  The largest temple in the world, it was built over a period of 1600 years.  Obviously the building process was under the direction of hundreds of kings and therefore you can see an electric mix of statues all dedicated to the god of Thebes, Amun-Ra.  The majority are from Ramses Ii who plastered his name over most of the temple.  Two of the more famous obelisks are found inside and the Hypostyle Hall contains a bunch of enormous columns that once supported an immense roof.  The entire place was colored at one time (there is still faded color present on some areas) and would have been a magnificent sight in it's day.  The Karnak was actually connected to our next stop, the Luxor Temple, by a sting of over 1000 small Sphinx statues in ancient times.  The Luxor Temple was also an amazing place to walk around.  After moving past the exterior obelisk we saw some of the really intense and beautiful statues in the temple.  Many are damaged from years of being built on top of and it's an interesting site to still find a mosque layered on top of a portion of the temple.  After seeing some of the vivid carvings inside we bussed back to the hotel for dinner.

Everybody retired early in the evening for much needed rest.  I attempted to start showing some pictures of the early part of the voyage to my parents but all of us were too tired to get very far.  We got a great night's sleep for the next day's journey to Aswan.

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