Egypt is imprinted in our minds and in our hearts forever.
by Ray and Ida Diaz, February
Also see Ida's
book: Angels Working in Our
Lives and website: http://www.idadiaz.org/
When traveling in Cairo and around it, the three majestic Pyramids are visible from everywhere. It is incredible how they convey a feeling of serenity, peace and longevity. They have certainly been around for a long time. The message we got from the Sphynx was that "I have endured and I will continue to endure for a very long time to come."
This feeling of serenity and peace was felt everywhere. Even Cairo traffic felt like organized chaos. There seem to be no rules for driving, no red lights observed, no lanes. However, accidents are rare and there is NO roadrage!! People seem to accommodate each other. Live and let Live!
The ancient blends in with the modern. The small donkeys are carrying their loads of carrots, grass or people cheerfully, trotting happily along in the midst of traffic. Horse drawn buggies are slowly moving along. Women in their long dresses and scarves, carrying their purchases on their
heads, are all blending in with cars, buses and blue and white taxis.
Children are everywhere. We loved the smiling children. We met many schoolchildren on their excursion to the Temples and in the Cairo Museum. They are so friendly and proudly speak their English sentences. They would come up to us everywhere, smiling: "Hello, What is your name? I am Mohamed." We can still see their dark, beautiful, soulful smiling eyes, looking into our eyes to find our heart as they would repeat our names. We gave pens to many of the children, and all of them were always smiling and happy to see us, and talk to us. They are very peaceful and respectful, which impressed us. In one of the pyramids, a group of about ten young men passed by us laughing and joking among themselves. Our guide, Mohamed, corrected them with a sharp tongue. They became very docile, respectful and began to behave as expected. I thought, regretfully, what might happen if somebody would correct children or young men in the same manner in our society.......
Egyptians love tourists. When we arrived everyone said: "Welcome home." Also, wherever our bus would pass by, women and children would
wave. What impressed us also was: NO stealing. Having lived in foreign countries and having traveled extensively abroad, being used to people stealing, it was refreshing not to have to watch your wallet every minute, and be able to carry your money freely on you. Of course some merchants do lie very convincingly about the quality of their merchandise and quote exorbitant prices to tourists, but come down in price quickly if they have no takers. I had merchants come down from 80 pounds to 25 in ten seconds, when we started to walk away. If they feel that a tourist is angered or upset, they immediately want to make peace. There are tourist police checking the merchants. In some occasions, around the pyramids, when young boys would become overbearing offering their merchandise, the tourist police would step in and chase them away.
Tourism being a very important part of the Egyptian economy, the government does not want to take any chances and ensures the safety of tourists as much as possible. Around Cairo, especially to the bazaar, we had our own plain clothesman police escort with a submachine gun under his jacket. He was very friendly, polite and always smiling. However, he took his duty seriously. Sometimes he looked stressed out, when our group broke up and he could not keep track of everybody. The poor man had to walk through the desert with us, from the Red Pyramid to the Bent Pyramid, in the glaring sun, wearing suit, white shirt and tie, until Ruth, our tour guide, feeling sorry for him, bought him an Arabian Head Dress which he gratefully accepted and donned.
As we traveled to The Abydos Temple where the fundamentalists reside, all buses traveled in a convoy, with a military escort, there and back, in addition to our special police guard. However, in spite of all this, we felt secure and safe at all times.
We visited a few small villages, and Temples, where tourists normally do not visit. Our guide knew the Elders, and we were welcome.
Their concept of cleanliness is quite different from ours. In the countryside, some of the canals were littered with garbage, and outside of an ancient village we visited, the desert was littered with plastic bags. We all felt like taking a big bag and picking up all these plastic bags. During the sand storm we experienced, the air was full of plastic bags, flying further and further into the desert.
The boat ride up the Nile from Luxor to Aswan was so relaxing and beautiful. It seemed like ancient times, people in their ancient garbs working in the fields with old plows, helped by water buffaloes and donkeys. The sandy West Bank in the distance offers a beige backdrop. The Nile was wider than we had imagined. Without the Nile there would be no Egypt. Irrigation is an important part of farming. The land is so fertile that vegetables and flowers are the biggest I have ever seen, giant carrots and cabbages (14 inches in diameter). We also saw many camels, in fact, if you are in the mood you can rent a camel, horse or donkey to travel around.
We had never seen so many palm trees. There were forests of beautiful palm trees.
Aswan is paradise, an abundance of beautiful colorful flowers. Everything is relaxed. At sunset, the view from the balcony of our
hotel was breathtaking. Feluccas crossing the Nile to Philae to reach the temple of Isis, as we did, palm trees, flowers, lights of the city, the bend of the Nile. Everything was so picturesque. We could have stayed there longer.
We also visited a sight being excavated and got to see hieroglyphics and reliefs seen for the first time in probably 4000 years. We have a close up video of an ancient painted artifact, which we found among the rubble.
Our fond memories of this ancient civilization will live in our memory for ever. If you ever get a chance, don't miss the opportunity to visit this ancient land where Western Civilization began.
We were also blessed with an exceptional tour guide, Ruth Shilling, and Mohamed our Egyptologist, formerly a curator of the Cairo Museum, and former Inspector of the Giza Plateau, whose wealth of knowledge he freely and willingly shared with us, and whose radiant smile was contagious.
We are attaching picture of our group. Ida is third from the right and Ray is fourth right behind her. The grand Pyramid and lesser one, as well as the Sphinx are in the background. We visited a great many other sites, some of which most tourists do not get to see. If you would like details on any other site in Egypt, let us know.
Love & Light
Ray & Ida Diaz, firstname.lastname@example.org