The Big E

Trip Start Jan 20, 2010
1
10
40
Trip End May 15, 2010


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Flag of Egypt  ,
Friday, February 19, 2010

The flight from Cyprus to Egypt was a little over an hour. After settling in in the hostel, and a quick catnap, we were ready to go. In my group I was with Paige and Anna (my roommates), Randi and Andi (who live across the hall), Heather, Taylor and Jessica. Every morning the hostel served us three pieces of bread, jam, cheese and tea for breakfast. We met up with Aya who is Uncle Max's business partner’s daughter; she joined up with us for the whole weekend. Along with our driver and tour guide, we started off by going to King Djoser’s pyramid. We saw the ruins of the pyramid and melted in the hot sun. Next we went to Memphis and learned how they found the Rosetta stone in Rosetta city. Up until they found the stone, explorers thought the ancient Egyptian’s hieroglyphics were just drawings, but now they were able to read the hieroglyphics and learn a lot about the day-to-day life. We than stopped for lunch in this village where we had a buffet of traditional Egyptian foods while looking into a courtyard filled with camels, dogs, babies and a trampoline. Here we discovered that most restrooms in Egypt do NOT carry toilet paper. Instead, poor Egyptian women take the toilet paper out of the stalls and charge visitors for it, and if you do not pay they will bang down the stall door and yell at you until you give in. While you do not have to pay by governmental law to use a restroom, these women will do everything in their power to make you think you need to pay (good thing we all carried a roll of TP with us at all times!) We than went to a papyrus museum and were given a demonstration of how the ancient Egyptians made the papyrus. Papyrus was the first documented paper, it is made from a sacred plant/reed that when pressed together that does not fade or color of the years. Egyptians used this to document the lives of the royal family so the Ka or spirit would be able to remember their previous life by depicting scenes from everyday life and mixing it with hieroglyphics. After the papyrus museum we went to perfume store where we sampled various flower fragrances such as lotus flower, lavender, and mint and learned how they help the body. For example, if you take a cup of hot water and add a few drops of mint and breath in, it helps to open up your lungs (just like vicks vapor rub without the added chemicals). We also smelled the fragrance used by King Tut Ankh Amoun, and Nefertity. We also smelled a perfume called the Secret of the Desert, which women used to attack men back in the day. Finally we learned about sandalwood, a goo that when applied after the shower will make your skin very soft. After the perfume shop we went on a sunset camel ride in the desert and saw the sunset over the great pyramid of Giza. We each rode camels out into the desert for a little over 45 minutes than stopped and took pictures and rode back in. It was very cool to see the sunset over the pyramids. We did this tour with everyone who was staying in our hostel (about 25 kids). Riding the camel was a lot of fun but very bumpy. For the rest of my trip my tailbone hurt from being bounced up and down for almost two hours. On our way back toward the stable, we heard the call to warship on the loud speaker that is projected all over the city, as well as the prayer that followed it. Aya, who speaks Arabic, was able to translate for us what was being said. Also while we were going back toward the stables, many young boys (and a few girls) who were out riding horses were coming back into the stables and the camels started running/jogging alongside the horses, which was a little scary at first but fun! After leaving our new friends the camels, we went to see the light show at the pyramids. For everyone in my tour group, it was the first time they saw the pyramids, even though it was getting dark out. The light show illustrated, on the pyramids and sphinx, the history of Egypt since the beginning of time. While it was neat how they light everything up, it was not at all what I was expecting and we had already listened to the history to Egypt from our tour guide earlier in the day not to mention I learned about it in my art history class right before I left. After the light show ended we went to a restaurant for dinner and had soup, pita bread with humus, spicy fish, sausage kabob, chicken and one other type of meat, followed by dessert which was a cross between rice pudding and vanilla yogurt. After getting back safe and sound to the hostel the trouble began. I noticed that I had gotten a ton of bug bites and figured they were just from being outside at sunset. However the bug bites spread to the size of half dollars and were red. The next morning I woke up and had them all over my face and legs. During the remainder of the trip each day I would get more and more to the point that it looked like I had the chicken pox all over my face and body. 
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