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6/8: Day Thirteen, Esna to Luxor
So, we woke up at 5am in order to take a bus into Luxor and get there before it was completely sweltering (although it's completely sweltering at around 7 am, so I don't know who we were fooling), and got all packed, ate breakfast, and waited in the lobby for the bus to show up. Paul came up to us and asked us to settle our hotel bill, as the guy at reception (the same one we paid the night before) said we didn't. Well, sheesh, he didn't give us a receipt, but we could recite the exact amount, and Paul believed us. So, thinking the fiasco was over, we went outside. While we were waiting for the bus to be loaded, the guy went up to Amadeus, to try to get HIM to get us to pay. Um, no. We told Amadeus that the guy had just talked to Paul and everything was supposed to be cool. So, he goes inside. And then comes outside a third time to argue the damn bill. The guy wanted to know who we payed, and dragged some other guy out with him. He looked shocked when Caroline said, "No, we payed YOU." So he stood there for 10 minutes, looking pissy, and walked back inside.
Um, okay then. We drove to the Collosi of Memnon, and at this point, Alison was sick (if you think this is getting tiresome in the journal, imagine living it. Argh), so Caroline took pics of the statues, which are all that's left of this big mortuary temple built to (and in the likeness of) Amenhotep. They are in bad condition, though, but with that comes a cool story. They broke in a big earthquake, and as a result, would "sing" when the sun shone on them, which made them a point of pilgrimage for many Greco-Romans. Then a stupid Greek dude repaired them and they stopped. (History According To Alison)
The Collosi of Memnon
We then went to the Valley of the Nobles, to look at the tomb of Ramoses, a financial officer from the time of Nefretiti (in case you're confused: Nefreteri: 1200 BCE, was married to Ramses II; Nefretiti: 1400 BCE, married to Amenhotep). After touring about the tomb for a bit (I could sit her and write about art but I'll save that for the scans), and then we headed to an alabaster shop.
The Valley of the Nobles (and some houses nearby).
Some goats in the Valley, which I completely failed to notice but which Caroline saw. This makes me feel unobservant.
Caroline, Debbie, and Paul stop in the shade to get some drinks.
At this point, I considered myself a pretty damn good barterer, at least when I was really trying. (Sometimes I just didn't care.) I was determined to get these guys down to a reasonable price on an alabaster elephant, for which they were charging absolutely too much money -- I would have expected it to go for 7-10 Egyptian pounds, and they were trying to get me to pay 70. Hello! You people are high! I had a nice little talk with one of the salesguys, though, who said he loved my eyes (does that line really work?), and I told him I'd be more than happy to take him as a husband, if he'd move to America and park his camels in my garage. He had to promise, of course, not to fight with my other husbands. That turned the guy off real quick. In the end, I bought a scarab paperweight made of basalt for 5 pounds, and we were off to the Valley of the Kings.
First, though, an insane group of people went on a hike. Caroline was one of them. They were on crack. Alison sat on the bus and wrote.
A view from Caroline's hike. Ooh.
Keith, the Alison stand-in, and Caroline, at the top of hikey hill.
Meanwhile, back at the bus, Alison takes a pic of the temple where a huge massacre of tourists took place.
At the alabaster shop, a few of the guys working there show us the difference between handmade and machine-made pots.
Paul, Alison, Caroline, and a whole wall of alabaster stuff. They even have light-up pyramids! How neat! (cough cough)
Alison, Caroline, and the kids of the shop workers; check out the pens in their hand that we gave them. Aww.
So, we got to the Valley of the Kings, and took a little Disneyland-esque train down the hill, because the motor noises cause too much destruction to the ruins. (Wow, they suddenly are caring about the condition of the ruins?) Did I mention that it was hot? IT WAS HOT! I was recalling Karnak with vivid flashbacks. Bleh. The first tomb we saw was Mernerptah, the 14th son of Ramses II, and his tomb was probably the coolest of all we saw, because the sarcophagus was still inside, and the descent was really steep. The guard was bribable, so we took pics with flash (usually a no-no: the one main thing I heard lots of was "NO FLASH!" Well, that and "baksheesh?"). The inside of the tomb was really neat, especially the staircase, which was designed to let the sarcophagus down -- but not up again, because it was too steep.
The outside of King Tut's tomb.
The Valley of the Kings.
An example of the kind of guard you see all over the sites... check out that gun! And, Shayne showing us how hot it is.
Alison and Caroline being sweaty.
From the back: Dave, Murray, Shaar, Jessica, and K, unable to do more than smile in the oppressive 120+ degrees.
The top level of the sarcophagus from Mernerptah's tomb.
The staircase down (halfway there already...)
The second level of the sarcophagus.
The wall of the bottom of the tomb.
Next tomb was Ramses III, the son of Mernerptah. (They had about 5 names in Egypt, apparently. Ha ha ha ha, Alison tries to be funny... and fails.) This one was sorta cool because Ramses had to change the path of the tomb, because he accidentally dug into the tomb of his grandfather (they were all built sorta secretly, so it was hard to know where they were). He saw that as a bad omen (duh), so he stopped building the tomb and built another, but abandoned that one as well. The third tomb was our choice, so we went to Ramses IX. It was cool, but at this point, they all started looking the same. (I honestly never thought that I would say that about anything, but the inside of tombs are pretty damn similar.) And, it was HOTTER THAN HELL in those things. I wanted a soda.
I now write a poem of lament:
Thank you. <bow>
Art from Ramses III's tomb.
The little Disneyland trains they used to take us down into and back from the Valley; apparently, these aren't as rumbly as the buses, so they don't cause as much damage.
A little kitty attacking my bag.
We drove to our hotel in Luxor, and Caroline and I beelined to an Internet cafe, where the connection dropped right in the middle (I was so excited to get to send an email, though, that I didn't get annoyed but instead taught the guy how to use his really weird telnet software...), and then we went to McDonald's for lunch. Normally, I would balk at eating at McDonald's in a foreign country, but when your tour "escort" tells you that it's the only safe thing to eat, you listen. So, I had a BigMac deal. And I looked at the papyrus they were selling, with a pic of Nefretiti/Tut/pyramid on it with McDonald's written in arabic. Niiiiice.
Then it was camel ride time! We took a boat across the water and hopped out, and then met our "camel boys." Mine was called Yassof. He was the only mute camel boy of the whole group, so I'd like to know what perverted god thought that it would be funny to put me, Ms. Talkative, with the only kid who wouldn't talk. He had three sentences: "Are you happy?" "That is the canal, and that is sugarcane." "Do you go to school?" Instead, I talked to Caroline's camel boy and the camel boy behind me. And I don't think that my camel's name really was Bob Marley, no matter how many times he told me that. Nope. I don't believe it, no way, no how.
Alison, Brenda, Ash, and Caroline on the way to camel riding.
The camels, from a distance.
Alison on a camel!
Caroline on a camel!
Yassof, the camel boy.
Paul on a donkey!
The mud bricks used to build houses in Egypt.
Caroline on a camel! Again!
Alison and Yassof. Or was is Yaccov? I dunno, the kid didn't talk.
Caroline and her camel MAN.
Caroline, Sophie the baby donkey, and Alison.
Back to the boat, we ran to the hotel so I could take a shower and see the Temple of Luxor. At this point, not many people wanted to see any more temples, so only about 15 of us walked over. The day was finally cooling off, so this was probably the most enjoyable temple experience; it wasn't so bright, it wasn't crowded at all, and everyone was attentive. This was another temple built to Ramses II -- he actually went so far as to steal statues from other temples and carve his name into them, so there could be a statue between every two columns -- but the coolest thing was the mosque built into it. When it was covered by Nile mud, the floor was much higher, and they actually built a mosque INTO the temple, which now looks like it's on the second level. There are also Christian frescoes on one wall! It was really cool. Caroline didn't go, though, so I guess she was only one outing up on me :)
Luxor temple. Those columns are supposed to be bamboo reeds.
The entrance to Luxor temple.
Another view from the entrance.
Jenny, Randy, and Tracey.
I call this photo "The Pensive Group"; it really should be called "The Group Of People Who Didn't Know I Was Taking A Picture of Them."
The mosque built into the second level of the temple.
A carving in the temple.
Columns in the temple.
A departing view...
I could go off on a little personal tangent here, but I think I'll save that for later. :)
We went back to the hotel, and changed into dinner clothes, and then we all ate at this Egyptian Italian restaurant in the hotel. Caroline and I split a pizza -- which had no crust and was weird, considering the fact that it was margherita without basil and with green peppers. It was Bill's birthday, so we sang for him, had cake, and then we went to McDonald's to have soft-serve cones. After that, it was off to sleep. Zzzzzz
Mmm, Egyptian beer.
Happy bday to Bill!