Nettie in Egypt 2002


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The Old Cataract Hotel
My first encounter with the way things are handled in Egypt is when after a 26 hour trip I wanted a shower -- no hot water nor would the shower work so I picked up the phone to ask them to repair the shower but the phone didn't work so got a maid and she got someone to fix the phone and then someone came to sort of repair the shower so I had very lukewarm water dribbling out of the shower but managed. I have not been able to even start to transcribe my journal which was written at various times along the way.

What a time I had in Egypt!

I found a great cab driver who I hired for the day for about $11. He took me to a bazaar where I bought a bunch of jewelry which I paid too much for and then to a camel owner in the Giza near the pyramids. The first day I was in Egypt I rode a camel into the desert on one side of the wonderful pyramids -- made arrangements the next day to ride a white horse around the pyramids and see the Sphinx -- my lifetime dream. Got back from my camel ride at about 8:00 p.m. and took my cab driver, Mostafa, out to dinner and back to the hotel where he picked me up at 9:30 the next morning. I had the same guide Ahamed the next day who had planned the day for me on the horses. Just the two of us and what a thrill to see the Sphinx at long last with the three pyramids in the background on my white horse. Went inside the pyramids and to a new one just being excavated and did everything you can do -- then Ahamed took me to his home for lunch -- met his wife and saw his 2 month old baby and met his mother. Then we got on our horses and rode back to the camel and horse owner and had tea and they sold me some scented oil -- there is always someone to sell you something no matter what you do -- my driver was waiting for me and back to the hotel to meet the rest of the group.

How wonderful they all were -- Annie Waddington-Feather was our leader -- right out of Bridgett Jones diary. 32 years old and a character who loved to party and did everything with us. Two British couples -- in early 70's. Ginnie, studied with Iris Murdock when she was at Oxford -- her husband was a Greek scholar and their son a movie producer who happened to be in Egypt at the time filming for Channel 4 in London on the Egyptian deserts. We met him at the end of our trip in Luxor when he came on board the boat and had dinner with us. The other couple Lis and Geoff were great too. 3 young guys from London area -- all traveling alone and one American couple Sheri and Rick. He played professional guitar with blue grass group for 14 years and now installs computers -- they live in Eureka, CA amid the redwoods and can't wait to visit them there. Heard from Sheri today so must plan a trip to Eureka. I had my own room the whole trip.

When we were in Aswan we joined up with another Explore group of 12 and we all went to Abu Simbel together as well as shared the river boat up the Nile. The other group only had one American, a lady about my age from Los Angeles. All the rest were from Ireland or Australia. I met very few Americans traveling in Egypt.

Nettie outside Rockefeller Plaza in connection to New York October 2003 reunion
All the time I kept thinking thank God I never went on the other trip. I wouldn't have made it. This was about as rough as I could get and 4 days on a felucca (with no shower) and what if you had Pharoh's revenge -- I would not have made it and peeing behind a rock, sleeping in sleeping bags in the desert I would not have survived. Yea Gods, it was 100 to 110. I loved Siwa but had the same 4 x 4 towel for 3 days, unbelievable primitive room and food. Went to sleep to braying donkeys and the chanting of prayers which was nice. The most fun thing we did was the desert Safari with Landrovers. It was wonderful -- some of the sanddunes were as high as San Francisco hills. We flew up and down them and then ended up at twilight sitting on the edge of a dune watching the sun go down and the drivers served us tea they brewed by their trucks. Also seeing sand dollars and other fossilized sea creatures on the desert floor was awe inspiring.

This is a civilization that is so primitive I can't begin to tell you. I am afraid it will disappear in the next 10 years or so. They have an internet cafe now where you could send e-mails and they serve you tea and that is the beginning -- also coca cola in a bottle -- it tastes different you know -- The women are not allowed to go out without a family male escort. Sometimes you see them on a donkey cart and they wear a beautiful embroidered long scarf with only one eye peering out. You are not allowed to take pictures of the women and alcohol is not allowed in Siwa. I bought a book from the author on their culture and found it fascinating. We went into tombs and got to touch a real mummy -- EEK!!

On a camel around the Sphinx! Say hi to Tutankhamon!

See you in Egypt!

LUXOR - The city nestles in limestone cliffs, and became the center of the New Kingdom under Mentuhotep, who reunited Egypt and took it as his capital. Except for about two decades when Akhenateon moved the capital of his new religion to Amarna, Thebes remained the center of Egyptian life for centuries. The population of Thebes reached over a million people -- and it remains the most concentrated region of monuments and tombs in Egypt.
Luxor is something else -- merchants pulling you, chasing you down the streets, trying to sell you something at 8 times the price of its value. It is quite tiring after awhile -- but the beautiful Nile -- one morning I arose at 6:00 a.m. and they weren't serving breakfast at the hotel until 8:00 so I put on the Dolce Gabbana back pack (thought I'd throw that in) and off I went down the Nile with Calashes following me trying to pick me up and went to the Luxor temple -- only me and the guards -- it was beautiful and I spent about an hour roaming around taking pictures and walked back down the Nile to the hotel and had breakfast and met the group. There are so many funny, wonderful stories to relate. In Aswan I treated Annie (our guide) to vodka tonics at the Old Catarat Hotel (where they filmed part of Death on the Nile and where Agatha Christie got the idea and wrote part of the book).

We sat on the veranda -- all was missing was a Nubian prince to fan me with an ostrich fan. This was right before we boarded our riverboat to go up the Nile. It was a dream come true. However, after boarding the riverboat we found out as we were underway that there was no air-conditioning and true to Egyptian custom was never repaired -- Always something in Egypt not quite right but still bearable -- try 104 temp but we survived and the trip along the Nile was great stopped to see the temple for the crocodile God Sebok (Cleopatra's favorite god) and then to Edfu to see the temple of Horus (which was unbelievable). I am sure you know the story of Horus. Osirsis & Isis were married and Osirsis's horrible brother Seth killed Osirsis and cut up his body into 13 pieces and threw his penis to the crocodiles. Somehow Isis managed to gather all the pieces and put them together (sans penis)and somehow was able to conceive Horus (who had a falcon's head) and man's body. Anyway, Hours revenged his father's death and killed Seth who was sent forever to the underworld -- He is the devil image in Egypt.
These Egyptian Gods are marvelous aren't they.

After two days of sailing up the Nile we were back in Luxor and it was hot!! Scariest thing I did was take a donkey up the side of this mountain to get to the Valley of the Kings -- finally had to just look to one side and not down. We ended up leading the donkeys and then left them with the care takers and we scaled up the mountain and down in to the Valley of the Kings -- Yes, I was in Tutankamen's tomb!!! Have a picture of me entering the tomb. A thrill but the most fabulous tomb of all was Nerfetari's tomb (in the Valley of the Queens)(Ramses II favorite Nubian wife (but as our Nubian guide told us is this really true since he had 37 wives and 140 children). It was gorgeous -- all others paled in comparison so I think he loved her the most.

On and on I can go boring everyone to death but to have lived this adventure after longing for so many years it was wonderful. Alexandria was the most disappointing of our stops. Aswan was my favorite -- and sailing up the Nile on a river boat and seeing the palm trees, people and wonderful structures along the way. I kept thinking please let me remember everything so that is why I have to get going on my journal. Also I have many e-mails to send to my traveling companions. So many people asked me whether I was ever afraid -- I was never afraid but we did have military escorts with machine guns often leading our bus. Guards everywhere but to protect the tourists which is their main source of income. We were pulled over going back to Cairo on the bus as Kadafi's motorcade went by -- The only political stuff I got was about Bush -- and why was the U.S. supporting Israel. I told them I was from California and didn't vote for him. they compare Sharon to Hitler. Picked up all my pictures and now have them in two albums. Everyone is asking to see them and will try and get a couple put on internet and send along later. I never once felt threatened at all nor did I see anything out of the ordinary -- as far as the machine guns allegedly viewed by someone on the internet -- it is for protection not to kill you and I loved the Egyptian cab drivers.

Love, Nettie