Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Insights from a Foreign Land

I had a chance to finally put into perspective the most specific insights I found while on this trip through three continents and 18 days. Now that I am feeling better and my ears have opened enough for me to hear semi-normally again, and I have my hands on Dutch's thick black fur, I want to share these with you.

I wrote a long post and then decided to break it up into a series of three posts with an insight apiece.  That way I can keep you reading and entertained and spend some time with my sweet dog while he sleeps, hopefully pain free, beside me on the floor of my living room.  So here is what I have to offer you.
The first insight of course was that the Great Pyramids of the Giza Plain are smack dab in the center of the masses of 35 million bodies of humanity. It still startles me when I think of seeing the pyramids looming in the midst of all this.

It changed my thinking in terms of poor and that in America the ones we pump money, goods and services into because they are "poor" would be like kings in this place. The one thing I have found that I can agree with Obama is that Americans are lazy. I know several, who but for masses of government entitlements, they would be out working and supporting their families. Rethink time for us maybe? If not, we will become like Egypt, Greece, Italy.....see a sad economic trend?

For your viewing pleasure I have offered these amazing photos and stories of things we visited in the Cairo area.  It was a long two days off the safety of the ship.  We stayed in a Five Star hotel called the Mena House, which was the epitome of luxury in the center of squalor.  The Armed guards roamed the halls and the grounds.  Attached to the Mena House is the most expensive golf course in the world!  How's that for the haves and the have-nots rubbing elbows.

The Saladin Citadel in Cairo is a medieval Islamic fortification set upon the top of a limestone hill which offered the breeze and a view of the approaching marauders.  It was built around 1176 by Saladin, the local ruler.  He encircled the city with a single wall from bank to bank of the Nile. 

We climbed the walls of the Citadel to see the famous Alabaster Mosque built by Mohammad Ali built in the 1800's.  That is the picture just above to the right. The four story central dome is surrounded by four just slightly smaller domes which are surrounded by four slightly smaller domes and you can hear a person whisper from anywhere in the building!  The mosque is beautiful and is still being used.  The alabaster, which is a type of marble, was quarried from across the Nile or pillaged from other monuments like the pyramids.

Yes, the pyramids used to be covered in a marble encasing over the limestone blocks.  The top third of the pyramids were painted with a mixture of 40% silver and 60% gold to reflect the sun.  The pyramid has a flat top and one theory is that the capstone was looted because of the gold and marble.  So they put that piece of metal tripod on top to show where the top would have been. 

On the Saqqara Plain is the Step Pyramid of Djoser (second king of the 3rd Dynasty) was built in the 27th Century BC.  There are 6 mastabas of decreasing size and is believed to be one of the oldest structures in Egypt surviving.  It is considered to be a prototype for the huge pyramids.  The reason it was built like this is that Imhoptep miscalculated the measurements and had to adjust.  So he made it look like he meant it to be that way.

It is encompassed in a mortuary complex that contains several other tombs and we did get to go inside of those.  The colors on the walls are bright and clear, untarnished by weather or light.  The entrance to the complex is the Roofed Colonnade.  The columns are not free standing because of the attributes of shifting sands, but are attached by masonry projections to form small chambers for each of the provinces of Egypt.

The huge statue of Ramses II, or Ozymandias to the Greeks, took the throne of Egypt at age 19 in 1279 BC.  He is considered the greatest and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire.  His Queen was Nefertari and he had a number of consorts who together gave him over 80 children.  He died at age 90 and had ruled Egypt for 66 years and two months.  Incredible back then, you don't see too many 90 year olds today!

The sunsets all though the trip were spectacular.  I don't think I had a day where I didn't capture the most beautiful sight that even Egyptians in the 27th Century BC didn't perhaps pause and look at themselves.

And of course we were treated to belly dancing and a Whirling Dervish on the cruise down the Nile.  The Whirling Dervish spun for at least 30 minutes, never fell over and was a man.



  1. Gorgeous pictures! I think you are so right, and even though we all see commercials showing us the poor in other countries, most Americans don't really get it.


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