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Posts Tagged ‘#Abu Simbel’

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

~

Early the next morning we were taken to the Nile where we boarded our vessel for the cruise part of the trip. Once we had all been ensconced in our own cabins we wandered down for lunch. Fortunately they were only a few ways to get there so getting lost wasn’t too much of a problem.

The dining room was laid out with a buffet and waiters to keep everything replenished and also attend to our tea, coffee or fresh orange juice. I was reveling in the pleasure of being waited on. As a full-time wife (recently divorced) and mother (never ends) it was a real joy having someone to bring me whatever I needed.  Of course, one of the simple things which I never gave a thought to actually caused me a little problem.

I smile! I smile a lot when I am happy and when I am appreciative of something another person is doing for me. Simple things like a fresh juice and a hot coffee and I smiled my thanks to the waiter. I smiled my gratitude and never gave it another thought. Mel and I were given superb attention and service at lunch. When we asked one of the waiters coming out of the kitchen if a dish was being replenished and they said no, we must have looked disappointed. Before we had time to move around the buffet we were ushered quietly back to the other side of the buffet and there was a small bowl of the dish we asked after. Service! Impeccable and smiling service, yes, I was appreciative of being waited on.

Each day followed the same pattern. We would all be up early and meet in the dining room. Breakfast and we would head off on a bus to a pyramid, or the Valley of the Kings, or simply cruise the Nile, go to the Aswan Dam and Nefertiti Perfumery, or catch the plane to Abu Simbel. It was a mixture of relaxed sailing on a busy river, and excursions to the pyramids and temples. The banks were more interesting and the history was on land not in the river.

But there were also some hilarious moments. I smiled. Mel and I both smiled, we were polite to the crew and waiters and talked to them. We thanked them for their service. Quite normal I believed. However, I quickly noticed something very amusing. After my accidents and the intervening period I had quite a bit of pain after each excursion. The mornings were difficult to get going and we rarely made it into the dining room first. Not far behind the first to enter, but rarely the first.

However, as soon as we arrived we had two waiters almost shadowing us.  As soon as we chose our seats we had a glass of fresh orange juice and the hot pot of fresh coffee being offered to us. It made no difference that someone else was already in the room, sitting and peremptorily holding coffee cup in the air to be filled. Everyone was ignored until we were served. Okay, in my opinion they were a tad surly and if they had to wait, so be it. Yet it didn’t end there. Throughout the meal our glasses and cups were refilled before we needed to look around for a waiter.  They would walk past our fellow diners and fill our glasses and cups first. Often it might empty the jug or pot and they would sail away into the kitchen. The same thing happened with the buffet, we were shadowed and if something looked ‘empty’ they would offer to get a fresh dish. We smiled and had excellent service at every meal.

It was hot and I was concerned about being sunburnt but somehow I managed to avoid that misery. We also avoided all the other miseries of travel we had been warned about. My medical supplies came home intact.

We had an enthralling day in the Valley of the Kings. Heat and sand and hundreds of people, but it was worth it. There was a special charge if you wanted to see the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Heavens – we were right there, we had to see it.  Lining up with the throng was an introduction to the human miasma we would get to know more intimately. The entrance to the tomb was down a steep and low walkway. In fact it was accessible only if you duck walked the entire way down to the burial room and back up to the surface. I was going to do it and it didn’t matter if it was difficult. The ‘tunnel’ was divided in two by a rope. One way down and one way back out. No stopping and no changing lanes. Overhead lights, (thank heavens for electricity), made sure we could see the snaking line of human ducks waddling down and out of the tomb.

The heat rose as we moved in and the air seemed very thin. We could hear the fans blowing air through the tunnel and I couldn’t help but wonder how they had managed this before electricity. One of our group, a somewhat large person, insisted on going down. He couldn’t see his feet when standing and was told he had to remain squatting for at least fifteen minutes down and then back, but insisted on going in. Approximately half way down we heard a commotion behind us. (Yes we selfishly made sure we were well ahead of him.) Our rotund friend couldn’t breathe, overheated and could no longer duck walk. We were told it took quite a bit of engineering to get the lines of people stopped and manoeuvre him from one side to the other and get him out. Everything has been stripped out of the tomb and it was a little disappointing but I made it into the tomb and out, under my own steam Yes! I was thrilled.

Another excursion took us to a pyramid where the external walks were undergoing renovation and preservation work. As we walked behind one wall we saw to our right some of the best reliefs in the complex. The ground was a little rough, okay, it was very uneven, and there was a small rope alongside the path, to warn people of the uneven surface. ( I wish I could draw an angelic face here). As we walked across to get our photos an armed ‘soldier’ dressed in black, big gun, came hurrying towards us. We were not supposed to be there. Smiling once more, we explained we only wanted to get some pictures. Smiling all the while, he relented and stood guard for us to get our pictures. How we were supposed to steal the cartouches is beyond me.  As we were moving back to the path some of our group appeared. Attempting to cross the rope our guard lifted his rifle. No admittance.

Of course as soon as Ayman, our guide, made an appearance he was told that we had been arrested and escorted away from the temple. Not bad, kidnapped by camel drivers and arrested by a guard. We were then admonished by members of our group for encouraging the locals and the waiters. It simply wasn’t right, smiling at them, making eye contact, it set a bad precedent. It would be misunderstood that we were leading them on!  Yes, we received our fair share of proposals or propositions but nothing we were unable to handle or deflect. Sorry, it sounds like sour grapes and cold coffee.

The flight to Abu Simbel was an education. I didn’t think aeroplanes like that could get in the air. Shake, rattle, clank and hold onto your hats. But the sights made it worthwhile. A group photo in front of the temple signaled the last of our land trip in Cairo. All that was left was the return to Cairo after Egyptian dancers in the lounge that night. Mel and I both shimmied on stage!

The next morning I wondered why I had done it but, it was a great way to end the trip. The next day we traveled back to the Cairo Marriott again for one night. Our final stop at the Papyrus Place. Too many choices but I had a wonderful time. After that it was on to Jordan.

Egypt was so full of adventure and it lived up to more than I anticipated. The history and majesty took my breath away and I wished my mother had been able to see it, as it was one of her loves. I managed to get into a little unexpected drama, innocently, but began to realise that I was simply a small part of a larger whole.  My search was beginning to put its pieces together and I had glimpses of who and what it might reveal.

~

Next week…..Jordan

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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