View from our room at the Meridian Pyramids hotel in Gizeh, Egypt
Our apologies to those of you who are waiting for something to appear on our blog. My estimations were not quite right. First of all, I overestimated how much internet service would be available to me in Egypt. Then I underestimated how much time would be taken from our schedule to make use of the internet service that WAS available to us. Let me illustrate: on Friday morning those of us who signed up to climb up Mt. Sinai were awakened with a call to get up at 12:30 AM to get dressed and go to obtain our camels. Once we got that taken care of we started our climb which would take about two hours and a half to arrive at the spot where we could no longer use a camel to climb but had to climb by foot up the 700 steps that reached the top. That was another two hours. Then at sunrise (approximately 6:00 AM) we began our descent by foot. We finally reached the base of Mt. Sinai where we joined up with the rest of the tour group who slept in and opted instead for a tour of the famous monastery at 8:00 AM. We did not get back to our hotel until 9:30 AM and our bus was departing at 10:00 AM for the next stop. So we had to take a shower, pack and forego breakfast within a half hour time span. When you sign up to do everything, as both of us did, you simply don’t have time to do normal things, like eat and sleep.
So now that we have arrived in Jordan let me go back and recap some of our events that we intended to put in earlier.
Anyway you slice it, it takes about 15 hours of flying time to reach Cairo, Egypt. And the way we sliced it was by flying 10 hours to London (non-stop on British Air) and then after a five hour layover, to fly five more hours into Cairo. This has been chosen as the starting point of our two week Holy Land Tour. Not a bad idea, since it is the oldest continuously existing civilization in the world. And, since it finds itself continuously intersecting the history of the Chosen People in Genesis and Exodus, it is a natural place for us to begin our journey in this blog.
By American standards Cairo, Egypt is chaotic. Imagine trying to drive in a city of 22 million people with almost no traffic signal lights, at least in Old Cairo, which is where our hotel is located. I have driven rental cars in most European cities but this is one place where I would never think of doing so. So why do we come here? Well, how can you explore the lands of the Bible and leave out such an important place as this?
Here are located the oldest man-made structures still remaining on earth. Among those are the pyramids. We have all read about and seen pictures of the pyramids and wondered how anyone could build something so complicated (and expensive). To see them up close is a real thrill (see enclosed pictures). Once we finally got a few hours of sleep we threw open the blinds of our hotel room and got a perfect view of them (they’re only a mile away). That woke us up in a hurry, even though we had gone almost 24 hours without sleep. Since we signed up to experience every extra that was available to us, Kathy and I took a morning tour to Memphis (the ancient capitol of Egypt). Our Coordinator Mohammed introduced us to our guide Mohammed who was later joined by our driver Mohammed. Guess which boy’s name has been at the top of the list of baby names for centuries? Together with our brief tour of Memphis we also were taken to the “step pyramid” of Saqqara. Look at the photo and I won’t need to explain why it is called that. This actually IS the oldest man-made structure on earth. It was really an ancient building when Abraham and Sarah came on their journeys into Egypt. The next oldest man-made structures would be the Pyramids of Gizeh (in old Cairo). Tomorrow morning we will go there and explore these famous structures with our knowledgeable guide Osama. Tonight he took us through an overview of the tour and answered any questions we had. (I asked him if it was off limits to talk with him about Egyptian politics and he said “No.” So, I will quiz him to find out more about the questions that are on the minds of so many of us about the future of this country, (which is still an American ally). And, by the way, the people on the street DO love Americans. We do have many
differences, but reminding Americans about them is not something they enjoy doing. Tomorrow the official tour begins, but tonight we got acquainted with our group. We’ll have a lot more to say about Egypt before we leave Cairo, but I’ll leave that for the next segment of my blog since my bed is reminding me that I am still on Phoenix time. See you later.