Thursday, February 23, 2012

Egypt After Mubarak

This is my 5th trip to Egypt and it hasn't changed one bit. If one didn't know that something big happened here (politically) on January 25, 2011, they couldn't guess it. Virtually everything seems the same - the traffic is horrendous, there are 25 million people in this relatively small space and the Egyptians remain friendly and out going towards tourists. Well, at least the Egyptians who work in tourism because that industry here has plunged 95% since the Arab Spring. They are hurting and just love to see that our group is here.

The last time I visited the Sphinx it was literally wall to wall people! Today, we were the only group there! What a difference this makes.

This trip is completely action packed and there is not enough time to do this blog justice. Look at the pictures and know that I wish I could write more about what we are seeing. Hopefully more geology to come in Rwanda with active volcano's and gorilla's living on their slopes.

The Mohammed Ali Mosque, designed after the Blue Mosque in Istanbul Turkey. It is located on a prominent hill overlooking downtown Cairo and the size of it is astounding.

Our group hearing about the building of the mosque while inside

Decorative and religious shield inside the Mohammed Ali Mosque. Religions everywhere might be separate in their details but the overall beliefs are the same - death is coming so be good here and now. The stories we are hearing about Islam have at their core similarities to Christianity. We fight partly because they are so related in their gross outlines.

Shafts of sunlight filtering through the windows in the mosque

The Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo

Students taking a field trip to the mosque

Colorful mosaic tiles in the niche that shows the way to Mecca

The market in Cairo is colorful, vibrant, and old. Here are a set of hubbly-bubble pipes for sale.

And dresses for the party

A shoe shine operation on a Cairo street

The spices are fragrant and colorful

Time to talk about Egyptians thousands of years ago before Islam. Here is a wooden boat that remained buried until 1954 and next to Cheops Pyramid (a tomb). It is about 4,500 years old. The Pharaoh's wanted to have many material possessions for the afterlife and their tombs were filled with things that would make what was to come more comfortable. This boat is 143 feet long and would enable the "resurrected" king to sail on the Nile River in the afterlife. 

Here is another tomb - a pyramid. Humans have always feared death and have created great stories about what might happen after we die.

Self portrait at the Pyramids of Giza

Sunset at the Sphinx. Originally, this was a promontory of limestone rock (Eocene or about 50 million years old) that was carved and shaped to look like the body of a lion (strength) and the head of a human (wisdom).

Two birds perch on the top of the Sphinx

Tonight, TCS threw a wonderful party for us at the pyramids. After the general public went back to Cairo at the close of the pyramids, our group of 47 was treated to local music and a tented dinner catered by the Four Seasons Hotel.

We also got to ride camels across the desert at sunset. It was a marvelous day!

4 comments:

Gaelyn said...

Action packed for sure.

Dr. Jack Share said...

Great photos and commentary (as always)! Keep it coming!

Toodles said...

We are reading every word and loving your amazing images!

Toodles said...

Joe and I are reading every word and loving your amazing images!