Friday, February 10, 2012

Shakira and Jawahe visit the Valley of Kings

To continue my story of Luxor, I must now tell how amazing and unforgettable it was, regardless of what happened on the train. After spending only a few moments with the big chief in the police station I was seriously thinking about, well awful things to say to him. Jayanni kept looking at me, slightly exasperated I believe, and would say, "'s okay. Now, Whitney..."

The "big chief" was a big idiot. I swear any of my younger cousins would have been more productive than this man. He wouldn't listen to anything I was saying and continued to chastise me for not speaking better Arabic. I thought that he would have been sorry if my Arabic was better. In that moment this strange, red haired younger gentleman glided through the door wearing a traditional galabiya. I was taken aback but knew instantly that this was our Couchsurfing host, Ernesto from Nicaragua. The big chief greeted him like an old friend and began to ask him all sorts of questions about the train ride, what was stolen from me, where I lived, and other general questions. Ernesto explained that he wasn't on the train with me and was just meeting us for the first time. The big chief, confused as ever, continued asking Ernesto questions even though he obviously couldn't answer them. After an hour or so I finally had an official police report, written on a piece of wide-ruled paper and stamped. He told us to come back in a day or so to get tickets to return to Cairo.
With our dear host, Ernesto, as we wait semi-patiently for our henna to dry.
Ernesto grabbed my monstrous bag and took off through the station as Jay and I followed him. I stepped outside into the sun and felt a little better, then realized I was absolutely starving. We stopped at this little cafe type place for some hummus, bread, and soup. Ernesto had pizza, apparently one of the best places for pizza. We decided it would be best to go to his home and relax before doing anything else. Ernesto said that we had to take a ferry then a small minibus to his house, which was fine by us. As Jay and I walked to the ferry the view was breathtaking. The city swallowed us whole but I felt safe and at ease. Ernesto told us that we were looking at the ancient city of Thebes. Well, hello Thebes...nice to meet you!

The rest of the trip was magical, all a part from being heckled for extra piasters here and there. Tourism has really dropped within this area of Egypt and it's more often than not the only way the people made their living was by selling their crafts at the ancient sites or in front of shops. It was different than in Cairo and no one was hostile towards us.
Jay and I sightseeing in Luxor. I had to wear my glasses all day due to our furry, feline friend named Mimosa!
The Valley of Kings proved to be as unreal as you can imagine. Jay and I spent a few hours at the site. Many of the rooms looked like they had been painted just yesterday. I snapped photos to store in my favorite memories of the beautiful black and blue ceilings, painted with stars and hieroglyphics. Jayanni was so intrigued by the ankhs and we both loved the little owls that we saw painted everywhere. Some of the images were sketched so deeply into the wall, it was incredible to try and interpret what was created so long ago.
The color in the temple was still so vivid! Could you possibly imagine what it looked like when it was first built?
I don't know why I'm always drawn to birds. These falcons were beyond spectacular!
However, my absolute favorite part of the Luxor experience came in a package of three. The family that lived next door to Ernesto was an internally displaced Egyptian family that had been moved while Mubarak was still in power. This family, along with many others around Ernesto, had lived on top of the tombs for hundreds of years. The Egyptian government claimed that they were grave robbers and turned off all of their electricity and water, which forced them to move. Their homes were then destroyed, right in front of their very eyes.

The package of three turned out to be three little girls, very outgoing and mischievous. They made my heart smolder and I forgot every bad thing that had happened in Egypt. They called me Shakira and made me dance with them until I couldn't move my hips any more. Jay and I found ourselves in their home listening to Arabic music while the little girls performed in front of us. One was an especially good dancer and I prayed that she wouldn't be given to some man at an older age because of her beauty and amazing skill. *We learned later than her parents wanted both of the girls to become educated and make their own decisions, thanks to the influence of Ernesto.* The family was very smart and spoke almost perfect English. They made delicious meals for us and refused to take money from Jay when she tried to pay. We bought a lot of scarves and other handmade things to make up for this later.
With my three little dancers. :)
We danced and laughed under the moonlight, sat beside of a small fire and shared stories, and the girls rubbed henna on our hands so we would be "even more beautiful." Mohamed, their father, tried to sell us off to his friends and they offered us many camels and a lot of good food but we had to turn down their offers. :) My spirit felt at ease and I was in awe of the love and goodwill around me. Jay and I talked about how we met in Uganda, we compared the Egyptian sky with that of Gulutown, and how we were so fortunate to be in that place together.
Shakira and Jawahe. ;)

Inshallah, we will be so lucky again.

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