This journal entry was a little harder for me to decipher because I recall writing it while sitting on my bed… on an overnight train from Luxor back to Cairo. How many times can you say that?!
We woke up early that morning and met together by the Nile where we found our little felucca rides. In case you don’t know what a felucca is, just think Jungle Cruise from Disneyland but minus the man with a fake Australian accent leading the way. This is the real deal. On the Nile. We all kept saying “I can’t believe this is my life right now”. The felucca took us up to the Karnak temple. To say that I was impressed would be a huge understatement. This was by far my favorite temple. There were so many different elements added to this temple because It was built by so many different people, from Hatshepsut to Ramses II to Amenhotp IV and about 27 other Pharaohs. My favorite part of the temple was the Hypostyle Hall, which included 134 massive columns in 16 rows. The columns are about 80 feet high with a 33-foot circumference. Our guide said in order to build them that high, they started at the bottom and kept adding sand in order to build higher, once the columns reached the desired height, they started taking the sand out a little at a time and carving the Hieroglyphics on the way down. The columns are absolutely beautiful; they are shaped to look like papyrus flowers, which are one of the greatest symbols of life and re-birth to the Egyptians. I loved just walking through the halls and imagining myself there when they were finished and brightly painted.
Next we took a carriage ride from Karnak to the Luxor temple, we went along the same rout that the royals would take (well, as close to the rout as we could go because most of it is now being excavated). Greg and I got to share a carriage with Brother and Sister Judd and we took full advantage of pretending to be royalty.
We came up to the Avenue of Sphinxes and caught our first glimpse of the Luxor Temple. The Luxor temple was so vast; it took over 1400 years to build. It was fun to wander with our guide as he pointed out all the different Hieroglyphics and what they meant. It was amazing to me how they recorded their history, rituals, and beliefs all on the walls of the temples. Their whole lives were spent preparing them for the afterlife and making sure that their names were preserved. It was incredible to learn so much about them and touch these ancient writings and to picture someone here thousands of years ago carving them out.
After Luxor we had free time back at the Hotel, everyone headed out to the pool to soak in all the sunlight that we could. Then Stephen, Lindsey, Spencer, and I grabbed a taxi and headed down to the souk to do some last minuet shopping. We made more friends and had a fun time, our taxi driver on the way back was telling us how he recites the call to prayer in the morning and pointed out his minaret on the way home. Getting to know these people was a highlight of my trip; they are so hospitable and have such a passion for life. I think sometimes we get stuck in our own little world, thinking that there is nothing more then Target and Reality TV. This was one of my first times out of the country where I got to experience new kinds of people. People who have to fight for their freedom, people who dedicate their entire selves to their beliefs, people who were beyond their years in intelligence. I have learned about these kinds of people my whole life, but it seemed more of a story to me. Being here and embarking on this journey has allowed me to not only see these kinds of people, but also to get to know them and talk to them, to be a part of their lives. I’m so grateful for that opportunity, I have learned more in Egypt then I ever thought I would.
When we got back, we spent our dinner watching out last sunset over the striking Nile River. We grabbed our little blue BYU bags and headed for the train station. We were all excited to board the train; I can’t remember the last time I was on one… Kindergarten maybe? We all got our little cars and set our stuff down. We were all so excited that none of us wanted to go to bed, so we entertained ourselves but hopping between cars and trying to fit 20 people in a 2 person room for games. It’s amazing how close this trip brought us all, these experiences will bond a group of kids like no other. After a couple games of “Smurf” we decided that we had better get to bed considering that it would take us a while to fall asleep. On to Cairo we go!