Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday, Feb 8th, Alexandria


The sound of Arabic sounded so sweet, as the couple next to me discussed their hopes that his father would meet them with a car at the airport. They showed me the famous boulevard “6th of October”, named after Cairo’s Independence Day, as we approached the runway from north of the city. I wondered whether streets would be named after their more recent independence days.
Ishmeel was standing just inside the terminal holding an “Adventures Abroad” sign, and smiling from ear to ear. He had done the same the night before, at two different flights, hoping to meet the Americans who he thought had been stranded in Paris.

We arrived at the Safir Hotel around 1:30am, instead of the Ramses Hilton. The civil protests in Tahrir Square, across the street from the Ramses, made it wiser to put a little distance between us and the center of trouble.

Jonathan met us in the lobby, made sure we were okay, and gave us the particulars of our breakfast and departure in five and a half hours. As we knew we wouldn’t get to sleep for at least another hour, we thanked everyone, and retired to our 7th floor room to unpack, shower, re-charge our cameras and computers, and hit the sack.
After breakfast, we met the other members of our group in the hotel lobby. Well-traveled Americans and Canadians, we were accompanied by a driver, tour guide, daily guide, and a guide in training to Alexandria for the day. As the countryside’s watertable lies relatively close to the surface, we passed rich agricultural areas where oranges, grapes, dates, and cotton are grown. Our primary destinations for the day were two of the seven wonders of the ancient world (the Alexandria Library and Lighthouse). We were treated to a protest in the courtyard of the library, where a large crowd chanted angry slogans against the relationship of the current museum director to the wife of the deposed President of Egypt. Along the way, we also descended into a second century BC underground tomb where Caligula buried eight horses killed in a stampede which intentionally trampled the city’s women and children. And we had lunch overlooking the site of Cleopatra’s palace, now sunk into the Mediterranean Sea.

The weather was cold, the sky was full of sand, and the Mediterranean stormy. But if our bodies shivered, our hearts were delighted – by the sights, sounds, and smells of a culture in great upheaval. Following a great tradition as a city which held the attention of the world for over two thousand years, Alexandria didn’t disappoint us.

For a look at the rest of the photos taken since we arrived, go to: Tuesday, Feb 8th, Alexandria

To view the video of the Alexandria Library Protest, click on: Alexandria Library Protest


1 comment:

DavidMacPh said...

Remember the old TV program "You Are There"? Or does that date us?

Anyway, that's what it's like reading your posts.

You got caught in a storm at Heathrow, friends of mine a few years ago got caught in the Iceland volcanic smoke, had to cut Malta out of their trip.

Wishing you smooth sailing ahead.