Friday, February 17, 2012

Wednesday, Feb 15th, Abydos and Dendara


This is the last day the group travels to the sites together. Tomorrow morning, we’ll fly early back to Cairo, and Pat and I will be taken to Giza to see the Pyramids, which the group visited on the first day we missed. One member of the group, who has been shadowing our tour guide in training, will fly back to her home in Uzbekistan, and the remaining members are going to the Cairo Museum and to the Citadel. We’ll reunite with the group at dinner, and then join two others to head to the airport for our flight late tomorrow night to Nairobi.

After breakfast in our hotel, we gathered box lunches from the front desk and boarded our bus. It was a tight fit into a small bus for the three-hour ride to Aptos and Dandara. This extra set of sites was an option we all chose, and we girded for the drive out of the tourist areas into the countryside. It gave us quite a few glimpses into rural life in Egypt.

We had no idea there was so much sugar cane being grown here. We saw it growing, being tied together in clusters while growing, being cut, stacked, dried, bundled, and then transported. From the fields, it was placed on backs of people, donkeys, and camels. It was fit onto rail cars between the rod and the fields. It was jammed onto large trucks, small vans, passenger cars, motorcycles and bicycles. And most of all, we saw it being eaten by kids everywhere.
While slowing down to cross a bridge near the center of a small village, a large truck packed with long shoots of sugar cane was attacked by a dozen awaiting kids. Each grabbed as many ends of the cane as possible, sticking out of the back of the truck, and pulled with all their weight to dislodge the stalks. The truck had no choice but to move with the flow of traffic, and hope that most of the cane would survive the attack.

We were surprised to see new housing sites being prepared, in anticipation of lower interest rates, and renewed government support for expansion out of the cities. Along the long drive, we encountered many desert tracts which looked like they had been claimed by settlers, and to which building materials were being assembled.

Because of the many speed bumps, the way out to the sites took longer than the way back (we took a short cut). The bumps seemed to coincide with community markets, small businesses, and side roads entering the highway. Each presented unique views of the people, their daily lives, and the pace of life.

One of the gods of ancient Egypt was Osiris. Involved in a major drama in which he was killed, and his body cut up, parts taken to lots of sites which were later retrieved by his sister and wife (Isis). Aptos was where she found his head, and it was here that shrines were constructed by Ramses II to both of them. In addition, shrines to Amun-Ra, Ra-Horakhty, Ptah, and Seti (Ramses II’f father) are also included in the temple.

Dendara is a site dedicated to Hathor, daughter of Ra and goddess of love and pleasure, and patron of music and dancing. It’s unique column-head sculptures, and vivid colors in the shrines, make it a temple not to be missed. We’re so glad we were able to fit these two wonderful sites on our visit’s itinerary.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on: Wednesday, Feb 15th, Abydos & Dendara

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