EGYPTIAN SPLENDOR

Globus tour QE 10 days
October 7-15, 2005

Day 4: Cairo, Crafts and Egyptian Museum

This morning is dedicated to local handicrafts (and of course, shopping for the same!) We began at the Papyrus Institute. Here we saw the ancient process of making the world's first paper. It begins with the green reeds that grow along the Nile. They are thoroughly dried, and then shredded into strips of fibrous material. These strips are soaked for several days, and then carefully laid in a crossing pattern to make the best quality papyrus. A press squeezes out all the water, and when it has dried it is a material suitable for writing or painting. This entire process was invented by the Egyptians thousands of years ago to replace cumbersome clay tablets.

Of course, there are many examples of fine art on papyrus available for purchase, from very small prices to some very expensive pieces. We bought a beautifully written verse of the Koran, which Ahmed translated for us. It reads almost like a verse of the Bible, basically requesting forgiveness for sins.

Next we visited a carpet weaving school. Education is mandatory and free in Egypt, and these girls are receiving book lessons part of the day and serving an apprenticeship in the ancient art of making fine carpets, all paid for by the government. The carpets are actually knotted, not woven, and the girl's nimble fingers and good eyes for pattern produce some beautiful work. On completion of their apprenticeship they will have a very saleable skill for life. Of course there was also an opportunity to shop!
Our next stop was the famous Egyptian Museum. No pictures are permitted inside so I only have a picture of the facade. There are many interesting exhibits, and Ahmed led us through them, concentrating on the major characters in the great mystery story leading up to the murder of Tutankhamen. We were able to visit the King Tut exhibit and see the famous golden funeral mask as well as many other artifacts from the tomb.

The mummy room is a separate exhibit and charges a separate admission. Due to the early closing for Ramadan we were not able to see the mummies. While the museum is interesting, I found it really rather dry compared to the excitement of being in the actual temples, tombs and monuments themselves.

On the way to the airport for our flight to Aswan, we passed the square where Nasser was assassinated, and the modern pyramid built in his honor. When we arrived at the airport our "genie" Sobahy appeared and shephered us through the multiple layers of metal detectors and we took the plane for Aswan.
Our hotel in Aswan was the Elephantine Island resort. We all gathered in the lobby as Ahmed got our keys so it was a good chance for pictures of our group members. This was a very beautiful hotel, but alas the air conditioning was out. As a sort of compensation the hotel gave us all fruit baskets, and what is even more valuable, free bottled water!
Every room in this hotel has a balcony and a Nile view, as the Nile flows around both sides of the island. It was a nice place to relax and watch the river flow by.

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