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November 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 29, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Egypt? Now? Yes!

from the November, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The July night I left for Cairo, I stood in the departure lounge and watched the events in Gaza unfold on the video monitor, wondering what I had gotten myself into. I may not an be old Middle East hand, but I have lived in Kuwait and traveled to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain and Dubai. Egypt had been on my bucket list for some time, the new government is more friendly to the United States, the prices were attractive so . . . if not now, when?

I need not have worried. The representatives who met me and my dive buddy on every leg of the trip were prompt, friendly, knowledgeable and spoke excellent English. After our week on the Aggressor, we were met at the boat by a Travelways rep, and took a four-hour van ride through the desert to the green lushness of Luxor. At the Luxor Hilton Resort & Spa, we had a Nile view room with balcony for $197 a day. Our guide met us in the lobby and we set up our schedule for the next three days.

We visited the Temple of Karnak, the Luxor Temple at night, Valley of the Kings, Tombs of the Nobles, the Worker's Village, Colossi of Memnon and the Temple of Hathor. One evening, we took a horse and buggy ride through old Luxor, past colorful stalls where the average Egyptian shops for bread and an amazing variety of fresh produce. Children shook our hands and shopkeepers asked, "Where from?" When I said America, they always replied, "Welcome, most welcome." At night, we sat in the Diwan at the Hilton, sipping adult beverages and dining on mezze, watching the Nile flow by while the sound- and lightshow illuminated the Valley of the Kings on the opposite bank.

In Cairo, we stayed in the Garden Wing of the Mena House Hotel, and from our balcony, watched the sun warm the Great Pyramid of Cheops. After the requisite tour of the pyramids and the Sphinx, we visited the National Museum, Mosque of Muhammad Ali, the church of Saint Sergio, even the Jewish Temple. No problems.

Admittedly, there is squalor in Egypt, and if your idea of a vacation does not involve hiking in the desert to see wonders of the Old World, you could dash in, do the liveaboard and head home -- but you would miss learning about a 5,000-year-old culture from some very warm and dignified people who still like Americans.

-- D.L.

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