Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 10 - Luxor and Valley of Kings

Day 10 - Luxor - Valley of the Kings
Daytime high - 46 C
Do you ever wake up in the morning and think - "Gee, I want to ride a donkey today?". Well, we did!
Our morning started off bright and early (again). After a 4:30 am Prayer Call from a megaphone located about 10 feet from our hotel window, followed by 3 "Wake up calls" from Front Desk, I don't know how anyone could still be asleep. We rolled out of bed and got on our gear for a long (and hot) day in the Valley of the Kings.
We boarded a boat taxi to go to the West Bank of the Nile where our donkey convoy awaited us.
When I heard of the "donkey ride" I envisioned a mule (like small horse), and thought it was one of those "lost in translation" type things. No - truly we were going to ride donkeys.
I patiently waited for my donkey - and got a beautiful grey one - wait - aren't all donkeys grey? Actually I was thrilled that mine didn't have fleas!
I can't describe what it feels like to ride a donkey - not at all like a horse, more like you just sit on a blanket and let your legs hang and hold your body upright - I appreciated my Core Body Strength training classes. The donkey then takes these awkward steps - more like a fast walk which puts you slightly off balance. Anyway, after about 5 minutes, I felt like a pro - I mean, I rocked the camel, I can rock the donkey as well!!! I asked our Donkey Guide how to make it go faster, since it obviously didn't understand the english words of "giddy up", and the guide promptly smacked my asses ass and he broke into a full gallop!!! Yippee! I was flying to the front of the pack with my worries behind me...wait a that Vince I hear? Vince, it seems, was jealous at my donkey and I running away from his captors and decided to try to gallop as well - only to fall off in the farm lands! Unhurt, it "got back on the ass" and tried again. Well, I won the donkey race...Camel Olympics? Now I am all for Donkey Olympics!!!
Vince and His Ass ... plus a Donkey
Vince's Donkey was Pissed Off at Him
Sherrill and her Donkey - Team work produces Winners
We got to the Valley of the Kings bright and early. The Valley is built in the shadow of a mountain that takes a natural shape of a pyramid. Unfortunately, to protect the tombs and the paint, no cameras are allowed - so all I have is my memories to share with you. We visited a few tombs - including Ramses the IV, and they were spectacular. The tombs are painted on all sides and the roof in great detail. When you walk into the tomb, the first 100 feet is filled with hieroglyphic inscriptions from the Book of the Dead, and then typically a few rooms where the sarcophagus is located with the walls describing offerings to the gods and the underworld. It was unbelievable.
Even more unbelievable were the women walking on gravel limerock in 4" stilleto heels, but I digress...
After leaving the Valley of the Kings, we went to visit tomb of Hat-Cheap-Suit. Hatcepsout was the only Queen in Pharonic times that ruled as a king. She shaved her head and wore the "men clothes", only to be overthrown by her step-son Moses III. Her temple was built during her reign, then after she was overthrown, Moses III desecrated her temple so that she couldn't travel safely through the after life. All in all, it is a majestic temple, built on the "other side" of the mountain for Valley of the Kings (because she still is a women!), carved right into the mountain. Although her life didn't end on the throne, she still was a very powerful woman - one to be respected...go girl go!!!

Temple of Hatcepsout from a distance, Mountain like Pyramid on Left
Goddess Hathor - Of Beauty, Love and Joy
Sherrill trying to take some example from her...
3500 Year Old Paintings -BEAUTIFUL
After the day in the sun, we rejuvenated ourselves for another overnight train ride back to Cairo. Fun times!!!

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