Humans of Luxor

Luxor is a city in southern Egypt of 500,000 people. It’s the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, and has frequently been characterized as the “world’s greatest open air museum.” Temple ruins are everywhere. Here’s a quick glimpse of what we saw when we drove through the city on our way from Aswan back to Hurghada.

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This is a picture I took of the Habu Temple which is one of the temples of King Ramses III who ruled Egypt 3,200 years ago. We only had two hours in Luxor – a city that one could spend two months in and probably not see all the history. This is the temple we stopped to explore based on many people’s recommendation. I’ll show you why in my next post, but for today…

Here are the fascinating humans of Luxor. And by the way, you can click on each picture to see them larger and with more detail.

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Humans of Aswan

Aswan is a city of 300,000 people in southern Egypt. It’s a busy market and tourist center located on the Nile River and surrounded by ancient ruins from dynasties gone by. The city is a mix of people – many living a more modern existence but some continuing to live as if modernity never arrived. Both types of people live harmoniously side-by-side, and the mixture of the two creates a fascinating community. Here are some pictures of the humans of Aswan that I took while there this week.

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Taking the Nile to the Egyptian Ruins

After 6 straight days of either traveling and/or meeting with people, Charles and I decided to take the afternoon off of our final day in Aswan, Egypt. We’ve traveled 7,400 miles by air and 600 miles by car (with another 500 miles to go tomorrow), so we think we deserve an afternoon off – at least that’s what we told ourselves.

We were told that we MUST take a boat to the island of Elephantine on the Nile River. The island contains the ruins of the temples from the Thirtieth Dynasty of Egypt dated 380 BC-343 BC. Visitors must come by boat, but if they do, they can actually walk through the ruins with very little restriction. And that’s what Charles and I did. It was fascinating. Incredible. Surreal. Here are some of the pictures I took – unless I’m in them. Charles took those!

And yes…we began our voyage at the Aswan McDonald’s – which is a restaurant that only the wealthy can afford. Charles had a Big Mac and said it tasted the same as in America. I decided to be adventurous and have the McArabia with grilled kofta – and I wished I hadn’t. It was a little too Arabian for me. Here’s what the McArabia is if you’re wondering. Anyway…the pictures.

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The Beja People

BejaEgyptians are not all the same. When asked who they are, some may say that they are “Egyptian,” but many will identify themselves by their tribe. One of the tribes found in Egypt is the Beja Tribe. These people are an ethnic group inhabiting the southern portion of Egypt, the northeastern portion of Sudan, and parts of Eritrea. For centuries, the Beja have been nomadic, leading their animals to food and water all across the Sahara Desert. Many still do this, but more and more are settling down and living as farmers and fishermen. Some in Egypt have even moved into resort areas and work on the water as boat operators and dive instructors!

The Beja are known for their coffee – or “jabana” as they call it. Jabana is a very strong coffee with a heavy ginger flavor made over an open fire and served with a large amount of sugar. Charles and I took a horse carriage to a Beja community in Aswan yesterday and enjoyed jabana with some of the Beja men and their children. Some tried out their English with me, but most knew very little. So as Charles spoke with them in Arabic, they kept pouring the jabana – and we kept drinking. I – being the jabana lightweight that I am – had to cut things off at 3 cups, but Charles kept drinking…and kept talking! Here are some pictures from our visit.

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Traveling In Egypt

hurgtoaswanYesterday, Charles and I embarked with 7 others on a 450-mile trip that took 10-hours from the city of Hurghada to the city of Aswan in Egypt. As you can see, we spent most of our time on the Red Sea Highway which provided for beautiful glimpses of the Red Sea coast line. But when we turned west, it was as if we entered another planet. The final 3 hours of our trip was through the sun-scorched Sahara Desert, but the payoff was an incredible African sunset.

The trip consisted of passing through small villages and stopping at some very interesting rest stops and visiting with locals. Of course, Charles – who speaks Arabic very well as attested by more than one Egyptian – did the visiting, and I did the smiling and head-nodding. Here are pictures from the trip…

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Humans of Hurghada

Hurghada, Egypt is known as a resort town on the coast of the Red Sea, and it is – at least part of it. The city consists of 200 resorts and hotels aimed at vacationing Egyptians and Europeans. The coastline is beautiful and the resorts are exceptional. However, just minutes from the resorts, the city transitions into a typical Egyptian village, filled with working people making a meager living selling their wares and riding donkey carts, horses, and motorcycles. Yesterday, we ventured out with our cameras in tow, and here’s a look at the humans of Hurghada.

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Trash Day in NYC and Hurghada, Egypt

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The first 36 hours of our trip to Africa were bookmarked by trash. Charles and I took the red-eye to New York City on Tuesday night and landed there early Wednesday morning. Our flight to Cairo was not scheduled to depart until 6:30PM, so with 12-hours in NYC, we hopped on the subway and headed into the city. An hour later, we excitedly climbed out of the underground tunnels onto the streets of lower Manhattan only to be greeted by trash – and lots of it.

The East Coast has been drilled with double the average amount of snow, and right before we landed in NYC, the city was hit with yet another round. They have nowhere to put the snow other than to pile it up along the sides of the streets. Wednesday was garbage day, and coupled with the snow, it was a messy day in the city.

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After a cold and wet – but fun – day in the city, Charles and I boarded our 10-hour flight to Cairo. Both of us slept most of the flight, landed in Cairo, and boarded another plane for the final 1.5 hour flight to our destination of Hurghada.

When we arrived in Hurghada, it was sunny and hot – much different than the weather in NYC. However, one thing was the same: evidently Thursday is garbage day in Hurghada! On our way from the airport to our villa, trash trucks frequented the streets – including this one that I think was loaded to capacity!

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We made it to our villa, and after much needed showers, Charles and I flagged down a taxi and met up with the friends we came to see. We enjoyed a good dinner and insightful conversations with them, but jet-lag hit hard, so we headed back for our first real night of sleep in over 2 days.

We have so much information to attain in such a short amount of time. Please pray for us to receive the information we need and to discern which places to visit and people with whom to connect.

Here are some more pictures from our first day in Egypt. Top left: Charles dickering with our taxi driver while laughing with him at the guys sitting in the trunk ahead of us. Top right: One of the many mosques. Bottom right: The view from our conference room with the Red Sea at the end of the street. Bottom left: Another mosque.

Compilation

More pictures and stories to come tomorrow…