gmhTODAY 19 gmhToday April May 2018 - Page 98

and viewed the temple from the air. When the building of the dam threatened to submerge the monuments, work began in the 1960s to cut the temples from the mountainside and move to higher ground. Tens of thousands of blocks of rose granite were moved and precisely rebuilt. Guarding the entrance are four colossal statues of Ramses II clearly conveying “Beware, entering the land of the mighty king Ramses!” I don’t know what was more astonishing, the magnificence of the Temple or the fact that it was moved! From there, we sailed north, which is downriver, to Kom Ombo temple, noted for its hieroglyphics depicting use of medical instruments, and for the remains of beautiful color in the temples. In Edfu, we ventured to the Temple of Horus, via horse and buggy, led by our feisty horse Camilla. Along the Nile, agriculture still plays a key role in the Egyptian economy, with sugar cane being a key crop as well as bananas, dates, mango, and guava. The trip along the river was beautiful, but unfortunately, much of Egypt’s fertile land along the Nile is being consumed by concrete buildings to house the growing population. Soon we were at the Esna Locks. What a treat for the shoppers among us! The “Nile Vendors” followed the cruise ship in their small boats, and hurled merchandise such as 98 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN towels and tablecloths, up to the upper deck. From there you negotiated a price, and if you wanted to buy it, you wrapped the money into the item, threw it down, and they threw the item back up Later that night we all dressed and “attempted” to dance like Egyptians and were treated to Twirling Dervish and Belly Dancing. We finished our cruise on the East bank of the Nile, at Luxor, Hamdy’s home town, and checked into the beautiful Sonesta St. George Hotel. Nothing prepared us for the astonishment of Luxor! The city houses nearly a third of the antiquities known to man, primarily in the Luxor and Karnak temples. Karnak is the largest ancient religious site in the world. Its construction was started around 2000 BC, and pharaohs added temples, columns and other architectural wonders over the next 2000 years when Luxor was the center of culture. Wandering through these temples was a highlight of the trip and even more mesmerizing during the evening’s Light and Sound Show. The next day we crossed the river to the West Bank of the Nile which includes the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the Valley of the Nobles, and other fascinating temples, including the temple to the great female pharaoh, Hatshepsut. In the sand dunes of APRIL/MAY 2018