We left on Friday morning at five thirty am right as the shining African sun peaked over the buildings of Cairo. Heading to Luxor, we all slept on the plane and traveled to our hotel, the Winter Palace that is located right across from the East Bank of the Nile. Our hotel was the oldest in Luxor. A paradise hotel, it has been the place to be seen in Luxor for diplomats, dignitaries and vacationing guests from all over the world. It has been there since the 1830’s. We were flabbergasted with the amount of luxuriousness that surrounded the entire compound. Full of flower gardens, a menagerie, a pool with a bar inside it and pavilions for relaxing in the warm sweet air of middle Egypt, what was once the ancient city of Thebes. We visited Karnak Temple the first night after attending a lecture by a specialist on Egyptian history. My second time visiting, I am now more convinced than ever that the temple of Karnak should be considered to be a wonder of the ancient world. Towering above you, the columns allow you to imagine the daily life of the ancient Egyptians and reconstruct the day to day life thousands of years ago. It made me wonder, how different are we really? Did the people back then have the same worries, the same perception of their world? (minus all the technology and the obvious scientific developments of course) We were blessed to be allowed into an area that has been blocked to the public for decades because of restoration efforts. ARCE, our sponsoring organization is in charge of heading many of the archaeological and restoration efforts all over Egypt. We got a special tour of the area being restored which included a huge additional hall of columns and sacrificial temple. In addition, they led us through the archeological lab where the train the Egyptians to complete restoration projects and teach them preservation techniques.
The next day we visited The Valley of the Kings and Medinat Habu. Both protected UNESCO World Heritage sites, they display the beauty and magnificence of the pharaohs of the Middle Dynasty. I had visited both places last fall and was equally as interested in learning everything all over again. There is so much to see, I felt as if I was visiting it again for the first time. We came back around lunch time to avoid the heat of the day which had reached over 40 degrees Celcius. Lounging by the pool and temporarily escaping reality, we floated in the water, played and had fun just relaxing. We attended a lecture later that day by an archeologist with one of our sponsoring organizations on the ownership of cultural heritage and the denationalization of famous heritage sites. It was one of the most interesting lectures I’ve attended in a long time! In fact, it has now been 14 months since I have taken any class in English!