Egypt Day 14: Grant's Favorite Day Yet (Not in Mel's Top Ten)

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Ok, Grant's title for today is a bit harsh, I did enjoy the day overall, but must admit I had a minor meltdown which I now feel horrible about. Minus the meltdown it was great, but more about that later. We must work chronologically through the day after all.

We had an early start, as it gets unbearably hot on the West Bank in the afternoon (we're talking 104 F or more). At 8 am we met our driver and were whisked off to the West Bank via a car with AC. He never once mentions taking us to any sort of 'factory' - this started our liking of the guy. We get to the ticket office and Grant goes to buy tickets while I'm reading the guide book; a poor choice since I had the information on how many tickets we needed and he said the signs weren't clearly marked at the window. We trudge ahead anyway.

Our driver informs us that the Valley of the Nobles, and their tombs, are clustered around the village on the hill, so we'd need to hire a guide to take us to the tombs. This is where I start to get frustrated. A little background on me here.

I like to wander, at my own pace, without a guide. I'm not really that fond of people telling me things as I go, I'm much happier just reading it out of my guide book. I know, it's quirky, but it's me. This is compounded, or perhaps caused by, the fact that I am uncomfortable with strangers. I don't know you, I don't know what your motives are. For all I know you want to kill me and leave me in a ditch. I know, highly over dramatic, and obviously has never happened, but still it's always nagging at me. Even on a less dramatic note, how do I know you're not just here to rip me off? This isn't to say I don't like meeting new people. I love meeting new people, but through a common link, where I know what they want (like the knitting group, I know folks are there to knit, so there's very little chance of there being an ulterior motive).

So, going back to our tale. I'm a bit disgruntled we need to hire a guide, but so be it. I'm further annoyed when the guide takes us up some hills and back through some alleys and finally, when we're no where near the car, decides to start the negotiation on price. I'm further upset because the ground here is awful, it's littered with trash and broken glass. Thanks to my blister, I've been wearing flip flops for days, and now am trying to avoid slicing open a toe.

We now start the talk on which tombs we want to see and how much it will cost us to have him show us where they are. He tells us we can't see the three we want to see without three sets of tickets (as they group the tombs and the three we wanted to see were in three different ticket groups, something not pointed out at the ticket window, though it was in the book, again we're back to the error Grant and I made earlier). So we say ok, then we should go back and get more tickets. Somehow it's decided that we're going to go ahead and see them anyway, without the three tickets - it was implied there was some sort of work around - though I'm still not clear as Grant was the one working all this out, I was still upset and not really paying attention so much as reading the guide book.

We get to the first tomb and it was very nice, except that the 'guard' followed us in and started talking. The problem was, he wasn't telling us anything that wasn't written on the walls, and it was really annoying me. You see, this first tomb actually had a mini-museum right in the first chamber. There was a statue replica (the first sunk on a ship during WWI while being transported to the US) and some panels showing outlines of what could be seen on the paintings in the next chamber - including descriptions of what the panels contained and a map of the tomb showing the shaft that lead to the burial room below. He was constantly hovering and pointing out things that were clearly labeled on the signs. I was having a hard time reading through his chatter, and was feeling very pressured to get out of there.

We went into the second chamber and looked at the paintings for ourselves. They were quite nice, I really enjoyed the section with a cat sitting under a chair eating a fish. There was also the famed picture of three musicians on the wall (apparently this appears on many of the Egypt t-shirts, though I've yet to see it elsewhere). Grant asked at the ticket booth if he could use his camera, and they said yes. So as I wandered out of the tomb Grant stayed behind to snap a picture or two. Upon leaving he tipped the 'guard' (for giving us a 'tour' we really didn't want). The guy yelled at Grant that it wasn't enough, he let him take pictures, even though he wasn't supposed to, and he needed a bigger tip. Grant suggested he could give him more, but only if the guy made change. The guy said he shouldn't have to make change, he should get the full amount. They start aruing louder and louder and at this point I lost it. I yelled at Grant that it was time to go, I was done with this shit. Yes dear reader, I did use that choice bit of profanity in public. It was not a proud moment.

We then get to the next tomb, and the guards refuse to take our tickets, even though we didn't use them to go in the other tomb in the first group. I get annoyed, because our 'guide' had said we could go and now he said, oh no, you need the right ticket. Then they start looking at my other tickets (to the Valley of the Workers and Medinat Habu) - implying we can use those to get in. At this point I really lose it. I mean, if they're going to break the rules and use a ticket for another site, why can't they use the ticket of the other tomb? In either case they are the same price and they're still getting a ticket. At this point I throw my hands in the air and storm off. I can see the car from this place and I'm done. I was horrible and ignored the nice little girl on the road who tried to talk to me, I was in a snit. It was not pretty.

Ultimately, I was irked because our guide should have made it very clear, at the car, that we needed more tickets. By the time he'd dragged us away it was too late. But, my horrible behavior was not the answer either. So I hang my head in shame at my behavior, it was not my proudest moment. I can only learn from it. So, in the future I will insist, politely, that everything be made clear at the car, or whatever the initial point of contact is for any future adventures.

We then head out to Deir Al-Medinah (the Valley of the Workers). Also a prominent area in our audio book, it was cool to see it. Basically there were two tombs we went into (small, but nice paintings) and one temple, dedicated to Hathor. There were also the stone wall remains (about 2 feet high at this point) of the original town where the workers lived.

After Deir Al-Medinah we drove over to Medinat Habu. This was a very nice temple (actually two temples), and included a beautiful three story Syrian gate enterance. Lots of very nice carvings, though many of the walls were no longer intact. There were some workers doing some reconstruction work while we were there too.

After the temple we head across the street so Grant could drink a soda. We chatted at length with our driver and learned about life growing up on the West Bank (where he and his family are from). It's a very tight knit group from all sounds. As we were leaving he claims the guy playing the flute was so famous he was even on MTV at one point. Not sure I buy that, but it makes for a good story.

We head back to Luxor and split a pizza at the Italian place at the Meridien, I'm still not up to local fare. We then wander back to our hotel to hit the pool. A couple of beers at the pool bar, followed by some ice cream bars, really hit the spot.

Finally, at dinner, I decide I can handle Middle Eastern food - so we ease into it with the Lebanese place at the Meridien. The courtyard it sits on is hopping. We enjoy people watching over dinner. We had some sort of walnut paste with red peppers with our dinner that Grant just went nuts for. I hope he can find it again when we're home.

Returning to our hotel we negotiate late check out for tomorrow. We aren't being picked up by Omar until 9 pm, and we didn't want to spend another day like the last one in Cairo without a room to retreat to (incase anything should go wrong) or a pool to relax by, should everything go right. 15 Euros to stay in our room until 9 pm was well worth it to us. We happily went to bed knowing we could sleep in and relax on our last day in Luxor.

Check out Grant's blog for Day 15: Suite Sharm El Sheikh.



Christina said:

Sorry you had such a frustrating time with your guide. I can imagine I might react the same way and then also regret it afterwards as well. We're all human and can sometimes let our frustrations get the best of us. It sounds like the rest of your day went better! I look forward to hearing more about your trip.

~ Christina

Marcos said:

well, it was very interesting all the things you posted little lamb and your tongur was really sharp.good idea to pay the extra 15 to both of you...we are still alive.

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This page contains a single entry by published on June 24, 2005 1:02 PM.

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