Arrival and The Egyptian Museum

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Well, I'm here! I found an Internet cafe right near the hotel. I am ready to pass out, but writing none the less.

The flight, of course, was not conducive to sleep. I was in the very back of a very HUGE plane. I was right across from the bathroom, so I was plagued with people slamming the privy door the whole trip. It also was the natural place for people to congregate and talk. I ended up meeting a nice woman from NY who had married an Egyptian. She had many enlightening suggestions.

The one remarkable thing about the trip was the sunrise. My internal clock had really good timing (though it is making me suffer now with jetlag (or is it jetforward?) and insomnia). I decided I was done with trying to sleep to no avail, and had the great idea of peaking out the window. Amazing! The sun was just coming up. It was a most beautiful crimson red that streaked across the horizon. The red bled into saffron, then yellow, then cool morning gray--it was like a low burning fire that stretched across the edge of the planet. The most exciting part of this was that when I looked back, dawn stretched into night. I was truly on the edge of two worlds. Ahead of me was the light of the future, behind me laid the mysteries of the night. They blended from one to the other was seamless. I so wish I had my camera available to document it, but alas, such was not the case.

At that point I was over France. How interesting it was to note that cities did not mesh together in one gigantic suburban sprawl (like in the North East US). These ancient urban spots were like glowing amebas. They were amorphous with pseudopod like extensions.

At a future point I looked out the window again in time to see the Alps. They were quite the majestic range I had imagined. Beautiful. I was struck with what an imposing natural barrier they make. My thoughts turned to Medieval and Prehistoric travelers who had to traverse the terrain by foot. But enough of airplanes, on to Egypt.

The hotel room is about what I expected (and I was expecting the bare minimum). It has lovely faded yellow wallpaper that is peeling off in places (don't fret, I have no intention of going mad and slithering over the floor), and the sanitation of the provided towels is dubious. It has a balcony (though no view), and a private bath. The shower has no curtain (so water goes everywhere), and there is hot water at only certain times of the day (I am so aching to take a shower. I tried, but it was too cold for me earlier).

As exhausted as I am, I forced myself to go to the Egyptian Museum (quick 10 min walk from here). Holy crud! Literally! It is a sin to human history. I found my hand repeatedly going to my mouth in shock and horror at the state of both the museum and it's artifacts. It is dirty, dingy, has broken windows, no order to the displays, and is falling apart. It reminds me of a poor inner city school/public facility that has not received TLC in decades. I don't think the Egyptian government has done anything to it since the 1930's, and I'm not kidding!

My preservationist self was reeling from blow after smiting blow. The state of the artifacts was horrifying. They were so dirty as to be discolored. In one particular case, the filth was so thick that you could barely read the card label. Many relics were rubbed smooth from the constant touch of tourists. They do have signs to the contrary, but no one notices them.

I don't even know why the security guards are around. They obviously aren't there to protect the collection. I can only surmise from personal observation that there are there to hit on pretty women whose are trying to enjoy the museum. I think every guard in the place must of tried to ply me with flattery. Dressed as a Muslim woman with a hijab, the common hit line was, "you have a pretty face." One guy was so persistent that I finally gave up spurning him and just plane left the museum. I was starving anyway.

I do have to admit though, that as awful as the museum is, it has some amazing pieces. I saw things there that I have never seen depicted in Egyptian art before--father kissing child on lap, hunchback, dwarf, bumblebee/wasp, etc. I want to go back and explore more, probably on Tues.

By the way, driving is insane in Cairo. They ignore all lanes by creating their own at any given time. They pass each other within a hairís breadth of colliding. At night they refuse to use their headlights, or to be more accurate, they only use them to flash other cars or people out of the way. The only individuals more insane than the drivers are the pedestrians. My god! They walk out into full-force on-coming traffic as if the vehicles were nothing but vapor mirages! I'm surprised that my taxi managed to avoid flattening these peripatetic fools.

Trying to cross a street your self is even hairier. As a New Yorker, I am used to trafficked street crossing, but there is no relief here from the onslaught of cars. More than once I found the only way to cross is to go when other Egyptians jump headlong. Follow the leader, and take a deep breath because it may be your last.