I have moved my blog to Escapade78.com. Don't get me wrong, I like adventures of a Texan, but Escapade has such a better meaning. I hope you will subscribe to my new blog and keep following along with me. I plan on canceling my Typepad account in about a month. Cheers!
Early today, I got an email for Lisa Jones from the Vitamin, a web resource by Carson Systems, about helping to write for them. Of course this is after I asked to be a writer and try to contribute a few thoughts to the web discussions. She asked what area I was interested in and could contribute to. My response...the business of the web.
If you haven't learned by now, I love talking about business ideas, models, and plans. Critiquing, visualizing how I would have done similar or different things as others in the market. Regardless as to whether I will get to write for the Vitamin, I will have plenty of opportunity to speak about business.
Where? At the Simple Business Workshops. So far, interest has been stirring, and signups have begun. In fact, in just one month and 2 days, we will be down in San Diego hosting the first Simple Business Workshop at our alma mater, Point Loma Nazarene University. I am really getting excited about presenting, sharing and meeting new business owners and creative professionals. That is my bread and butter.
So, maybe I will get a chance to write about business on the Vitamin, and maybe not. But, at least I will be writing on my blog about my experiences at the workshops.
I am going to be driving again. This time, from Odessa, TX to Cambria, CA. Type that one into google maps and it will tell you that it is about 1350 miles.
Hopefully, I will get to pass through Phoenix and see Shanti, my star developer.
At first I didn't know what to think about the title, but now it has begun to make sense. It is the name of one of the blogs from the Sparkplug9.com website. The FishCrackers section of the site is devoted to the author's desire to share his faith. The subtitle is 'a little snack from the bread of life' which is clever as they come. Check it out.
I slept so well on the train ride back, that I had plenty of energy for the day. So, after dropping Amy off at the hotel, I went to the Costa Cafe for about 3 hours of internet. Then Eli and Amy met me for brunch. We had a great conversation. Arab diplomacy, American political environment, Archeological ethics, looting, teaching at universities, the Nazarene Church, and lots of others subjects.
Eli had to finish a paper (in Arabic) so Amy and I decided, let's go to Giza. Again? Yes, but this time, going with Amy to the great pyramids would make a difference, I was sure. For the ride out, we decided to ride in the new Yellow Capital Taxi. For the locals, these cabs are supposedly 'more expensive', but to a visitor, you actually get a metered ride in a new car with A/C. AND, it turned out to be half of the price that a tourist would normally pay. The ride was fabulous. And, on a Friday (weekend day in most Islamic cultures), there was hardly any traffic.
We climbed on the sides of pyramids, took some great photos, and ended up doing the 'touristy' thing and rode a camel. The camel's name was Charlie Brown. No kidding. Our guide was such a great guy, it made the time worth it. Oh, several times throught the last week, when asked my name, some of the locals would tease me and say that I was Ramses, due to my goatee that is growing out a touch. So, I figured that when asked my name the first time, to reply as 'Ramses' which gave everyone a good laugh and help to relax the environment. If you go look for Charlie Brown near the great pyramids, tell the man that Texas-Ramses sent you. He'll know who you are talking about. :)
Back to Cairo in the Yellow cab, and we picked up Eli, to go to dinner. I took them out to a steak joint on the river. It was nice and the steak was oh so tender. Afterwards, we did a bit of shopping in Khan El-Khalili market for some kefiyehs, and a t-shirt with Coca-Cola written in Arabic. Quite a bit of the market was closed because it was late, but also on the weekend night, not as busy. We finished our evening with a quick jaunt to a local restaurant, for some beverages, and quick conversation. Then, losing track of time, we rushed back tot he hotel to send me off (in a Yellow Capital Taxi). Taking the Yellow taxi cost me one-third the price that I paid when I arrived.
My flight was delayed by an hour and some change, but fortunately, was only a third full. So, I got a row to myself to sleep on the flight home. Oh, the flight took off at 4 am. I am writing this from the confines of the flat on Na Kozacce, home sweet home.
What a great adventure these last few weeks have been. No regrets. Lots of stories. And, my eyes have just been opened to some of the Egypt that we have read about all these years. I am curious what it will look like in the next 20. Ciao.
We kept our sleeping short and headed off around 8 am to beat the heat; though in hindsight, it isn't really possible to do. We hopped onto the ferry to cross the Nile. Today's excursion would all take place on the West Bank of Luxor. Our first stop, was the Valley of the Kings, the tombs of the new kingdom pharaohs of the 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties. Many, many of the tombs are from the Ramasid line (Ramses 2 - or Ramses the Great). Your ticket gets you into 3 tombs of your choice. Amy had several selected for her research which was great. Without Amy, it would have been like looking to find meaning in someone else's kid's finger paintings at 8 months.
The first was the tomb of Ramses the 7th. On the small side, but the first one discovered in the Valley. The color that was remaining on the tomb walls was amazing to see. 3000 years later, and some of the colors are very vivid. Amy was able to tell the stories of the walls which are writings from the Book of Caverns, Book of Gates, and the infamous, Book of the Dead. Although the Book of Caverns and Gates tell so much more. She could even read many of the Hieroglyphs. While no pictures of the tombs are allowed, I snuck a few pics out of there. Yeah digital. At the end of that tomb time, the tomb keeper allowed us to climb inside the pit where the sarcophagus was kept. We decided that we now have earned the title of 'tomb raiders' after that little excursion.
We then went on to see 4 more tombs. The next one was huge in comparison to the first and had tons of very colorful hieroglyphs and multiple chambers. But, due to it's size, it was packed with tour bus loads of folks. Then on to a smaller one and another good sized one near the front. Sneaking picture the whole time. ;) wink!
The last tomb was the smallest that we saw, but it was of the Famous, King Tutankhamun, one of the youngest pharaohs and with a very short reign. It was good to see, especially after having seen the gold casket and death mask at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo last week.
At this point we had to get to the next site, the temple of Hatsheptsut, the one who did the Obelisks at the Karnak temple. When, all of a sudden, I recognized a logo of Cedok (a Czech tour agency), the group I was considering traveling with originally. So, what the heck... I asked them if we could bum a ride. Turns out they were going to the same temple but had to stop at an alabaster shop first. Cool by us. Free ride with A/C. They even got us the group rate for the next temple. :)
The Temple of Hatsheptsut was nice and impressive at the bottom of the limestone mountains. But, most references to Hatshepsut were chiseled out by her immediate successor, her nephew. Hatshepsut claimed that she was the daughter of a God and in order for her nephew to take the throne and claim to come from a legitimate line, he had to cross her name out. Still a nice place. Unfortunately, the tour bus was heading to the East Bank for lunch, and we still had more to see. We took a cab with another couple to the Medinet Habu temple. Just prior to arriving at the temple, we had lunch at a little hole in the wall hotel in the middle of nowhere. Not bad.
The temple was across the street and was again, huge. This one had more complete walls than the other two and very complete roofs. But, what was really great was bumming a ride at the end from a group of three Dutch tourists. They took us all through the country side, over the Nile and to the front door of our hotel. FOR FREE!!! We really lucked out. Then, some snacks, a touch of internet and out to the Hassle-Free shopping zone. After a bit of that, I snuck into the pool house, and grabbed a quick shower. Shhh...don't tell anyone.
Waking up happened several time through the night, but when 6 am rolled around, we were treated to breakfast. 4 types of bread...with jam....and butter. Not fancy, but it is consistent with the Egyptian diet. Did you know that 60% of the Egyptian diet is bread? tis true. What's Atkins again?
So, we were ready to take on the city and dropped our luggage off in our 5-start hotel, the New Winter Palace right on the Nile. With a view of the Nile and the Luxor Temple. Really cool.
So, we trekked to the Luxor Temple and I liked it. Great columns and posts measuring 24 meters high (like 70+ feet) with a cool avenue of sphinxes and huge statues of pharaohs. I really liked it. Then we walked to the Karnak Temple that ended being about 3.5 km away. But at 10 am, it was nice and cool. The Karnak Temple is HUGE!!!! Oh man. The walls must have been over 100 ft tall and a colonnade of 134 enormous columns. Hieroglyphs everywhere and several still retaining their color. We saw 2 amazing obelisks created by Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh (though not the only female pharaoh). This temple was just stinking huge. Don't worry, pictures are coming...
After the Karnak temple, we started walking back to the hotel and came across a nice cafe. The Oasis cafe where I had a wonderful spicy lentil soup and fresh fluffy bread. Yummydoodle. After lunch, we were pooped and decided to take a nap during the hot part of the day. 4 hours later (we were tired), we got up and went to the bazaar in town for some shopping. The so-called 'No Hassle' market, was a bunch of bull. The hassle, or hustle, never ended. Around 9pm, we went back to the Karnak Temple for the Sound and Light show. In the lonely planet guide, it is taold to be a Hollywood style show that truly shows the temple off. Well, the narration was cheesy, but the lights were cool. It was wonderful seeing the enormous place light up in the night sky. Beautiful. Afterward, a touch more 'hassle-free' shopping then to bed.
Today started nice and slowly as I checked out of the hotel in Zamalek and went to a cafe to do some morning work. Then I met up with Amy for brunch where we planned out our day. We ran to the American Express office in the Nile Hilton to purchase tickets for the sleeping car train to Luxor. While there, we found out that they offered a 5-star hotel in Luxor for $50 a night. So, we got it. Why not?
Then, as the tickets and itinerary were being put together, Amy and I went by the AUC (American University Cairo) library so that she could get some maps of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings for her research. We did a fair amount of walking today back and forth to several places, but I won't bore you with the details.
We found a late lunch spot and hunkered down for a meal. Panini. Mozarella and tomato. mmmm good. Then back to the hotel in Zamalek to pack up for the Luxor trip.
At 7:30 we arrived at the Ramses Train station and boarded the train. Not to shabby. We had a double sleeping compartment with the fold down beds. They served a full dinner to us that was a mixture of Egyptian foods. Very tasty. Not sure of any of the names, but there was brown stuff, and rice, and fish, and beef, and ....who knows what that green thing was.... The rest of the train ride was good except for the train conductor. It almost felt like a teenage girl was learning to drive a manual transmission car (little jerky). Nearly fell out of bed. :)