The Matchbook Diaries

Friday, December 29th Shanghai, China

Was reminiscing last night about our trip to Luxor.  We had a physician in Qatar who was Egyptian and he said the only place to visit in Egypt was Luxor, so we spent a few weeks there.  They use donkey carts there still and the carts and donkeys are all dressed up.  We stayed in this little stone villa on the Nile and we slept in alcoves carved out of stone.  In the mornings we ate tomatoes and Egyptian cheese for breakfast.  One day we took our rental car to this faraway temple we were keen to visit.  It was several hours away.  (One thing we had to get used to driving in Egypt is that they don’t use their headlights at night.)

It was market day that day so when we got to this one village we were suddenly swamped in a massive crowd of pedestrians, so many that we couldn’t really drive.  Then this young man taps on our window.  He had a huge machine gun slung over his back.  In English he asks us where we are going and we told him we were trying to get to this temple.  We were still a long ways away.  He gestured for us to follow him and the crowd parted and he hopped into this military vehicle, into the canvas covered back with a bunch of soldiers on a bench.  They ran us all the way to that temple – we skipped every intersection, traffic waited, and we passed like royalty.  They passed us off, village to village, to new sets of soldiers.

The temple was cool and my son rode a camel, although, having done so in the desert in Qatar, I knew he was NOT fond.  (Too much swaying.)  Anyhow, hours later we emerged to our rental car and another military escort began the tag team process and whizzed us back to the halfway point.  No one ever asked us for anything, they just wanted to facilitate our trip.  We were the only western people in Egypt back then; everyone was scared to go.  It was so much fun.  Pictures of that temple and our trip are here on the site.

We made friends with a local family on that trip and they had us into their home for dinner.  My son played football with their son and petted their donkey.