Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: archaeology, chickens, COSI, Egypt, food, gifts, Khan el-Khalili, Led Zeppelin, market, money, Nile, street
We were happy to see Ana again today and to meet with her team. Going through the interviews and conversations with these people really brought home the interdisciplinary nature of science. Each one’s work influences the other, and the synergy that results provides new insights into our world. It was such a gift to meet with each of them, and we are so grateful. All the experiences we’ve had here have allowed us to better tell the story of Egyptian archaeology in our exhibit, but the scientist’s stories are providing such a beautiful and direct look into what science is all about. Amazing.
As a contrast to our extraordinary morning, we went shopping later today at the Khan el-Khalili market – a huge open market with hundreds of vendors lined up on street after street, selling everything: food (fresh oranges and bananas, live chickens, candy), clothing (t-shirts, belly-dancing outfits, galabyas, and thousands of scarves), gifts (wooden inlaid boxes, brass lanterns shaped like stars, incense, spices), and just about anything else you could imagine.
We bought a few brass lanterns for the exhibit, but spent most of our time just getting used to the shopkeeper’s teasing, “I miss your money!” and the sights, sounds and smells (mostly good smells, by the way – incense, cooking food, baking bread). Being there was like being in a movie – just unreal. I kept expecting a director to yell “Cut. Now, let’s get a few more donkeys in the scene, and where’s my smoke machine?!” The experience was topped off by riding back to the hotel listening to Led Zeppelin on the taxi’s radio, as we crossed the Nile River. The two worlds merge and clash in ways that are both startling and funny.
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: bazaar, buggies, chickens, Egypt, flavor, food, horse, local, Luxor, market, organic, Quickie Mart
You wouldn’t think there’d be more to say after Kate and Carli’s entries, but there is. We ended the day at a local market, after unsuccessfully attempting to make it to the only FedEx store in Luxor before it closed (the working hours of most stores here are much more flexible than those of businesses in the States – yet another reflection of the generally relaxed attitude here).
We asked our cab driver to take us to the actual local market, not the kind of bazaar that the tourists usually frequent. And we certainly got what we asked for. It was quite obvious to everyone involved that we weren’t local, a fact that was highlighted even more by the frequent horse and buggies that ferried the tourists rapidly through the streets. What an experience. We saw live chickens being sold, colorful local fruits that were clearly grown organically, baskets of spices, donkey-pulled carts, and about as much local flavor as we’ve had the chance to experience anywhere on this trip.
Overall, our experience has been rather sanitized, as we’ve been shuttled from our sheltered hotels back and forth to the sites by a team of guides and guards who are clearly dedicated to taking the best of care of us. And while we’ve certainly been well looked after, we’ve missed out on some of the Egyptian flair that helps to further illustrate that we aren’t in Kansas anymore.
It’s nice to remember that in some places, there are no such things as price tags, eye-catching packaging can be substituted with quality merchandise, and, maybe most importantly, that the vast majority of the world doesn’t do their shopping at the Quickie Mart.
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: COSI, customs, Egypt, food, landing, plane
When the plane touched down, everyone spontaneously applauded. We’re in Egypt! The street signs are in Arabic and English. On the way to the hotel, passing through Heliopolis, “the city of the sun,” I saw graffiti on walls and columns – names written in Arabic with spray paint. I love that this is a universal form of artistic expression.
At dinner tonight, at an outdoor café, eating scrumptious lamb and hummos sandwiches, I searched the sky for familiar stars and constellations, but clouds obscured my view. There are so many stories and customs from this place and these people – both old and new. I want to learn as many of them as I can while we’re here.