COSI’s Lost Egypt Exhibition

Waking Up in Cairo – New and Familiar Sights by Carli
March 1, 2008, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Author: Carli

I woke up this morning and opened the window shade on the airplane just in time to see the African coastline approaching. From that altitude, the topography could have been the coast of New Jersey, but I tried to imagine all sorts of safari beasts running free 36,000 feet below me. I can’t believe that I left Columbus yesterday, fell asleep somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, and woke up over the African continent. And now here I sit in a hotel room in Cairo. The immensity of this trip and the adventure we are about to embark on has yet to hit me.

Upon arriving at the Cairo airport, our group trudged through security and customs, answered countless questions about the camera gear, showed our passports to at least a dozen people, and were finally on our way. On the road to the hotel we passed high-rise buildings, apartments with drying laundry in the windows, train stations, shopping centers, and mosques, all along a three-lane highway running five-cars wide. I took particular pleasure in the billboards featuring everything from hair-loss solutions to Pepsi products. Most signage is bilingual featuring both Arabic and English.

The Marriott Cairo, otherwise known as the “Al Gezirah Palace” is the largest hotel in the Middle East, housing over 1200 room. It was built by Khedive Ismail as a guest palace for the Suez Canal inauguration celebrations in 1869, and played host to European monarchs, including Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III. But we’ll get to the history soon enough. At this point, after 24 hours of traveling, Kate and I are just enjoying the palm trees out the window, a nice breeze, and a good shower.


Another World – Yet So Close to Home by Josh
March 1, 2008, 7:35 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , ,

Author: Josh

Egypt has always been one of those ethereal places in my mind: frozen in time, with monuments to humankind’s timeless accomplishments hovering against a background of mystery. I pictured the pyramids as being remote, the people exotic, the setting almost otherworldly. Stepping onto the plane yesterday afternoon, I imagined myself stepping off today in a different world.

Of course, I’ve been wrong before. Having been in the city for almost six hours now, I could almost convince myself that we haven’t even left the country, let alone walked off the edge of the planet. We’re staying at a Marriott, and the rooms look remarkably similar to those at countless other Marriotts where I’ve crashed for a night or so. Driving to the hotel from the airport, we drove past billboards advertising for Pizza Hut, Jeep, and Heinz Ketchup (the last of which featured none other than the Tasmanian Devil). I could have eaten a bacon cheeseburger for dinner and washed it down with a Diet Pepsi before swinging by an ATM machine and calling my wife on my cell phone. So much for the land that time forgot.

And honestly? I prefer this version of reality to the fantasy I’d created for myself. Sure, the creature comforts are great, but more than that I think that being surrounded by all of the trappings of modern society makes the Egyptians’ ancient accomplishments that much more impressive. Because if I’d be lost without the sounds of “NCIS” and “American Idol” on the hotel television, I can’t even fathom how I’d begin to build structures that could stand for 4,000 years.