Saturday, July 14, 2007


We’re at sea again, having completed our one-day visit to Egypt. What a day it was! Our convoy of tour buses left the port of Alexandria at 8AM yesterday with a military and police escort. We had an armed guard on our bus – who escorted our group to every site – making sure the vendors didn’t get too aggressive with anyone. It was his misfortune to have a group that included 4 beautiful teenaged girls He was, literally, holding back groups of young men from the girls.

James and I seriously entertained the offer of 2 million camels for Madeleine. She was excited and quite proud to get the high bid, until we told her she would have to live in Egypt while we got to spend the money (camels fetch about $10, 000 each) Leah’s parents will be proud to learn that we turned down the 1 million camel offer on their behalf. Leah was also quite taken aback to learn that she received the lower bid because she is brunette. Apparently, true blondes are a valuable commodity. Given that both offers were likely an invitation to white slavery, I’m glad that we are able to laugh about them rather than being in the position to have to seriously consider them.

The guard on our bus asked me if all three of the girls were my daughters. I explained that Leah was a friend of Maddie’s but that we considered her one of our family – so only two of the girls were actually mine. He then asked, “What’s the matter with your husband? Is he a weak man?” Why no sons?” I laughed. I told him it took a far stronger man to raise a daughter – just look at the mayhem our Maddie & Leah had caused that afternoon! He laughed and agreed – he has a 6 –year- old daughter who he said had made him “her slave”. I think that’s the Egyptian equivalent of having Dad wrapped around your finger!

Our visits to Cairo, Giza, Memphis & Saakkara were just amazing. There was limited time, but during the 1.5-hour bus ride from Alexandria to Giza our guide, Sherri, gave us an incredible history lesson. I found some of the facts she presented just amazing. I had no idea that 2/3 of the Egyptian workforce was dependant on tourism. After 9/11 Egypt took a huge hit economically. Tourism to the region basically stopped dead. It forced the unemployment rate from 5% up to 18%!

Anyway, seeing the Pyramids was one of those “chills down your spine” moments. There was little time to take it all in. Then again, seeing the sphinx with the pyramids behind it was awesome. It played out like a dream – until a toothless guy riding a camel makes the poor animal bow down in front of you saying “Take a picture, Take a picture!” Then, of course, you are supposed to take a picture and pay him.

We visited the step pyramid in Saakkara and then the museum of Memphis – which had original treasures from what was once the most beautiful capital city in the world. Our last stop was at the Papyrus Institute, to see how paper was made from these abundant reeds. This was one day where shopping was not the first thing discussed but it was the last. We had 15 minutes to take a look around and then hop back on the bus and make the return drive to the ship. James was happy about that! We did manage to get great gifts for the nieces & nephews.

We saw rampant poverty in Egypt. However, every person we came into contact with was kind, helpful and friendly. People would wave from cars on the highways and from the streets. It was also very, very, dirty. Again, I don’t know if I was being judgmental – certainly you can’t expect to see spacious lawns and tree lined streets in the middle of the desert.

The seas are rough today as we head to Athens. Looks like a day of entertaining Josie indoors – the wind is really kickin’! 3 foot swells on the pool!

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