Friday, December 05, 2008

The 153rd good thing about Lagos: a chance to visit a very different African country, with a bonus look at a former home

One big perk about living in Lagos is our R&R trips out of the country. The company covers our airfare and gives us a per diem that doesn't cover our costs, but helps with the expense of the trip. Our university student son really enjoys having them pay for his travel to meet us twice a year. He doesn't have a lot of free time, but he was willing to miss some school around his Thanksgiving break if it meant a trip to a new place. Last Thanksgiving we had a wonderful time in Madeira, and this year we chose to travel to Egypt, via Dubai. We had lived in Dubai from 1990-1992, before it started to boom. Our son, Jordan, was just 6 years old when we left. Jordan and the emirate had both grown tremendously since they were last together. We just stayed there for one night and had a day and a half to look the place over.

This road with the skyscrapers was nothing but desert emptiness when we lived there. Now it's this huge busy highway lined with very tall buildings.

That's the Burj Dubai, which will be the tallest building in the world in the background of this next picture. In the foreground is the demolition of the neighborhood club and swimming pool which was across the street from the villa where we lived in Dubai. We also came in time to see the demolition of our former home and the neighborhood by the American school where many of our friends lived. Who knows what will be built in their place.

After our nostalgia tour of our previous home and the school, we visited some malls -- one famous one with a ski slope inside. I enjoyed even more the visits to the old shopping areas of Dubai -- the spice souk, where I replenished my supply of frankincense and myrhh, and the gold souk where we looked, but didn't buy a thing.

We enjoyed taking an abra, a water taxi across the creek to the souks. It was about the only cheap thing in Dubai, costing only a dirham -- about a quarter, to get to the other side of the creek.

Dubai is a playground for the very rich. I am very glad that we lived there back before it became what it is now.

From the old alongside the very new in Dubai, we traveled to Egypt, where old takes on another dimension.

We visited pyramids, this step pyramid in Saqqara (outside Cairo, near the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis) is the earliest pyramid constructed, designed by the innovative architect Imhotep in the 27th century BC.

Of course we also saw the most famous pyramids in Giza, which we could see from our hotel window. I was amazed at how close they were to the city.

We rode a camel,

and saw the Sphinx.

We took a sleeper train to Aswan and spent the day down there (though it's south, it's called "Upper Egypt") sightseeing. We saw the great Aswan and the High dam that have regulated the flow of the Nile and then took a boat to visit the temple complex of Philae, which was relocated to a higher island in the 70s after it was flooded after construction of the High Dam. UNESCO relocated 24 monuments in Egypt and the Sudan that would have been lost under Lake Nasser with the construction of the High Dam. Philae is a beautiful complex and it was awesome to contemplate not only the initial construction of the buildings, but also to wonder how they were able to move the whole thing.

We then went on to Luxor, where we visited some tombs in the barren Valley of the Kings, where King Tut's tomb was found, along with over 60 other tombs, and undoubtedly more still undiscovered. They are still doing lots of excavation and exploration here.

We visited the amazing Temple of Hatshepsut, built against a high cliff. She was a female Pharoah, who reigned in the mid 1400's BC. She was a strong woman who wanted to be pictured as a male so noone would question her strength.

On Thanksgiving Day we got an early start and got to be one of the first of the day in to visit the beautiful temple of Karnak. It was lovely to see the huge pillars and tour enormous complex in stillness in the early morning light.

We then visited the Temple of Luxor,

ate Thanksgiving dinner on the banks of the Nile (no turkey) and took an afternoon ride on a felucca, before catching the sleeper train back to Cairo.

Back in Cairo, we enjoyed seeing the fabulous Egyptian Museum with loads of fantastic ancient treasure. We visited Coptic churchs,

and mosques with beautiful interiors,

and a minaret to climb with a panoramic view of Cairo.

We were very blessed to have a safe journey and all returned to our destinations without any disruption or problem. I had heard a lot about the poverty of Egypt but I'm sure I saw it with very different eyes than I would have had I not been living in Nigeria. It actually looked quite clean and functional in comparison. The trip was a wonderful break from the very real pressures of life in Lagos.


mistyb said...

WOW! I've wanted to see looks breathtaking

mistyb said...

Egypt looks breathtaking! I've wanted to go and see it. It looks so majestic!