Everyone has learnt something about Egypt, but it's not until you do the tour that you realise the impact the Egyptians made on this part of the planet. Most of the days we spent here were around 44 degrees Celsius. And it's approaching their winter!
The number of temples and structures devoted to the dozens of gods, is overwhelming. The fact that it's difficult to find a flat surface without heiroglyphs is also overwhelming. It seems that the Egyptians, whoever they were and wherever they came from, did nothing else but build massive stone structures and then write all over them.
Their engineering and mathematics must have been outstanding, but they didn't leave evidence of much else.At one stage it crossed my mind that we had paid a lot of money to see a lot of broken down old rocks. But every cent was worth it. It's something everyone needs to do once.
Our guide, Osama is an Egyptologist who knows his subject inside out and is also very passionate about it. Of course he is, he's Egyptian. How could anyone live here and not be interested in the history? Osama provided extensive overviews of each and every antiquity as well as held the group of about 34 together from a logistical point.
The townships we saw in Egypt are almost identical with other poor muslim Arab countries; run-down, dirty places with rubbish everywhere. Most muslim countries don't seem to work well. Author Ayan Hirsi Ali in her recently released book "Nomad" attributed this to the lack of critical thinking ability and a lack of motivation found in Islam that attributes everything that happens as the "will of god" (Inshállah) and waits for him, her or it to do the heavy lifting. Despite thousands of years, they still don't seem to have learnt that depending on someone else to do things, even Allah, is risky and the result shows in the lack of societal progress.
What I find most remarkable is that the Egyptians were obviously excellent civil engineers but believed so strongly in the supernatural as to spend most of their time, effort and resources building and preparing for an afterlife not founded on rationale or evidence ... humankind's continuing need to find a purpose for being and an explanation for the universe that has perpetuated throughout recorded history and resulted in thousands, if not tens of thousands of religous myths, even by today's enlightened masses.
The question foremost on my mind is why, after the Egyptian civilization crumbled and after the Roman era, why has this great country become a second-rate country? Maybe if I read the book on Egypt that Christina bought, I'll find out, although I feel I already know at least part of the answer.
At the time of writing, we have spent our first day at Istanbul ... an apparently much more civilised, clean and functional place than Egypt.