Monday, January 7, 2008

Mangoes in Memphis (and other stuff)

Hola! Today is Christmas for the Coptic (and Greek Orthodox) Church- to celebrate, we played a round of Dirty Santa (White Elephant, where the group of players purchases random gifts and plays a swapping game) and, I have to say, Aunt Becky won. Her stuffed singing camel was highly sought after and many of us have purchased ones very similar to it since. The goal of the game was to remember Egypt and I feel that we did that, in our own American way.

Today was fantastic! We boarded the bus when most of you (and most of us) were still asleep and headed to Giza. We loaded off the bus and mounted CAMELS! For about 15 minutes, we walked/trotted/galloped towards the smallest of the three pyramids and observed some of the niceties of camelian society. They ARE spitters here, no matter how polite you think they should be. Also, if you ever need reminding of your camel experience, fellow Mangoes, just ask Steven. He does a good one.

We took pictures of the little pyramid and headed over towards the second of the three pyramids, the tomb belonging to King Cheop's son, Chip. After properly gawking like amazed tourists, we bundled in to see the Solar Boat, this huge pleasure boat found buried outside the Great Pyramid. The boat is preserved in pristine condition- it's thousands of years old and the grains and designs in the wood are still visible. The museum also housed samples of rope and instruments found on board, along with a selection of knives. Viewing this reminder of the "oh geez" part of Ancient Egypt reminds me that civilization, not simple existence, has been around for such a long time. Empires weren't even twinkles in the eyes of 6th grade boys when these were around. It's so awful- as in the full of awe definition- that it makes me look at what we do in a different light. Thanks, Tupper- your class obviously trained my brain-box to always keep thinking theoloically, even over break!

After we leave the boat museum, we pile together and make a human pyramid. Some random security dude stopped us and told us to stop making the pyramid in the middle of this large and spacious desert spot. We tipped him when we left for looking the other way and not interfering while we ground Kevin's palms into the dirt and fumbled to balance everyone together. It was an awesome job- whoo, Mangoes!

Obviously, we took pictures of the Great Pyramid. It was big. Also the Sphinx, which was also big.

We went to lunch at a country club near our post lunch destination- the Red Pyramid. We climbed up the face of the pyramid through a twisty maze-path and descended a zillion feet at a 26 degree angle. My legs hurt after all this. The room was high and built with a roof that resembled stairs- afterwards we climbed up stairs into the inner burial chamber. The whole place had a certain... aroma... that made the experience, while awesome, different because we all breathed through our shirts. We climbed back up the shaft and down the pyramid. This is the oldest working pyramid. We were in it. We were in a pyramid. IN A PYRAMID!

We finally stopped at Memphis, the first capital anywhere in the world, and saw a gigantic statue of Ramses II. He was wearing fairly standard Pharaoh garb and his body proportions were extremely exaggerated. His wrists and forearms were the same size as his wrists, emphasizing the artistic style of the human body- perfect proportions that art was unable to successfully capture for thousands of years, even in Ancient Egypt, where the government's view of religion, creation, and perfection was ultimate.
Back to the hotel, Dirty Santa and off to sleep. We fly to Luxor at 3:30 AM. Wish us luck and safe journeys!

1 comment:

WFUDS Egypt said...

The After Life in Ancient Egypt is an interesting one. The pyramids are one example of this point. During the Old Kingdom, the Pharoahs wanted to be remembered as great men who left a mark in this world. Yet,the pyramids built enable us to get a glimpse of what Egyptians believed concerning their present and future life to come. They believed the present life was very insignificant and the life to come was one a great importance. This theology resembled to me the after life viewpoints of the slaves of the African Diaspora in America. Slaves too believed the life to come would be better than the present one. Yet, this view point was influenced heavily on their harsh conditions. However,I think their African roots played a role in what they believed. In other African cultures, those who die are great ancestors who still live on.

Egyptians believed to travel to the after life, one needed transportation to get to heaven. Thus, a solar boat was created and placed into the pyramids. These boats consisted of a crew that would help you travel to the other world and some important items you would need. This ideology then made me think about the use of chariots carrying persons from the Old Testament and even slaves in the African Diaspora to heaven. This concept was borrowed from the Pharonic religion.

I am convinced the Egyptians were very instrumental in shaping our viewpoint of what the After Life can and will be like. Their insight has influenced other religious and cultural beliefs about death.