The Artwork of Michael Divine

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Egypt – Luxor, Giza, Alexandria, and The Great Convergence

January 2nd, 2013

Our unintended guide dropped us off there at the Great Pyramid. There was an argument about tips – it’s just never enough – and we went off to buy tickets – 100 pounds – $17 each – and there was no way we were coming this far and not going in the king’s chamber of the Great Pyramid. We waited around for a while, wandering about and then the time came to enter – it’s closed for a half hour every day – and we were third in line. We made our way into the 6 or 7 million tons of limestone blocks, heading up up up… steep narrow passages that opened onto passages of perfectly aligned blocks with twenty foot ceilings – and not a hieroglyph to be seen – not one carving or drawing. And then we emerged into the kings chamber. I don’t know what I expected – it was a clean black box of a room. nothing on the walls and a powerful echo – if you hummed you could feel it deep inside you. It’s a powerful echo chamber. In the end, there’s much debate as to the reasoning for why it was built. No one really knows, it seems. There’s conjecture and different facts point to certain pharaohs from 4500 years ago but none the less… even that is loose in it’s reasoning. It was an interesting fifteen minutes. People keep coming in and leaving by the same narrow passageway while we sat on the edge of the room. Some fellow came by – some Egyptian guy who seemed a bit neurotic and was trying to control the ebb and flow inside the chamber – and he put an agate ball in our hands. later dela and I purchased it for what Violet considered to be an excessive amount of money (more than $2).

It took a while to exit – trying to pass others who are out of shape and claustrophobic down a 45 degree walkway with low ceilings – a tight space to be certain. Once outside, a small boy appeared, offered us postcards. I bought one for a pound of some camels and the pyramids to send to my parents. As we wound down out of there we felt pretty complete. There was, besides, a truly special event to get back for – the dinner, Sufi performance, and party that would be happening for us all up on the plateau over looking the pyramids – away from the people,  no one else – just us in the desert (with a substantial amount of security)

So back to the hotel. But wait! First stop was lunch at the luxuriously appointed Sultan-like Mena House, built in 1869, restaurant where we ran into Tamer and friends and had a lovely light lunch of… some kind of mix of appetizers or something of the sort. Afterwards, we ordered cappuccinos which were delicious and happily stronger than the thick yet weak Turkish coffees we’d been drinking.

After showering and changing back at the hotel, we all gathered in the lobby – excited for what the night would bring. Cocktails were had. Conversation and effervescence. After days of maintaining at least some modesty and decorum as far as dress and actions went in this rather conservative country, many of slipped into our more… open selves. We like to play! We like to have fun and dress nice but show our shoulders, have a drink! Let women show their legs! We have no shame for such things… Like I said earlier, even liberal Egypt is conservative elsewhere. As the sun set, the buses were ready and we all climbed aboard half a dozen tour buses waiting to bring us to the Giza plateau, away from the city, surrounded by desert and the Pyramids. No one is allowed in the Pyramid area after it closes. It’s hard to express how special this all was – and how privileged we felt. I give great thanks to the DoLab and Tamer for pulling this all together with such style. I don’t think anyone else could have done it quite as well as they did.

The buses pulled through the gates of the Great Pyramids of Giza area, through layers and layers of security guards shouting directions to one another and granting permission to enter, lights flashing here and there. The ragged edges of road and building faded away to the gentle curves of sand as we rose up out of the city which became a sea of lights below and away from us. Now just one flashing blue light on the back of a motorbike led us along. The Pyramids shone in bright white lights – three great monuments built by man totaling six to seven tons of stone, thousands of years of history, pointing to something we can only ever guess.

O wait. The bus stopped. We seemed to be headed away from the glowing tents we were meant for. O wait… Signaling outside. Shouts. The bus backed up, turned. We laugh – it’s because they involved Moontribe, said Violet –  we have a penchant for getting lost in the desert. All six buses and an attendant train of cars and minivans turned and headed down a different road and with that we pulled up to the outside edge of a gathering.

Smells and smoke from outdoor barbeque grills, bright lights, people talking, running, moving, we and our tribe – this tribe that is an amalgamation of a thousand forms and modes of dress and belief systems – that tries to filter down to the essence or build up to something else – of openness, acceptance, respect, and love. There were camels and a bevy of shisha pipes waiting to be puffed and we rounded the corner and there on the plateau, overlooking the pyramids, surrounded by security and camel riders is a work of art – this Bedouin style tent all decked out in arabesque patterns, stretched overhead, carpets of the same, low golden brass tables shining in the lights surrounded by pillows, low chairs, a wide stage, a carpeted dancefloor, a long buffet, soft glowing lights overhead, and dozens of attendants waiting to be of service. We all chose seats and filtered in and around the dancefloor.

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The Artwork of Michael Divine

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