Mosques and minarets punctuated the skyline. I love their designs and patterns. I think they will always stimulate a sense of the exotic in the Western mind which is raised on steeples and such. The minarets are like beautiful needles, pointing to the heavens. Or they are simply phalluses, dominating symbols of a rather patriachical religion. We learned a lot about Islam and the Muslim world along the way and around every turn where I might have said at one moment ‘well, that part isn’t so bad’ – there’d be another line that would just make me feel backwards… Sigh… The extreme form of any religion is ultimately unhealthy and backwards, be it Judaism, Christianity, Muslimism… I would be interested to see what Taoist Extremists would be like though… Just really, really chill, man.
The train crackled along the tracks and, as the hour which we were supposed to arrive slipped further into the past, we began to wonder if we’d missed our stop. Then it seemed the train was going in the opposite direction. We had no idea where we were, really. The car attendant came and brought us breakfast (5 kinds of bread: two croissants, a roll, and two other forgettable balls of white flour + jam, cream cheese, butter, and tea).
Had we passed Luxor? We asked.
‘No, no,’ he assured us, ‘Luxor is soon. I will tell you!’
Around 10am we pulled into Luxor station which is really much nicer than Giza’s dirty platform. Luxor of course is riding on the coattails of history – it is the site of Thebes, a city that dates back to 3200 BC, and is considered the largest open air museum in the world (although some googling of that will turn up a bit of dissent on the matter) what with it’s plethora of ancient sites both in the city and the surrounding hills.
Like the airport and Giza and pretty much anywhere someone needs a ride we were greeted with a bevy of taxi drivers all asking us where we were headed. But one stood out – that smiling fellow holding the sign that said Nefertiti Hotel. He was our man, though we were now three hours late. Trains in Egypt leave on time but they rarely arrive as scheduled, apparently.
Our driver spoke better Spanish than English and we spoke better Spanish than Arabic so we had that and he quickly navigated us to the Nefertiti.
I’d found the Nefertiti Hotel online when I was looking for places to stay in Luxor and had contacted my friend Dela who was also going to Luxor (she and Brad were playing at the Giza event), who we’d be meeting up with later and she said she’d also had chosen the Nefertiti. It fell into the budget category but got big points for authenticity from anyone who stayed there. So there we were, checking into a room for three in the hotel lobby with it’s eight pointed star ceiling and clean wooden floors and trim. As Mohammed, the super friendly and kind manager, told us the details, Luna came down the stairs. She had contacted me on Facebook asking if she could join us along the way since she too was arriving earlier than many others. While she was well traveled, she said, Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country and a single woman traveling about isn’t always well received. Safety in numbers! I welcomed her to our group and she arrived at the Nefertiti the night before.
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