Day 12- Hannah
Pain for Gain
Our last day on the Egyptian tour started off with almost a heart attack for me. In the midst and hustle of our train ride and return to Cairo, I accidentally left my camera on the train. Unfortunately, I realized this only when we arrived back at the Indiana Hotel in Cairo. I hurriedly told my tour leader about my situation and he told me that there was probably no way that we could recover it. But I think he saw the distraught on my face that ignited a twinge of pity as well as compassion on my poor soul and Viktor, our driver and Luqman left in a hurry to see if they could recover my camera.
They were probably gone for about an hour but it really did seem like a lifetime. The entire time, my heart rate probably increased exponentially by the second and I started to feel nauseous because I was so nervous. The only thing that comforted me was knowing that I had uploaded the majority of my pictures onto my laptop so not every picture would be lost. Finally, Luqman walked back into the room and by God's grace and great blessing, he walked in with my camera in tact! He told me of how they had to run to get to the central train station and how they had just BARELY got there before the cleaning crew had wiped out the entire train. All in all, the chances I would get my camera were absolutely minuscule and it was truly a miracle that I got it back. So the lesson here is that miracles can happen and never leave your camera in a train in Egypt. I also am beyond grateful and will have to name my children after these wonderful men who helped me out.
After my heart palpitations subsided and my breathing became normal, we boarded the lovely Topdeck bus and headed to Saqqara to see the first pyramids built in Egypt. Our excursion to Saqqara first started at a museum which included amazing artifacts including the most well preserved mummy found. Then we headed off to see Zoser's Funerary Complex aka the Step Pyramid as well as the other burial grounds of other Egyptian Kings. I know I keep saying how taken aback and amazed at all the sites we visit and see but it is only because I think there really are no words that can adequately describe their magnificence and history. The only thing that I have made that is still standing is a clay pot I made for my mother when I was in kindergarten for Mother's Day and believe me, it is no where near the caliber and greatness of these Egyptian artifacts. Thus, I really do marvel at the technique and brilliance the ancient Egyptians had for constructing objects and beautiful, aesthetically pleasing artifacts at that, that lasted thousands and thousands of centuries. All in all, I just want to give a big HOLLA to this amazing culture and civilization.
We spent about an hour walking around Saqqara and seeing all the various pyramids before we headed back to the bus to go to the famous Khan al-Khalili Markets. These markets are often called a tourist trap because of all the heckling, and believe me did we get heckled, but they also have a lot of history behind them. These markets go back to the 14th century when merchants and artisans came to the Khan to trade. You could find all sorts of goods here and you can still find a myriad of things here even today. Thus, Luqman and I thought this would be the perfect place to buy some last minute souvenirs and gifts for our friends and family. We were making our way around and visiting all the shops when I spotted something that looked like a shopping mall inside the outdoor markets. I convinced Luqman to go in and when we were inside I realized that the mall was like a labyrinth and when we came back outside, we were pretty much completely lost. However we figured if we kept walking we were bound to run into the main road again so we continued shopping. Pretty soon it was close to meeting time and we were nowhere near anything familiar or the main square in which we were supposed to meet our group. I started to panic, but Luqman seemed to know where he was going so I just huffed and puffed trying to keep up with him. We went up and down many windy and twisty alleys and I kept getting a nagging feeling that we weren't going the right way, but Luqman has a good sense of direction so I thought nothing of my feelings and just kept going. We came to a bridge and after we crossed it, I knew we really were not going the right way and I stopped my friend and we both looked at each other and knew we were lost and our group had probably left us. We traced our steps back and ran into a police officer who kindly pointed us in the right direction. After we got to the right plaza, I found the location of our hotel in my guide book (which btw Luqman always gives me a hard time about for having constantly but saved us in this situation) and we bartered a 20 Egyptian Pound ride with a taxi driver back to the hotel.
We finally arrived back at the hotel much to our as well as our tour leader and group members' delight. This was our last night in Cairo and I was glad that we didn't spend a good bit of it lost in the Khan markets. Exhausted, I decided to take a nap before going to the roof for last night drinks with my mates. However, I woke up an hour later to a horrible feeling in my stomach and this was not because of a lost camera or being lost in the markets. I suspected I was coming down with whatever ailed Luqman on his birthday because as he described it, the feeling I had in my stomach was the worst pain ever. All I wanted to do is curl up in fetal position and lie down. I wish I could say that my condition got better and the pain subsided right away. Unfortunately, I was sick like this all night and all morning and all day and night the following day. This was not the ending I had hoped for my Egypt adventure, but alas, not even a terrible stomach virus could take away the wonderful memories that I had experienced. And on the bright side, coming down with the stomach virus made it fool proof that I would never forget my time in Egypt. But alas, remember everyone, learn from me: watch what you eat and be respectful of the gods or they will smite you.