Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Cairo is a city of great contrast from the palaces of the extremely wealthy to the utter destitution of the poor. There are miles and miles of cemeteries unlike anything I have ever seen. They are not as we think of graveyards. Rather, they are small houses where the burial rooms are underground with mourning rooms over them above the ground. Homelessness is so severe that many people actually live in these cities of dead people.

We had lunch on the Nile River. It was beautiful, all except or the dead, bloating cow drifting down the river as we arrived. It is wild to imagine that this was the river that the baby Moses was put in the basket and sent downstream where he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter. This, of course, is also the land where Israel was in slavery for so many years prior to the Exodus. Likewise, this is the land where Mary and Joseph fled with the baby Jesus after being warned by an angel in a dream that Herod was seeking to kill Him.

Egypt has 80 million people and Cairo is the second largest city in the world with 20 million people. Only Mexico City is more populated. Cairo is also the second most polluted city in the world (again behind Mexico City). And words could not even begin to describe the traffic. In the rare cases where there are traffic signs or signals, they are obviously there only for decoration and are more optional than anything.

We visited the National Egyptian Museum. How amazing it was to look at artifacts that dated back to 2600 years before Christ and even older. Back in PA, we think something that is 200 years old is ancient. Today we saw items that were 4600 to 5000 years old. You have to remember that civilization as we know it started in the Egyptian and Babylonian Empires of old. We were able to see the full King Tut exhibit. This was the only Egyptian burial of a king that was not looted by grave robbers. It was found intact and contains items that are beyond any ability to describe.

We went to the Pyramids at Giza. Of the 93 pyramids in Egypt these are the three most known. They are magnificent. Now keep this in perspective. Abraham would have lived around 2000 BC. These were built in 2600 BC. That means that we stood at and looked at the same pyramids that Joseph of the Old Testament and Moses would have looked at as well when they were in Egypt. It was also fun to watch my dad ride a camel. We also saw the great Sphinx with the head of a man on the body of a lion. What a sight that was especially awesome with the pyramids in the background. Many of the group struggled with the multitude of vendors, many of them children, who really hounded you to buy their goods. However, for many of them this is their only livelihood.

After a stop at the Papyrus Institute where we were shown how Egyptian Papyrus is made and some additional shopping stops, we took a dinner cruise on the Nile River. No one from our church that was on this trip better ever complain again about the volume of the music at church. After we ate, most of us went up top to sit, talk and enjoy the Nile River while a brave few stayed downstairs for the belly dancer.

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