The ship's Internet turned out to be too unreliable to upload posts, which means that I will be uploading various posts and notes later this week. I burned up ALL of my International data usage (not hard to do when you're the Geek Princess) and was left with the occasional small bits of free Internet via the ship's satellite. It was slow... almost as slow as some of the fast modems of 30 years ago.
A good story needs photos, don't you think?
So here we are, back in Cairo, at the Mena House Hotel. It's just after sunset, and that's Khafre's pyramid sitting on the plateau behind us, dividing the dark land from the indigo sky. We can't see the Sphinx from here, but I know it's watching us. The hotel sound system is playing classical music with an oriental theme. I can't identify either the piece or the composer, but it's a violin arabesque that flits and echoes around the walls of the 2nd floor lobby balcony where I'm sitting and typing.
The grounds of the hotel are green and lush - there's several pools and the walks are lined with flowering plants. Big fat bumblebees stumble and buzz contentedly here, and I saw the familiar pale green-white of a cabbage butterfly ghosting across the lawn. You can even see the occasional scarab beetle, looking just like a piece of jewelry, trundling along on its way to an unknown destination. There's not much traffic this weekend -- it's a four-day weekend here in Egypt and everyone who can has gone out of town. The hotel grounds are quiet and fairly cool, although the temperature is hovering at 100.
The hotel, like all hotels and public places, has guards (discretely armed) who control the gates as fiercely as any guardian in the ancient books called The Book of Gates. We don't feel threatened here -- the sense is that since military service is compulsory for young men, that they have to be given something to do while in the military, and keeping the flocks of trinket-sellers away from tourist hotels is one of the things that they do. More about that later.
Night has fallen while I was writing this blog and downloading my homework from the University of Manchester. I need to go back to the room and dress for dinner, leaving Khafre's "mansion of millions of years" to watch the brilliant night skies for me.