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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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"The Egypt Series"


A Foreign Destination

"Just think," said my sister, "a chance to see the world's oldest civilization, the Sphinx, the pyramids, Cairo and the Nile River." So, I made the down payment to the Adventure Travel Agency and signed the dotted line. It's always my sister that gets me into these things.

The Purple Suitcase

Iíve been getting ready to go for months Ė years, actually. Iíve been buying odds and ends as I think of them, little 3 oz bottles, new underwear (as you donít want customs officials to see your old underwear), a sunhat, travel clock, and all the other weird gear listed in the travel agencyís ďmust haveĒ list. Iím going to Egypt to see the pyramids, the trip of a lifetime. 

Travel Tips for Americans

Since I will be going on an international trip in a few months, I've been reading some travel tips about packing light, what to take, and such. One of the tips I came across regarding international travel was a bit surprising to me:

"Try not to look like an American."

The Traveling Pin Cushion

I couldn't believe it when I saw the list --- all those shots just to be able to travel? Some of these diseases have been eradicated for half a century. I was looking at the CDC website which recommends various immunizations needed for traveling outside the country. The list for Egypt is so extensive that it cracked my glasses to read it.

Egypt Adventure

The time was here for the big event, our adventure tour to Egypt. Day one was lost somewhere in a time warp due to the eight hour difference in time between the U.S. and Egypt. Before the warp, most of the day was spent wandering around JRK airport in New York trying to find Egypt Air.

First Impressions

My first impression of Egypt is from the mini-bus we take from the airport, all of us in the tour group packed inside like kids in a school bus with our luggage piled on top. Somehow I had imagined that Cairo would be in the middle of the dessert with rippling sand dunes all around like in the movie Lawrence of Arabia, but all I see is dirt. Dirt is everywhere -- on the trees, in the air, on cars, on streets, on everything moving or still.  

The Pyramids

We start our trip to Egypt at the logical place to begin, the pyramids. I somehow got the idea that there are three pyramids.  That's what I always see in pictures. However, can you believe it? There are hundreds, and they come in various sizes. We visited the Great Pyramid of Egypt, a massive construction over 4600 years old and an awesome monument to behold.

The Traffic of Cairo

When I was warned about traffic in Cairo, I thought in terms of Chicago or Atlanta. But the traffic in Cairo gives a whole new meaning to rush hour. There are often no white lines in the streets and cars rush about in a haphazard way, out bluffing each other. To wait or take turns is unheard of, and even pedestrians are not given the right of way but cross streets at their own peril.

Old Cairo

Today we are going on what is billed as a spiritual tour where we visit the oldest section of the city where some of the old churches of Cairo are, including the landmark Citadel.  Egypt is ninety percent Muslim and about ten percent Coptic Christian, with a small scattering of other religions. We visit a very old Christian church, a synagogue and a mosque.


The flight to Aswan is uneventful except for being questioned by security about a mirror in my purse. They also want to take my camera out of the bag and look at it. Honey, who probably fits some terrorist profile due to his beard, is searched at nearly every security stop. Strange that we are afraid extremist Muslims will blow up our planes and they are afraid Americans will blow up theirs.

Abu Simbel

Wow! What a day. We get up before the crack of dawn for breakfast and a three hour ride to see the ancient temples at Abu Simbel, probably the highlight of the trip as far as I'm concerned. On the way we stop to see dawn crack as the sun rises on the Sahara Dessert. Another time we stop to look at a mirage which appears to be water in the distance, but is only a reflection in the sun's heat. Abu Simbel is actually two temples build by Ramses II in honor of Queen Nefertiti. 

The Day of the Camel

Today is the exciting much anticipated day of the camel. We are to ride to an ancient monastery. Naturally, we have to take a boat across the river to get to the camels. Regardless of which side of the river you are on, you always have to cross it and walk the plank to get to shore where you climb the required three flights of steps to get to whatever it is that you are going to.

The Felucca

In the afternoon we went on yet another boat, a traditional sailboat called a felucca, which is a type of boat used for thousands of years. We sailed over to an island on our own wind speed, but coming back the wind died and we had to use a tow from a motorboat that was on standby just in case. The sailboat was interesting, but a bit scary as I've heard that they turn over easily.

Horus, the all-seeing eye

The Temple of Horus is supposed to be the second largest of the ancient temples and the best preserved. It appears much like the other temples -- or maybe I'm seeing so many Egyptian temples that they are all beginning to look alike. I know the scarf and bead vendors are all starting to look alike.


Two More Temples, Karnack & Luxor

Temples and more temples, Egypt is all about ancient temples. Karnack is actually a complex of temples but you can only tour one temple. It is larger than other temples, but smaller than I expected. It looked so big in the pictures. This is the temple with a long rows of sphinxes with ram heads, often seen in pictures. It has several tall spheres that are unique, but other than that, is much like the other temples. After a while, they all begin to blend into a blur of columns, sphinxes, and cartouches. It will probably be difficult to tell them apart in the pictures I am taking, I think, and later I will find I was right.

The Egyptian Farm

One of†the stops on our unending trip is at an Egyptian farmhouse where ten people live in the small flat-roofed concrete and mud brick home. The grandmother is the head of the household , but an older son talks to us about their life, while his young children run around playing with sticks in the dirt and the grandmother builds a fire in an outside oven. The son speaks excellent English.

Valley of the Kings

They are off to the Valley of the Kings running as fast as they can run with honey ahead by a nose. I overslept this morning and have to jump into the clothes I wore yesterday and go without makeup. Meanwhile, honey is chomping at the bit and raring to go -- to eat breakfast, that is.  

Frequently Asked Questions

We had a question and answer session one evening on the cruise and were free to ask the difficult questions -- and did. We were surprised that our Egyptian guide was willing to freely answer our questions, however, he was. While some cultural bias was probably unavoidable, he was in tune to American attitudes, having lived in the US as an exchange student, and from working with American tourists professionally. We felt that he tried to answer honestly and to the best of his ability, even when the questions were tough ones.

The Carriage Ride

Luxor is probably the prettiest city we have seen. Cairo is dirty and ugly with its stacks and stacks of unfinished houses. Aswan is prettier, but still has obvious poverty. Luxor has a glamorous feel with lights along the avenues in the trees, like white Christmas lights. There are spotlights on the temple at night and horses and carriages carry tourists sightseeing on cobblestone streets along the Nile River .

The Wrap Up

I like the Nile River. It is a beautiful and scenic river and as blue as the ocean. Rural women wash clothes on the riverbank, children paddle a rowboats in the river, and cattle drink from it. The river is the source of all water and all life in Egypt and the people, the culture, and the Nile all interact with each other.

Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss 


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Last Update
March 12, 2012

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