Friday, December 26, 2008

Egypt Day 7 – Tod, Moalla and El Kab

As there are no convoys, one is free to visit sites that were never possible before so we hired a driver and taxi to take us south today, to three very different sites. 

First to the Temple of Tod, in the middle of a village 25 kilometers south of Luxor. It took some finding, and we were entirely alone. There’s a Nile quay, processional dolmus with sphinxes, through a mini pylon then a Ptolmeic temple and small Roman kiosk. The sacred lake had also been excavated. The famous Treasure of Tod, now in the Cairo museum was found here.

On the way to Moalla, we had a near death experience when our taxi and a truck both raced to get through a checkpoint. Our wing mirror was broken clean off. The driving here is appalling.

Moalla is a beautiful  4000 year old tomb. We were clearly the first people to visit for a long time, as the guard was puzzled as to where we had purchased our ticket (Luxor Temple). The tomb was exquisite with naturalistic and relaxed images of rural life, cows, fishing, cooking, donkeys, birds, dogs, deer and a man holding a hare. There were boats with oars and a relief of the Governor and his wife above the deep rock-cut tomb. The pillars were carved from the rock itself. The afterlife here is depicted in simple terms and little has changed here since Pharonic times. The same donkeys, dogs and cows are to be seen within yards of these sites. One difference is that the desert wild life, mainly deer, onyx etc along wit their predators, have been hunted to extinction.

At El Kab we visited the first row of rock-cut tombs, with their barrel vaults. We then drove up the valley across the desert to the Kiosk of Amenhotep III, then walked over to rock outcrops where we saw lots of prehistoric carvings of deer and hunters then. We had to put the site guide in the boot of our car, as it was full. On the way back, stopping at another small kiosk and tomb, we found that he had disappeared from the boot! Then in the distance we saw his light blue jalaba. He had dropped his shoes, leapt off the back of the car and was running to catch us up! This site is at the mouth of a valley running through the mountains leading to ancient gold fields. The tombs and temples are covered in 19th century graffiti.

Our driver was stung for 20 LE by the police on the way back from El Kab – no wonder corruption is rife, if you can’t trust the police and army, then how do you complain? The Egyptian people are genuinely friendly and open but their corrupt leaders really do let them down.

Out for a meal in town, then a Calesh back to the hotel with my two sons – nice to get some cool night air and hear the sound of horse’s hooves.

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