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EGYPT/PETRA TRIP - November 2-22, 2008

SUNDAY, 11/2/08: Taxi rings at 3:01PM, just as I'm despairing at Spider. Give the EGYPTIAN driver $40, which he accepts for the $37 fare. Airport by 3:45, not that busy, contrary to Spartacus. Check in quickly, getting frequent-flyer miles, theoretically, and there's Dale on line! To security at 4:04 and through by 4:09. Gate at 4:11. Dale bends my ear about Zimbabwe to 4:42! No worry about time passing! At 5:30 Dale goes to board in back in row 55. I'm on line at 5:40 and board 6PM, pissing old woman in 23A, and window IS in front of wing, but EVEN with engine-front, so I want to change my seat on the way back. My left big TOE starts to hurt. LOTS of leg room, but the woman has PILES of pillows, bags, and a water bottle (which I take when she leaves it!). 9:15 flight announced at 6:40. Back out 6:42. 7:08 we're PARKED with a gangway up to our door! Some problem with a mother with five kids, one that Dale says was born yesterday, but some woman says it was two weeks old. What a HASSLE! Eat biscotti at 7:33, hungry at last. Back out again at 8:25; I do ENDLESS sudoku. Off at 9PM, to applause from passengers. Lights below to 9:15, then dark. NO map on the lousy little TV screens, nothing at seats. Dinner at 10PM, poor beef, lots of rice, no alcohol so I have apple juice. Pee at 10:25, woman gone somewhere, and take ALL night pills at 10:35. Try to sleep at 10:40. Doze off, look at watch 11:40 and see a bit of Halifax per the map that finally comes on.

MONDAY, 11/3/08: Watch-glance at 12, 1, and 2 something. Wake at 3:40 to light outside (pillow gone) and everyone bitches that I should close shade. Possibly over Spanish farmland and snow-topped Pyrenees, but no map to check. At 5:10 they say we land in an hour and a half, and map comes on to show we'd gone past Crete, which I saw a lot of without knowing what it was, mostly deserted. Over blue Mediterranean. Hot towel at 5:25, 2-3 ships, far land in north. Italy? Greece? Sardinia? At 6:01AM we're one hour from landing at 2:01PM and I change watch. Long wait to pee at 1:28. The pack rat to my right is busy shuffling her crates of possessions. Ships below. Start down 1:37. NO entry cards left, but stewardess gives me one at last. #1 1:49 blocky towns. To #17 landing at 2:03, 27 degrees C. Off plane and onto bus 2:18. 2:24 visa is $15, and I go to airport lobby at 2:34: no one there. At 3:14 I finally go in the BACK way: they're waiting for lost luggage. Dale goes to john. On bus 3:26. Bus goes 3:30 to Semiramis Intercontinental. We meet at 5:15, dinner at the Blue Nile, then to bed. 5.5 Egyptian pounds per $1. Water from driver is two bottles for $1, otherwise $2/bottle. NO ice, salads, water, or even FRUIT OR JUICE, which I hesitate to believe. Cairo has 18 million people, Gizeh across the river 15 million! To Semiramis 4:14. Pictures to #23 of Nile and surroundings from room and elevator lobby. Down at 5:02 and meeting on floor 4 at 5:30, one couple last, but Odyssey pays for their drinks. Thursday $35 city tour, including lunch, 10AM to 3PM. Aswan tour: on boat: birds, gardens for $20, all CASH. NEXT Friday a balloon for $125 over Luxor. Credit card OK, OAT charges $165. Antinil for $1 is as good as imodium. Book for 60P. Ship needs tips. Bus to Blue Nile ship in Nile. Tomorrow 8:15 in lobby, breakfast in Night and Day Restaurant from 6AM. AVOID fresh juice! Leave for dinner at 6:12, over at 7:44, good meats, views, two glasses of red wine thanks to Dale. Tarek's cell number is 0101497704. To room 8:02PM. Sleep quickly, up about midnight to type in file 7, back to doze and think and partly dream.

TUESDAY, 11/4/08: 0:14AM: It's even confusing typing the date! Wake with dreams which segue into half-awake fantasies of organizing a sexy-cock contest, with first prize of $1000, everyone paying $50 for admission, and surely I'd get 20 guys to pay that to see people parade beautiful cocks in front of them. But I have to record SOMETHING, and I'm not sure what time it is and am puzzled to see 0:07 displayed on a digital clock-face. Anyway, I have to pee. I'm willing to let the control-freak aspect of Dale get us up in time to fix ourselves up (my shoes sure stink, but I just took a shower YESTERDAY) (well, no, it WAS Sunday), and I'm not sure what time it is on my body-clock: midnight here is six [seven, in reality] hours earlier in NYC, so it'd be 6PM, and where AM I at 6PM when it comes to sleeping? I'm now thirsty, but only a little tired. Anyway, sadly, I didn't really get the dreams down, but it's only the first day, Tarek is a GOOD guide, the group seems not bad, and I'm happy that the anxiety of LOOKING FORWARD to the trip is over, despite the fact that the plane-ride over was a disaster in its own right, though everything worked out eventually. AND I've already gotten almost four hours of sleep, and surely I can get another four hours before Dale gets up at 6:30 to shower, which I'll probably follow by MY shower, just to be clean for him. And drink some of my water by my bed---and sleep. Up 6:30, Dale hogging bathroom to 6:55. I wash face, to breakfast 7:05-7:30, try for bank, get 100P from HSBC card in desperation: I took LECITHIN rather than FISH OIL! Up to type to 8:06 and get downstairs to meet group. I'm the only one who SITS to wait for the group to gather. Bus goes at 8:20. #32 Egyptian Museum facade 8:32. $12 entry, paid by Odyssey. In on the dot of 9AM, Tarek leading us to important things until other groups gather in front of them, then he cops out: not showing the incredible royal chair because it was socked in crowds, for instance. Revelation for me was Min, the god of male fertility, holding onto his prominent erection in a half-dozen wonderful examples hidden on a high shelf in a non-central room. The Tut exhibit was much better than I remember, and the whole place seemed MUCH bigger than before, because after we were let loose at 11:15AM I wandered into many more rooms on the second floor, paid my 100P for the Mummy room to see Rameses III, Rameses IV, Rameses V, Rameses IX, a High Priest, Queen Nodjmet, Queen Hanowant, Prince Djedptahiusankh, Queen Maatkarr with pet baboon, and Queen Nesikhonsu, 11:36-11:50, not QUITE worth $20, but at least I can say I SAW it. Some of them were QUITE lifelike, even the queen whose face was so stuffed with ingredients that her cheeks exploded, but the museum fixed. Interesting prior animal mummies, where they administered a turpentine enema until the innards dissolved after about six days, and were then flushed out and the body stuffed with filler. Two of these were enormous crocodiles, one with a baby from its mouth about three inches long for contrast. I got tired, right toe hurting, but I kept on anyway. Out at 12:02PM to find Tarek waiting with my camera only, and I was the last to the bus at 12:04, though he courteously remarked that I wasn't late. Bus to "The Place" for lunch, pretty awful buffet with beef full of gristle and fat, chicken with a gloopy sauce and another part mostly skin and bones, and an unidentifiable appetizer mush and a weak yogurt mixture, and an extra charge for anything other than water. The waiter somehow spilled my glass, avoiding MOST of my pants. Desserts were somewhat better: I risked orange, good, for breakfast and more orange, VERY dry, for lunch---and the cake tasted as if it might have been out for a day or two. Leave with picture #36 of "The Place" at 1:30PM, which doesn't look like a boat from this angle. Off bus 1:45 to take 1900-year-old Roman Fort wall at the Holy Family Church, or the Suspended Church, and take to #52 at 2:10PM. Inside St. Sergus, no photos, at 2:30 and pay $4 for a map of their travels and a folding postcard of their "shelter" in the basement into which we weren't allowed. To Ben Ezra Synagogue, nothing special, to 2:55. [Tomorrow wake-up call at 6AM and meet at bus at 7AM for ride to pyramids.] To crowded mall, same old junk 3:25-4:05. To hotel at 4:30, leaving Ester off to return to the Egyptian Museum, and change $60 for 3350P, then look for the pharmacy and find Omega-3, twenty 1000mg capsules for 14.50P, so I get two, at least having SOME to ward off disastrous HDL. To room to shit fairly nicely and to look over balcony at traffic below, while Dale chatters endlessly on about how this differs from India and California, and then I beg to type notes, finishing now at 5:52, I THINK getting him to agree to dinner at the Italian restaurant, Pane Vino, on the second floor, at 6PM. He tries to turn down the coolth in the room, but it still seems pretty cool, just as I had the luck to sit under the direct-on-me air conditioning at "The Place" for lunch. My eyes closed a few times on the bus, but I was happy to be wearing my hat against the sun so Tarek couldn't see me nod off. Still feel like I need a good night's sleep, and getting up at 6AM means getting to bed WELL before 9PM, trying to erase the thought that now, at 5:55PM, it's just before noon in NYC and many people have already voted. Up from dinner at 7:24PM, good Veal Milanese and passable French fries, starting with a very good caponata on fried-bread sticks and ending with tiny bricotta (I know that's not the right word, but----biscotti!). I'm just so tired I'd determined to get right to bed. Get to bed at 7:40PM. The phone rings at 8:15 and asks for my address in order that they might "send me a complimentary cup," which I don't understand, but I may have been sleeping before (and Dale said the phone rang once just after I'd gone to bed last night, and also rang once when I was in the bathroom before dinner, but neither of us answered so it was another mystery) and I seemed not to have much trouble falling to sleep after that.

WEDNESDAY, 11/5/08: 5:38AM: Woke again when the clock said its mysterious 0:52, and then again at 2 something when I went to pee and maybe shit a little bit too. Back to bed for a melange of napping, dreaming, and thinking (mostly negative thoughts: will my big toe hurt again today, and what's wrong with it? Will I be tired today, and why? Will Dale think of endless topics to bore me with?). Maybe look at my watch a few more times, maybe sleep more than I stay awake, but I'm in an in-between state of "being in Cairo and trying to enjoy a vacation" and "being I'm not quite sure where, not quite sure whether I'm having a good time or not." Then Dale puts the light on at 5:13AM and asks if I want to use the bathroom, and I decide to bite the bullet and say I want to slip into the shower. It turns on easily enough, adjusts OK, and I wash my hair quickly and shower every part of my body I can easily reach, but just once, to "get it over with," and get out to a totally fogged mirror that I wipe with my hand. Comb my hair and put on a bathrobe after putting the enormous towel over the rack to be used again, if I wish, and get out at 5:27AM to hear Dale rattle on about how he'll shut the alarm off three minutes before it's due to ring, and since we're due at the bus at 8AM tomorrow, rather than 7AM today, he should reset the alarm now, and what time should he do it: this time would be too early, this time would be too late, so he settles for 6:15AM and I'm obliged to mumble something like my consent, having no idea what tomorrow morning will bring. Debate for a split second what it would be like to simply stay in the room today and pass up the pyramids, which I HAVE seen before, but there's something like a Pyramid Museum on the schedule, as well as what sounded like a Saqara Museum or Village or something possibly new, and the hint of another surprise, so the thought was instantly dismissed, though I dearly wished I would know when I would settle into my usual interest in what's going on during the day and not just count the minutes until we're supposed to be back in the security of the bus with someone else making the decision of where and when to go. Maybe it's still a form of jet-lag, maybe it's the thought of being cooped up with Dale for the next 18 days in uncertain destinations and adventures, and maybe it's partly finding almost NO ONE in the group the least bit interesting, except possibly Ester from Verona who went back to the Egyptian Museum when we all opted to return to the hotel at 4:20PM yesterday. Some relief to get into clean socks and shorts, hoping to avoid that awful smell that the perfume only coats, rather than stops, and wondering how my system will tolerate a mere two grams of fish oil daily until the end of the trip: but surely nothing can go HORRIBLY wrong in that short a time? Dale rattles around in the bathroom now at 5:48AM; we're sure to go down to breakfast at the dot of 6AM since he says it "gets so busy" when it's any time later. I can hardly tell the difference, though at least we won't have to wait in line and maybe won't even have to share our table. I'm not very hungry, but happy to learn we'll be here one or two more nights so I don't have to worry about repacking for a bit. Also have the idea we don't go to THAT many hotels, and there's only one or two nights at the airport hotel between two differing destinations. Now to perfume my shoes before putting them on, and add deodorant to my armament against odor. 6:31AM: STILL not really connected to anything: my body, my surroundings, my frame of reference. Early to breakfast and a second omelet with onions and cheese (no ham or bacon visible) (in fact, no cold cuts of ANY kind!), with two tiny slices of sweet bread, and then a risky serving of fruit: a banana which split down the side before it would break from the top, fruit salad that was tasty and possibly the most dangerous from the point of view of infectious waters present, a tiny slice of mango, and three slices of nicely moist orange, which I hope might be the safest. Dale's EXTREME paranoia is beginning to operate in the vacuum where once my brain had control. Waited a long while for hot chocolate, and then was asked twice if I wanted more. No offer of water at the table, though there were water glasses there, and Dale had nothing at all to drink, though he did take a piece of canned pear and slipped a banana into his pocket. Sneeze multiple times while typing, though that might be because of the morning sun streaming over my shoulder as I type. Sun rose about 6AM in a VERY smoggy sky: not that much traffic, but busy nonetheless. Now at 6:40 Dale volunteers to pay cash for my afternoon tour tomorrow, "to make us more even in cash." Tarek says we should buy our books in Aswan, not here. He also made a point of someone buying a cup for a STARTING price of $15, which she "bargained" down to $7, which he said he could get for $4 because HE knew how to bargain. He slipped a NUMBER of small bills to a NUMBER of guards, bystanders, and police, and Dale mentions the shit-colored-suited guy from the front of the bus (whom Tarek DID describe as a security person) who would "interrupt his train of thought" by putting his arm around his shoulder and talking about how he was there to make sure Dale was safe on the street. Our own personal minders. The smog outside is still dense: hope it doesn't apply to the countryside. My right toe hasn't made itself known as painful yet, but we've hardly walked: only from the Night and Day breakfast room to the elevator (where a maid was busily Windexing the mirrored door) to the room. Down to bus and leave at 7:12AM after Ellie has to leave bus to go back to her room to get her CAMERA! Pyramids are 149 meters, 136 meters (though it seems higher because it's built on higher ground) and 66 meters high. #65 7:43AM dust and smog and pyramid 1 (Cheops), almost submerged in surrounding buildings, SO different from my memory of its splendid isolation the first time I saw it, needing a camel to take us the distance to the base of it. 227 meters on a side. Progress from pyramid at Meidun (bent pyramid?) to Djoser (step pyramid) to Cheops, Khefron, and Mycinerus #5, a hundred years between. I ask Tarek about Hawass-discussed LARGER pyramid totally torn down, about 4 km north, but he talks only of Meidun FORTY kilometers north. Have to get my note on it. #78 last of pyramid 1 at 8:23. #80 from "panorama" spot 8:35, QUICK through all of them. Leave at 8:53 by bus to pyramid 3. #92 granite base of 3 at 9AM. Leave 9:07 to Solar Boat Museum, impressive inside and out, but rather jarring right against back of pyramid 1. Boat is 4560 years old, yet must have been mostly reconstructed; enormous granite blocks covering it both over pit where it was discovered and in a row outside. It was MEANT to be inside pyramid 1; each stone ten tons. Boat is cedar from Lebanon 42 meters long. To #107 Solar Boat Museum to 9:37. Discover that my camera time is still right from my Spain/France trip. 10:12 off at Sphinx. To #135 to 10:40 all around it, not nearly as "touchable" as I remember before. Tour Valley Temple and leave for Memphis at 11:28. #137 Rameses II in Memphis Museum, built just for this colossus, at 11:38. All statues of Rameses II, whose mummy Tarek insists is in Royal Mummy exhibit, and when I say not, "Maybe being restored." #147 Memphis Sphinx, said to be alabaster, but really travertine, said to be second largest, from 1200 BC. To #150 at 11:57. To lunch at Sakkara Restaurant, huge tent, at 12:07, serenaded by pipes and drums and a baby lion, charge of $1 to take a photo with his head-dressed keeper. Good lamb kibbee, bony chicken, lots of condiment liquids with the breads, and water for the table. Our group of eight and four others only going to Jordan. Out at 12:53 to Tomb of Mereruka, no photos, at 1:17. Out of Slant Tomb of Titi, which had first 70% of the Book of the Dead, marvelously preserved though tourists insist on TOUCHING the hieroglyphs, and no one bothers to tell them NOT to. Cramped down the incline, and then stoop through a long passage, everyone saying they'll be sore tomorrow. Thank goodness it's not even hot inside, though it may warm up through the day. Tarek says that NOW starts the height of the season, through April, when it gets too hot. To Mereruka tomb at 1:38 just down a wooden boardwalk that still doesn't prevent sand from getting into my holey shoes, DAMN! Forgot to mention "duck feet" (shoe covers for walking through Solar Boat museum). Pay $4 for Sakkara book with lots of text and $1 for 20 postcards, along with $2 for five postcard stamps. That goes to 2:22. Drink lots of water; toe hurts again. To Step Pyramid at 2:26, 4750 years old---oldest stone construction. To #170 of LOTS of shots of mini-Karnak entry and plaza and camels on horizon and climbing on wall and snapping pictures like crazy to 2:48. I'm TIRED of climbing, including in and out of bus. Bus goes at 3PM. To Oriental Carpet School, large room with only six-seven people working, and I again tell Dale my theory that ONLY these are handmade, all the others for sale have been machine-made and SOLD as handmade. #173 carpet of lovely colors at 3:19, to #174. Have 7-Up, pee, wash hands, go to air-conditioned bus to read New York magazine while people gather to leave, Ester buying a carpet at least: "Two for the price of one." Bus goes at 3:54. Tomorrow 8:15AM bus. Close eyes to 4:16 on way back, open them in midst of city traffic. To hotel at 4:42. Have to get new room key since everyone seems locked out; that even happened to some yesterday. At 4:53 Dale agrees to a ludicrously early dinner to prepare for ludicrously early departure by plane on Friday. We try Night and Day, but they're not ready, putting us off to Tea Palace, which doesn't have anything interesting to eat though steward insists he can bring us ANYTHING to eat in his uncomfortable coffee-table type restaurant. To Cafe Corniche for quiche which starts tasting strongly of salmon, but then tones off. I'm happy to have Sakkara Gold beer for 26P. Have to start keeping track of what we pay for each other, since Dale gives me $4 for Sakkara book, cashing one 100-pound note rather than two for our two books. Long time to order, then quick service and I pay with Visa, 26% taxes and service to 6PM, then I decide we should walk, crossing bridge over Nile to investigate orange-lit restaurant along opposite bank, along dirty street to boat-landing, cross that street for a nice park inaccessible from the street, with a small kiosk for food served to pairs sitting on benches along park paths. Walk to 7PM, tired, and get to bed at 7:37PM, vowing to pack in morning. Wake at 11-something for a dream.

THURSDAY, 11/6/08: 1:38AM: So happy to record a positive dream, and can't resist adding that I'm pleased my toe wasn't as sore yesterday as it was the day before, and just DELIGHTED that Obama's clearly won the election, and now slightly wondering how many seats in Congress the Democrats have won. Since people stayed up late last night listening to the results, I'm fairly certain someone will know the answers tomorrow if I ask around. Look at clock at 2, 3, doze. Try Actualism that really doesn't work, and startled to wake next at 5:12AM, almost ten hours in bed! Type in bathroom after finding my talc is in cabinet in room, but spray socks so they won't smell. Try to see if Dale's awake when I finish this at 6:02: he's not. Get last bill to start list, and change shirt. Figure bills and powder crotch to 6:18, really hungry for breakfast. Put things into proper bags, and Dale reminds me that I paid him for the $4 book yesterday, so it's only two meals he owes me. Down to breakfast 6:41-7:12, sitting along a wall, taking cold cuts and cheeses, then deciding on a pancake, not very good, and tried something like cranberry juice, but didn't finish it. Got a tureen of hot chocolate, rather than just being poured some. Felt full, and shit some more, feeling good so far, still surprised that I remained in bed so long, but at last feel rested, though it'll depend how my feet feel in shoes, having worn my slippers to breakfast without any scowlings. Didn't talk to anyone else from the group, some of whom were sitting together as usual. Find that Obama won 52 million versus 48 million, but still no mention of how Congressional seats went. 349-163 electoral votes just mentioned on CNN. Now at 7:53 we have to wait to load the bus at 8:15, me still not having the courage to ask Dale what he thinks of the election. But then I do, and he says he's not the MOST pleased with the election, but he'll settle for what comes next, so obviously he voted and hoped for McCain, which is about what I would figure. No Congress knowledge (they say some seats are still being contested) on the bus at 8:12. Leave at 8:14. [Tomorrow, 2:15 wake-up call, luggage out at 2:30, meet downstairs at 2:55 and get a breakfast box on the way to the airport. And it seems that SOME flight is being replaced by a BUS, since it didn't make sense to sit in the airport for 5 hours when the bus would only take 3-4 hours.] #175 Mukattam Hill where 30 died when part of it collapsed. Off bus at 8:37 and #178 Muhammed Ali Mosque 8:42. Citadel covers 244 acres. 1896: Palace changed from Citadel to town. #183-4 Muhammed Ali tomb 9:18. Out of mosque 9:30. Mill. On bus 9:45. 9:57 start city tour, Ester and Ellie off bus since they're not taking tour, and Tarek helps them into a cab. #193-5 October 6 War Museum at 10:10. NO cremation allowed in country. Baron Imban Castle #196-198 at 10:14. #199 Tomb of Unknown Soldier 10:32. #202 site of Sadat assassination on 10/6/81 as he was reviewing parade and one of his officers shot him but was never punished. #203 Sadat's tomb. #204 black cube of Unknown Soldier 10:44. Day seems endless. #205 650-year-old mosque on left, 150-year-old mosque that contains the bodies of the family of Muhammed Ali on right. #209 Sabiel: water for poor about 200 years old, as opposed to Mydah, which is ablation-water place before a mosque visit. #210 "Noah's ark landed here." Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Tulun (876AD) #211-225. To TOP cupola of minaret to 11:56. To NEW palace of Muhammed Ali, #226-228 from passing bus, contains Cairo Governmental Offices at 12:07. #236-237 Cairo University at 12:33. #238 Gizeh Government House. #239 Omar Sharif's villa at 12:43. City goes on FOREVER! To lunch 12:55 upstairs at Mermaid, waiting for sea bass filet with humus and tahini and eggplant and pita with water, of which I'm given a second bottle when Tarek offers a bit of his lamb rib, good. Sea bass is too large, rice too much, and I don't eat that much to 1:50. Off at 1:54: 20,000 accidents per year, 8000 die. Close eyes to 2:16, try to look out, but it's all the same, and close eyes to hotel at 2:38. Get upstairs to find room being made up: sheets off bed, no face towels in bathroom. I sit and type after a suspiciously loose shit. Type while the steward finishes with the room, Dale verifying that there are face towels in the bathroom, and I finish this at 3PM exactly, debating packing and going to sleep. But not sure. Decide to do crossword at 3:13PM and maybe have pizza about 5:15PM before bed at 6PM. Solve nearly two puzzles by 5PM, when Dale asks me to wake him from a nap, after which he reports he feels he's experiencing jet lag. We go down for food at 5:10 but though we order Four Seasons Pizza early, it doesn't come until 6:10PM! Dale pays the bill in cash, we get half in boxes. I go down to wait ages to pay room bill, and get up to type this at 6:58PM, ready for BED! OH, "lost" eyemask until Dale said steward pulled bed away from wall, and I pulled bed away from wall and there it WAS! Rather a long time to get to sleep, looked at a clock that said 21:something, realizing it was after 9PM, and then dreamed a dream I KNOW I dreamed before, and started transcribing it at 10:06PM.

FRIDAY, 11/7/08: 12:46AM: Decide to bite the bullet and see if I have diarrhea (metaphor!), and transcribe another dream. Transcribe dream to 12:49 and don't feel like excreting anything but a small amount of urine. But then I strain and emit a small, thin, semi-solid turd that doesn't smell TOO bad. Wipe and it's light yellow, but not really alarming. Feel somewhat better now at 12:53AM, less than 90 minutes to the wake-up call. Try Actualism and get well along, down to Human, and actually fall asleep, so that when the phone rings at 2:15AM Dale is in the shower and I have to answer the wake-up call. Up and put on some clothes and get everything out of the closet and drawer while he's in the shower and out of the way, and I just PILE all the bags and loose stuff into the black bag, including the pills and dop kit (with any possibly needed Lomotil and valium) and put it out into the hall just after 2:30AM. Then dress the rest of the way, wash my face, comb my hair, type my dream, and catch up with this by 2:44AM, Dale standing over me obviously eager to leave for downstairs. Leave room, Dale very antsy, at 2:46, and I idly wonder who'll be last down. To the lobby to turn in the room card and get asked AGAIN if we've checked out, and a load of luggage goes out to the bus without anyone checking that his bag's there. Many look VERY much like my little black one! Ester was on a cell phone, and sits nearby looking distressed. Others chat in amicable groups, carry-on luggage at their feet. I type this to 2:52 and decide to go to the bus to see if I can identify my bag. Bus goes at 3:09. Flight at 4:45AM. We take bus from Aswan to Abu Simbel 6:30-9:30. To airport 3:38. STAND in melee and mess of people and shouting and luggage and guides and groups to 4:02, do puzzle, and to gate 11 at 4:07. Sit. On bus 4:16. Sit at 4:22 in seat 36B, over back edge of wing. Back out 4:46. Off at 4:53. LOTS of Nile to the side, sunset oranging the sky to the east, and land smoothly at 5:53, just before sunrise. Off plane 6:05. #241 Aswan Airport from bus. On bus 7AM and bus leaves at 7:03. At 8:19 take 43-second movie of desert. To Abu Simbel town at 9:36AM. Pee 9:53, place jammed with busses and people. Start toward Abu Simbel 10:02. #245 back of Abu Simbel 10:10. Two temples: Rameses II and his wife Nefertari, 3180 years old, raised 60 meters and back 180 meters from where it was. On 22 October and 22 February the light goes IN. Inside at 10:40. DUG depressions on moving it? Tarek says no, everyone else thinks yes. Green fungi? Didn't ask. Roughness of texture? Tarek says the next day that it's because of all the visitors. Walls put up LATER between two entry statues? No, it's in the original plan. When did second head fall? (earthquake of 39BC, someone says, and the other chunk is just the chest, not a second head). To #275 to 11:12, amazed by the number of ROOMS inside. Toward Prince Abbas Restaurant 11:45, into room 12:04, BIG! Lunch 12:30-1:13, GOOD. Tarek says NO to pomegranate seeds and to local fruits like guava and persimmon, even if only scooping fruit from inside skins. He OKs orange slices. Lie down 1:15-3:15, up dizzily tired. Film INCREDIBLE fly-clouds to #285 to 4:11. Down to room at 5:30 after sunset. Gather at 6:10. Tomorrow breakfast 7:30-9, sailing past temple. Meeting at 10:30 on third-deck front. To room 7:53, back from dinner 8:35, GOOD beef for a change. Do puzzles to digest and get to bed at 10PM.

SATURDAY, 11/8/08: 3:08AM: Wake warm and go to pee and type dream. 5:14AM: Wake with an ABSOLUTELY CLASSIC nightmare! Shower 6:55-7:11. #297 pulling gangway on board at 7:26. Move at 7:27AM. To #317 to 7:57 of gorgeous leaving of Abu Simbel. #319 from distance at 8:06 and #330 farther at 8:16. Breakfast to 8:45, but have no KEY. Back to get it, then to Observation room 10AM and start name-list, for at least seven people. All NUBIAN temples are "babies." Ksar (Palace) Ibreem ONLY seen from ship at 11:30. 3PM Amada and El Derr and Benut Tombs. Lots of walking; bring flashlight. Lake Nasser 500 km long, 150 km in Sudan. About 30,000 Nubians lived there, mostly displaced. Egypt and Sudan really ONE country, but Nassar stupidly didn't claim Sudan from Britain when it freed Egypt. High dam built 1960-71. Nubia means "Land of Gold." There are 750 hieroglyphs. 3PM meet in reception, motor to beach. Ksar Ibreem is fortress where Muhammad Ali's son killed the last Mamelukes. Oxford is digging now. Announce that lunch is at 1PM. What I thought was onion soup was really pumpkin soup with fried onions to be added tastily to the top. #323 great blue heron. Tarek writes hieroglyphic names to 1:10, doing Bob and Zolnerzone for me. Lunch 1:15-1:45, and to launch 2:50 to Ksar Ibreem (wrong name), leaving it at 3:35. #357 Amon-Ra-Min 3:48. "Baby Abu Simbel" to 3:52. Second is Deer Temple to #361 to 3:57. On launch 4:16, to boat 4:20. Shit a bit, wash face, type, look at Dale's Egypt map, and go to "tea" at 4:58, taking sugar and milk and cakes, but HATE the schmoozing, so I go back to room at 5:14-5:42 and sit looking toward sunset in what appears to be the east. Move at 6:05 to top in dark and wind, Dale finally joining me before the 7:15 cocktails and presentation of crew and ship information: 65 cabins, 114 passengers now from five groups; 80 crew: 4-6 weeks on, 2 weeks off. Then he says we can take our cocktails, and the right ones are non-alcoholic and left ones are alcohol, but the champagne is awful, sour, and flat, so I get a "Sangria" which is supposedly non-alcoholic for Dale, who drinks it, but when I drink it it's pretty bad. Then wait at the rope at the top of the stairs for the guy to come up from below to open the dining room for the lentil soup which I have first. Rolland and wife are celebrating their 50th Anniversary cruise, and the Brooklynites are celebrating their 39th Anniversary tonight, along with Sallyann's birthday at our table. They actually order the 300P champagne which Sharon says "is dry; it tastes like Cold Duck," which to me is a paradox, so I have a taste and it's not sweet, it's not dry, it's just SOUR. They pass it around, and then drummers and singers come around with two cakes which our three tables share, the other four from our table having left for some reason, so I photo the birthday girl and her partner with and without their cake. This goes to 9:05, and we go up to the bar to get good seats for the 9:45PM "Nubian show by the crew," which consists of four, then five dancers doing rudimentary steps to the CD of the disc jockey, and then they urge everyone to dance and I go to cabin at 10:15 and get to bed at 10:30, almost before Dale returns from the "festivities" at which I saw him nodding out. Get to sleep quickly.

SUNDAY, 11/9/08: 1:50AM: Dale goes to john and I wake to pee and type dream. 4:06AM: Again I wake, can't read my watch, see with my flashlight that it's 4:06AM, and Dale gets up with HIS flashlight and goes to the john, so I wait until 4:10 to go in myself and type my latest dream. Up at 6. Dale comes out of the bathroom and goes to breakfast, I wash face to 6:15 and get to breakfast 6:30-6:55, having another "everything" good omelet, sneaking some water for my small bottle, and, finding no orange slices, take a lot of yogurt with fruit cut up into it. Again have the nerve to ASK for hot chocolate rather than getting it myself. To room and brush teeth. Board second launch at 7:20 to Valley of the Lions. Ashore at 7:30 to crowded temple with a few pictures, but they're all running together. Ask how many temples have been raised: 2 at Abu Simbel, 3 yesterday, 3 today (placed together for security purposes), one tomorrow and Philae some time for a total of 15. I ask him if any that WERE valuable were flooded, and he says only one was PARTLY flooded, and we'll see the remaining part of that later. The US paid for most of it. Second temple is 3200 years old and was made into St. Peter's Church by Christians who feared losing Egypt to the pagans. 8:12 leave Lions (the row of ruined sphinxes), to see the ram-headed god of creation in the next temple, whose name Tarek writes, imitating my small print, as Khnum. To #404 by 8:46. #406 storks (which Dale takes a MUCH better picture of) [but my editing improves it greatly!] at 8:52. Start back to launch and realize that Chewbacca sounds like a CAMEL! First temple was dedicated to Amon-Ra, or Rameses II AS the god, second to Shin, or air, and third to the god of wisdom and light. Black-beaked bird is heron, yellow-beaked is egret. Take photos to #410, and start discarding while waiting for talk to start. Back on launch to meeting about Islam at 9:23, lots of questions. Jihad actually means to fight your OWN dark side. Al Qaeda and Moslem Brotherhood attacked tourists in 1997, and there have been few bad attacks since then (or else he won't talk about them). Islam was even announced by Mohammed as NOT being a new religion, just a reminder of the old ones. Egyptians 40% illiterate. Egyptians are Sunni, Iran is Shia. Sheiks tell their congregations the lies that the Koran is about violence and killing, which it is NOT. Tarek a wonderful proselytizer of the kindness of Islam. This ends at 10:43. I'm back to room and pare and eat the juicy final apple and put the knife in my pocket to return to the dining room at lunch. Dale goes to watch Tarek bargain in the gift shop and returns at 11:40AM, when I'm just about done with this. Start typing 11:25 and end now at 11:45, KNOWING that I've left too little of the DESCRIPTION of the places to my photos, but the FEELINGS are not here: my feeling of PEACE sitting on the top deck watching the ghostly dunes pass on the hills to either side, except when a cruise ship passes us, flashing lights, going upriver as we go down river (from Upper Egypt). I felt rootless this morning, not looking forward to the temples even Tarek described as not very interesting, even though one was moved 4 kilometers, one 40 kilometers, and one 160 kilometers just to put them all together. The third, as Dale pointed out, had a completely different column formation even though, as Tarek said, all the colors were gone, though in the second temple was a positive CHECKERBOARD of original color that I took a close-up of just to get the range of colors. Putting note 4 away, few for a trip like this, and I'm getting jaded: except when I get pissed as hell at Ester, who holds up the group, and Walter said he actually pissed HER off by telling her she was holding up the group, and I called her spoiled rotten and he totally agreed with me, and even toward the end, Tarek would launch into one of his useful explanations without BOTHERING to wait for her to catch up, as she clearly was making a point of not wanting to. Really can't stand her, probably because I used to be so much LIKE her. Now at 11:50 I've decided to remove the last "should" from my list: WRITE POSTCARDS! Sort out WHICH postcards to write (5 of 8 duplicates) and find address list, and sort out puzzles in order, throwing out done ones, by 12:27PM, when of course it's time to go to lunch! Get down about 12:35PM, get food on my plate, including good chicken stir-fry and excellent fish, to find either people in every seat or napkins on the back of every chair! Ask at a half-empty table if there's a free seat, but they say no. I wonder aloud if we've increased from 24. Then a waiter says that three of the five napkins are getting more food, but two of the napkins are at free places! So I ask the two women to verify he said I could sit there, and of course Ester comes to the next empty seat next to me, and we manage to exchange not one word. Dessert of good nut tart, mediocre chocolate bananas, and about a whole orange of orange slices. Drink water and get back upstairs to type to 1:06, NOW ready for postcards! Finish five postcards: Sherryl, Fred, Charles, Rita, and Carolyn, to 1:24PM, and the rest of the day to the Aswan DVD at 4:30 is FREE. Finish 9/13 Times puzzle by 2PM. Then the much harder 9/27 Times puzzle by 4:03PM, which will be saved because it starts with the word "Spartacus." Then Dale wakes and we talk about travels until we watch sunset by 5PM, then up to watch DVD on the moving of Abu Simbel at 5:14 to be sure to get a front-row seat. [Tomorrow: breakfast 7-9, luggage out 8:30, carry-on luggage to room 101-102 at 8:45, 9AM departure for Kalabsha Temple, back at 11, leave ship 11:30. Lunch by hotel pool suggested, dinner with Tarek on tilapia for $10 after a $3 taxi-ride.] Movie then goes from 5:43-6:39 in a room that gets gradually warmer as they've shut off the air conditioning. When we get back to the room Dale concedes turning our AC up to 25 degrees, which will probably still be chilly. I catch up by 6:52, hungry for 7:30 dinner. Dinner 7:35-8:39, good turkey and wine from Sharon, and fish, then do the 10/4 puzzle by 9:30PM, and Dale gets ready for bed and I'm in bed by 9:45PM. Get to sleep quickly, though it IS too warm, for which I feel guilty.

MONDAY, 11/10/08: 1:04AM: Wake with dream, lower temperature from 25 to 23.5, pee, and type dream. 3:03AM: Wake and pee and type dream. Wake at 4:01, cooler in room, and I'm bursting with pee. Type dream to 4:15. 5:25AM: Wake and see Dale going into the john; then the phone rings with a wake-up call at 5:27AM and at 5:31 I hear him in the shower. Type to 5:38AM, then go to file 7. 5:52AM: ANOTHER dream! Pee and type to 5:58, Dale awake and asking if I'm going to be taking a shower. I say, "Yes, but not now." Again wipe pee off the floor: WISH I knew who was doing it! Out to hear Dale saying that there's a mosquito in the room: he's heard it buzzing around his head and he's been bitten on the hand. I took out my earplugs but heard nothing yet. Significant lightening outside, shit a few hard turds, and have to take the key and batteries down to breakfast. Open the door about 6:03AM to see the sun just about to rise, and get my camera to take #398-399 just as sun appears above the horizon, but as usual it doesn't come out in the photo, just the deserted local area of our dock at Aswan. Back to type this to 6:09AM, listening to his shower running, deciding I'll put on clean socks but the same old shorts, since they're running out and we're only about a third through the trip. In fact, when I smell the socks, they're not bad, so I'll keep them too, just change my shirt for variety. Finish showering and start packing and find to my surprise it's 6:50AM already, so I won't finish packing yet. Dale goes to be early for breakfast, allowing me to keep the printed schedule both today and forever, and I manage to stuff everything TOTALLY disorganized into my black bag by 7:05AM, ready for final packing after breakfast. Down to find I missed the omelet man, so I had a tasteless bowl of corn flakes before he returned, after I filled a bowl with fruited yogurt, two rolls, butter, and a chocolate-covered donut. Sat next to Connie (the nicest of them all) (who sadly isn't coming to Petra, though if she'd known about it, she would have), who's there with Irene, though they're hardly together in public. Talky and her friend are coming too, but I'm not sure who the other eight are. Back to room at 7:45 to change into shoes after doing more puzzles: hope I have some LEFT for the plane BACK! (Though, of course, the books of puzzles will last "forever.") Try hard cryptic puzzle to 8:41, luggage gone already, tiny turd out, so I decide to put shoes on and get into the act. I chicken out and put passport and cash into pants and leave room at 8:46. Launch goes at 9AM. #400 Aswan Dam 9:07AM. Kalabsha built by a Roman, Augustus, 1900 years ago. Dam is 110 meters high, 980 meters thick, 3.6 kilometers long. Russia/Egypt monument. Stone carvings 7000 years old. #409 Khnum, God of Creation at 9:48. 182 meters deepest part of lake. #420 Nilometer, which created TAX level: low water, no crops, low taxes; middle, highest taxes because best crops; high water, land underwater, no crops, low taxes. #421 Mandulo is Nubian god. 130,000 pieces to temple. #437 giraffe head 10:32. Leave on launch 10:55. #441 spillway in center of dam at 11:01AM. This is NOT highest water: April-May floods. Pee. On bus 11:28. Dam volume is equal to SEVENTEEN Cheops pyramids! LOW dam raised Nile 40 meters, this takes it up to a total of 182 meters. To #442 to 11:51 mid-dam. NO photos of low dam permitted. [Tomorrow 6:30 tour, 5:30 wake-up call, luggage out 11:15.] 12:10 into papyrus demonstration to 12:25. "45 minutes to shop" turned into an hour where almost EVERYONE bought something. #455 at 1:01, at 115P, minus 20%, or 23P, goes to 92P or $17. Finally leave at 1:22. Guy sells ten bookmarks for 10P and people buy 20. Bus goes at 1:26, to hotel 1:37. Lunch to 2:47 on hot terrace, bloody meaty cheeseburger, lots of ketchupy fries, bland banana milkshake for 20P. Then walk down to Egyptair, turning down wrong road first, then across to silver-fronted building to change seat to LEFT back of wing, in same row where Dale is on aisle, maybe we'll have the seat between us free. Back to room exhausted at 4:02, rest to 4:39, then across street to Nubian Museum, great place. Tarek shows us highlights for first 15 minutes, I record that the "fallen" temple at Kalabsha is Garf Hussein. #475 Nubian fortress of Buhen (holding 1000 men) 1875BC at 5:50. #476 Ankhnesneferibre, 25th Dynasty. #477 Philae 6:09. #478 3-4 Century horse finery buried. #480 bronze lamp 50AD. All from Ballana, which seems very close to where Abu Simbel is on maps of today. #490 original Dendur site. #491 Original Garf Hussein 6:40. #492 original Valley of Lions (Wadi el Sebur). Leave at 6:50, buy great Nubian Museum book for 15P! Tonics $1 each at dinner where the fried tilapia isn't that great: the hummus and tahini are better, but two tonics fill me up, and then he offers some mullet, and then free Cadbury's chocolate, delicious and long-lasting when almost frozen. Walk through lots of the market, constantly besieged, few good-looking guys; we almost walk over kids standing right in front of us trying to sell something. Back to hotel 9:05. He takes FOREVER in bathroom to 9:26, and I pee and get to bed at 9:23AM, leaving JUST eight hours of sleep before 5:30AM call.

TUESDAY, 11/11/08: 5:39AM: Fantastic Nubian Museum yesterday astounds me with the complex history of Nubia almost as much as the Silk Road exhibit long ago in New Delhi excited me: so many cultures and cross-conquerings I didn't know about. In no particular order, as they come to mind: 1) The Assyrians conquering Nubia just as some poor king thought he'd united Upper Egypt with his own poor country which was soon to be completely dissolved. 2) Period A of a distinct Nubian culture about 4000BC being followed by a decadent Period B, then a flourishing Period C which may have been stimulated by a new people moving in from the south or west. 3) The NUMBER of Sudanese sites investigated by the Italians and then the Czechs, finding "prehistoric" stone carvings from 9000BC and 7000BC and other periods, which Tarek said should be moved indoors here rather than being displayed in the open on Kalabsha Island. 3) Ester's completely ignoring me on a) looking at the mummies in the museum and b) ignoring my hand to help her out of the taxi on our arrival back at the hotel after dinner. Type dreams, wake (maybe previously recorded), and get to breakfast last with the two Texas couples who are going to Petra with us. I ask waiter for hot chocolate, he says they charge, I say no, he comes back with big pot, saying it's free. OK. Have scrambled eggs before I notice they're making omelets. They leave table, I put fork and knife and plate near camera and go for fruit, but when I come back they've taken EVERYTHING. Baldie had to pay for the 2-liter water, so I ask for my full glass back from the waiter's tray, and don't notice till later that they've taken my chocolate, and when I complain they apologize and bring me another cup! Out direct to wait for bus that goes at 6:34AM. [Tomorrow: luggage out 11:15, 12 noon leave.] On line for Philae at 6:45, endless salespeople, boat goes at 7:05, maybe third. #496 LOW dam visible at 7:09. He leads us to best stuff, then says we'll meet at 8:55 in coffee shop. #522 Tablet of Isis 8:25. To shop at 8:52 and bus goes at 9:04. I took to #533. Succumb to hematite necklace for $2 on boat back to bus. Onto bus 9:18. [Later: meet at 3PM for felucca ride, then at 5PM for shopping.] #537 guard at bank 9:34. First two ATMs don't work, then we lose Maggie in the bank when Dale, who'd been given her soda to hold, said she wasn't back yet AFTER Tarek counted and "said" we were complete! BOO-BOO! We can put second boat's tip on Visa! Leave hotel 11:52, having rested a LOT, exhausted already. We're in Nile Lily room 211. Board bus 12:15. To ship 12:43. To room at 12:55, needing TWO keys to not work, guy finally changes LOCK. Lunch to 1:35 in BAD setup: 3x2x3x2 at two tables, and one table for 4, taken by four female singles, Dale and I grabbing one two-side for ourselves. Rest. To lobby at 2:40, pay $20 for tomorrow's tour, to felucca at 3:10, which turns out to give Tarek a chance to talk to all of us at length about the market at 5PM! To room 4:15, underwhelmed by felucca ride, do MANY puzzles until Dale comes back with two "precious" boxes that he described before showing them to me, then we're down to dinner in JAMMED dining room, me starting with fish and stuffed duck and oranges, then finishing with dessert, and back to room to start typing at 8:08, somehow messing up the last two days, and finish to date at 8:46, ready to go down to claim a close seat for the Nubian show in the bar tonight at 9PM. It starts 8:50, is much younger and more active than before, but it quickly gets into "audience participation" and I leave about 9:10PM. Discard to #448 from a total of #553 by 9:50PM, ready for bed. He sets alarm for 6:30 because we have to be ready to go at 7:45, ugh. Then when I want to go into the bathroom, HE goes into the bathroom at 10PM and brushes his teeth. I got out my flashlight since we decide we can't leave the bathroom light on, since it shines DIRECTLY into our BEDROOM! WHAT a design! So I get to bed at 10:08. As usual, get quickly to sleep.

WEDNESDAY, 11/12/08: 6:42AM: Wake at 3:31 to pee, trying to remember a dream, though I'm reluctant to take Dale at his word that he probably won't wake up if I turn on the bathroom light, which will shine through the bizarre translucent "window" between the bathroom shower and the side of his bed. Then wake again at 5:47 and take notes on my two dreams on a card with a flashlight at my bed, thinking still not to trouble him. Lie, thinking with relief that this is OUR "hump day," the halfway day of the trip, ten days gone, ten days left after today. Shit a tiny bit until 6:29AM and sit on the edge of my bed waiting for Dale's alarm to ring and wake him, which it does at the dot of 6:30, and he gets up and goes in to shower, which gives me time to catch up on my dreams and transcribe these thoughts. There's a CONSTANT water-sound coming through the hallway wall, which I hope is only the sloshing of the ship next to us which will stop once we leave this dock. Then the DINING table is SO awkward with the three people on one side, and the "starting line" is so cramped that there's hardly room to move before getting appetizers and soup, so I just move into the empty space after the soup and before the custom-made entree, which happens to be stir-fry vegetables, which look good with onions and peppers until he adds the cabbage, which will make it inedible for me, so I move along to the fish, which is VERY good (not to mention supplementing my fish oil lack, which I hope doesn't permanently damage my blood readings), and the stuffed duck roll, which is quite tasty, as everyone at the table agrees, trying to be sociable while Millard, or whoever the old fart is [Rolland], has to sit so far toward the edge of the table with his enormous wife sitting in the middle of the three on his side that he's practically taking up half my area on the adjacent side of the table. Decide that I'll simply continue going later to meals: so far Dale has managed to keep our two-seated table-side for ourselves, but I can picture someone else pushing us out who really DOES need more room volume-wise. I can imagine coming late and finding the last empty seat, probably next to Ester---though she might be permanently with Maggie and the two girls at the enviable table for four---and I wonder vaguely if it wouldn't be possible for Dale and me to request a possibly vacant table for TWO, since there seem to be a lot of them scattered over the floor, though they might be in great demand. Maybe I'll talk it over with him when he gets out of the shower. I'll shower this morning, just for something to do, and change shorts and socks. How many do I have left? Three shorts for the next eleven days, so two will have to last four days, and five pair of socks, permitting most pairs to last only two days, which is fine. But if anyone is keeping track of my shirts, they'll get increasingly grungy, sadly more so toward the end with the super-rich Texans who'll be sharing our table at Petra, though we'll probably be six and six, and they'll get the "good" table and we'll be with the "dross." Terry is turning into a good talker, and everyone is remaining civil, but I just feel like I'm out of it. Of course Dale isn't making things any better, coming up with the MOST inane details about plumbing, wiring, electrical and mechanical instruments, things from his past that indicate his mastery of arcane processes, and constant need to fill the air with SOME kind of talk which I feel my puzzle-working is taken as a direct challenge to, which of course it IS. The rooms here aren't as good: I think I can hear people from all five directions, though there's no one below us but the bar (which of course is loud with entertainment at night), but noise comes in easily from the hall and from the next room, though we're at the end of the hallway so there's no one on one side of us. And now at 7:01 he's finished with the shower so I can take mine and get late to breakfast before our 7:45 departure. Get to breakfast at 7:22. No one is at the omelet station, and then he takes AGES to start mine. Most people already gone, Walter starting late because he still has a funny tummy and isn't going on the tour, but the omelet is good and I finish with fruit in yogurt and get to lobby and pee in WIDE-basin lobby john at 7:43. Launch goes off at 7:55. #563 tombs of the landlords 8:20. To Kitchener Island 8:18, taking pictures of not much: the warty flowering tree is said to be Copak, or maybe Kapok, and one of the gardeners pointed out lantana. Wander up and down the lanes, taking pictures, and leave at 9:10. #594 Aga Khan's winter house, below, and tomb for when he died in 1958: father of Aly Khan who married Rita Hayworth, at 9:23. No NATURAL-growing lotus or papyrus left in all of Egypt, not only in Aswan. #601 WAS first cataract before low dam. Leave Nubian village 11AM after Sprite and photos of crocodiles in cages #625, on my arm, and on my HEAD, hoping to get a copy of a GREAT photo from Terry, to whom I give my card and have a good indexing talk on the boat back. #630 original Nilometer 3400 years old. Off boat 11:53. Sharon squares her double-withdrawal banking mistake with Tarek's help. To lunch 12:10-12:55 with GOOD table with ONLY eight of us at three tables, thank goodness. Have ONLY fish and some beans with lots of orange, with three or four desserts and a redo of a lovely chocolate hard-mousse. Back to sudoku, for a change, when Dale goes out for a walk because he's getting stir-crazy, and at 1:38 I start on my teeth, watching the very end of "There's Something About Mary," and the very start of "Tango and Cash" when Dale comes back as I'm about to finish. Feel good to do it. He couldn't find anything to do, and has no interest in learning sudoku. Do this typing to 2:44PM, Dale back to CNN with its VERY negative news. Distribute last of pills through next Sunday and get back to sudoku. Stop sudoku 3:48. Up 4:02 to see the sailing at 5PM, Dale explaining how the ship blocking our passage out has to be unhooked from us before we can move out, and how many lines are connecting us to the shore. Move back and forth with others of our group looking at the string of shops, so new as to be still unoccupied, along this stretch of new docks north of the main town of Aswan, which continues MANY miles north along roads along the river which seem about a mile from any buildings inland, as if the government has reserved the waterfront north of Aswan for an almost infinite line of new docks for the INCREDIBLE number of tourist ships that we see when we progress north in the twilight. Don't unhitch at 5PM, seeming to wait for a bus with tourists, who've already offloaded their luggage, returning from a shopping trip at 5:10 and hurrying on board, after which the gangway is drawn up. The outer boat, with a sign for Overseas Adventure Travel, moves out into the river, and we back out and turn on a dime to head north along a constant stream of sodium-vapor street lamps on the east, above which a full moon has risen, after watching the sun set in the west about 4:50PM, explaining its earlyness by the fact that we're only at the same time-zone as Europe but are in fact much farther east, so our clock-time should be one or two hours later than it actually is. Come to a bridge that we try to photo, then down for the cocktails, which start early when our group takes their own, and "the pilot" as Dale identifies him, "the husband of the woman (Helen) who smokes" doles out vodka from his water bottle to make my first drink more potent, and I follow it with two MORE drinks, so that when I go back up to watch the approach to Kom Ombo I'm properly stoned, watching the ENORMOUS gathering of ships before the towering lit facade of the double-holy temple, and we park next to a Sonesta St. George I, very Italianately ornate, which we cross to get to the path BELOW the ranks of shops I'd seen from the boat (as we returned on a path ABOVE the ranks of shops). Dale reports that Ester has "chewed a new rear orifice for Tarek" by complaining about EVERYTHING about the trip: not showing her what she wants to see, not spending enough time where she wants to be, not telling her what she wants to hear, and sadly it's AFFECTED Tarek (rather than him just telling her to go fuck herself); and then she of course comes along on his tour and takes a photo of a wooden-support void between two stone construction blocks that he holds a flashlight to illuminate under the full moon. The approach to the DOZENS of boats lining the shore was impressive, as was the gradual approach of the immense facade of the lit temple rising above, and we slowly nosed into the pack of boats to find a mooring spot only one boat off the shore, and all the groups filed off the ship about 8PM. I should have peed, because the pressure built up so that I actually LEAKED a few drops, to my embarrassment, before finding a dark corner where I let loose an ENORMOUS stream of urine, zipping up and walking out JUST past a guard who shouted, "NO, NO, NO," seeming to realize (or maybe even witnessing, but letting me finish) what I'd done, and then, strangely, forgivingly, following it by, "OK, OK." Much relieved, I went back to trying unsuccessfully to take pictures of the staggering complex: the cartouches of numbers in the calendar, the carvings of the surgical instruments, the mummies of the crocodiles, the unmarred figures deeply carved on the numerous facades, the oddly oriented pylons and sub-temples and entrances and cross-views, all of which yielded largely unsuccessful pictures but left an indelible impression of grandeur and the lingering question, "Why do ALL of us have to be here NOW?" when we could just as easily have left Aswan four or five hours earlier and been here in daylight: could it be the purely mercenary reason that tourists "stranded" for the afternoon in Aswan will SHOP, as Dale did, rather than just sit on the boats? Then there was the INCREDIBLY dense traffic of ships passing VERY close to us, going both up- and down-river, during the cocktail hour. Then the groups waiting in queues for their explanations, photos, and departures before the next group could position themselves for the descriptions in French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, English, and other languages. We docked at 7:35PM, temple 2240 years old, dedicated to Sobek (crocodile god) and Osiris, a rare double holy-of-holies torn down by locals for building material, but the carvings still remaining were grand. Back to pee again and go to a great dinner with Terry, Walter, and Pilot and their wives, Dale even commenting how much BETTER our table is now than it was before. In addition, Terry and Pilot knew each other as CHILDREN, arguing that Pilot's mother liked Terry more than she did her OWN two sons, and Walter has obviously known them from way back---or at least his WIFE has. SHE compliments me effusively because I correctly evaluated the lasagna as very good, the chocolate cake as a strong B, and the mousse as an A-, proclaiming me the food expert of the table who she would trust with any recommendation, and then I started talking a bit about restaurants: Eugenie Les Bains, El Bulli, Alinea, Per Se, Le Bernardin, Chanterelle (forgetting Corton), and Gordon Ramsey in the London Hotel, and my favorite Dallas BBQ. They listened with great interest and I was SO glad to have had the drunken vodka that I think I should have it more. Finally leave the table at 9:50, bed at 10AM, Dale setting the alarm for 7AM.

THURSDAY, 11/13/08: 2:59AM: Pee and type dream with flashlight in mouth. Same again at 4:41 and 6:05AM, when I get up and open the curtain to see a series of rock-cut tombs right at the riverside, [start file 2 at 6:26AM on Thursday, 11/13/08] amazing in their number and variety: from simple round or square holes to facades with two or three pillars in front, some with feluccas parked in front of them. Then go in to strain for a few minutes at one huge hard turn, and out to see that Dale is at the window, saying that it's changed in just a few minutes: from a desert-sand riverbank to a verdant strip of agricultural land with the sand cliffs maybe a mile behind, and the sun's now up and shining on egrets on low grassy islands, white djelabaed men along the far bank, and now a water tower, yellow-painted stucco buildings, and an old felucca with a dirty drooping sail carrying a freight of stones, manned by two ragged old men, passes right under my window. Cattle graze at the riverside, birds fly along, mats of weeds float by in patches, and a morning sun is now shining from behind me on a populated shore at 6:33, causing an amazing change of frame of mind: before getting out of bed, I was tired and rather bored with the idea of the trip (until, of course, the next tour or temple or event), and now it seems excitingly foreign, completely Egyptian. And now white birds cluster in palm trees, animals are more frequent in front of fences made of dried palm fronds, and the banks rise up to maybe 10-15 feet, sometimes with signs of old stone-block constructions or docks along the riverfront, sometimes with palm trees that have fallen forward into the river---and it turns out that was all on an island, which now gives way to a far-distant western shore with sandy cliffs, fishermen in small boats, some kind of (as Dale suggested) structure that might be a water-pumping station for irrigation, and true stands of wild reeds (how sad they can't be papyrus!) right at the waterside. Fascinating just to watch it all pass by outside my window as I sit on the edge of my bed and type moment by moment waiting for breakfast at 7AM, now at 6:37AM. Now a tree FULL of egrets passes below what may be a primitive hotel with a boat dock below.  Finish the lengthy INSERT A (end of Wednesday) at 7:15AM, Dale having gone up to take pictures from the top after telling me that breakfast is until 8:30AM, when the next tour starts, so I say I'll eat later, wanting to finish INSERT A. Now to wash my face and get ready for breakfast. To breakfast 7:25AM. Pilot is named ART! The squint-eyed guy is Vern. Wait for small line for "everything" omelet, and have lovely talk with Vern, Gerald, and Bill, all of whom have traveled to Galapagos and Machu Picchu. Back up at 8:13AM to aim my card toward the slot and Dale opens the door. Dock with a dozen other ships at Edfu at 8:17, catch up, and put on shoes and socks and get out to be ready for shore at 8:23. Out 8:30 in PAIRS, each in a carriage, Tarek sitting in front with driver on ours, and we're all given 40P to tip the same driver on the way back. #718 Edfu first at 8:55. 10:30 meet at exit. 2200 years old, 180 years to be built, to god Horus. If everyone is looking left in an inscription: read it left to right; otherwise, read text right to left. #723 is very ESHER-like at 9:36. #724 1,333,331 prisoners. Set is represented as amorphous figure that may be pig OR hippo, finally really belly-up and dead. Back to boat 10:54, meeting at 11:05. Boat goes 11:07. [Balloon trip Saturday.] [Friday: 4:30AM wake-up call, leave 5:30-11 to tombs. West bank Valley of Kings and Queens: Rameses V and VI extra $10, all sign up. Also Rameses II and IX. Hatshepsut cut temple and Memnon colossi.] Priest's money and power TAKEN by Christians. Tomb 15, 2000 years old. [Friday: Breakfast 4:45-5:30. Lunch 12, then BACK to Luxor, and Karnak 3PM.] Buy "Art Visions of Ancient Egypt." Esna lock built in 1906. REAL lock later. We'll go through at 6PM. 11:28: "Modern Egypt" talk: 75 million people, 5% dirt poor, 10% regular poor, 75% middle class, rest rich or ridiculously rich. Meeting over (my eyes closing) at 12:10. Watch "I, Robot" and scenery out window to 1:55, then lunch alone, and talk of my support to Tarek to 2:13. Shit a bit. Up for leaning minaret of Esna 2:31. To room at 2:50. #768 Esna at 2:53. Up to see lock close and water-level lower. Up to room at 3:46. Puzzle. Tea and ice cream sundae 5-5:32, then put on a long-sleeve shirt for the first time on the trip. Pay $10 for tomb-tour tomorrow. Friday pay boat-bill after dinner, Saturday fly to Cairo 10AM. Talk to 6:30, repetitious and gibberish. Dock with "Orchestra" next door at 6:43. FIVE boats to go through. To Luxor 7PM, crowds, lights, many courts, no memory of previous visit (though maybe I NEVER SAW Luxor on the first trip?). Start AFTER alley of human-headed sphinxes. Walk and walk, lots of Mins, take pictures galore, many of which look better at certain angles. Back to boat 8:15, dinner at 8:24, bed after 9PM, bad since Dale sets alarm for 4:20AM.

FRIDAY, 11/14/08: Type two dreams and pee twice, then phone rings at 4:33AM while Dale's showering, and I get up blindly and start typing to now at 4:53AM, blearily ready to wash face, dress, and down to breakfast ready to leave for the Valley of the Kings. Do all, get pills, squeeze out a satisfactory shit, and finish this at exactly 5AM. To breakfast 5:04. Up to lobby at 5:25, still groggy. Start 5:30, on launch 5:35. Boat goes 5:42, all 24 of us! To shore 5:46, onto bus 5:49. To entry 5:53 (gate OPENS at 6AM!). We're 4th bus; move at 8:58. To mini-train cars at 6:10, we're 6th or 7th. Rameses IV 6:15. FABULOUS color. Off to Rameses IX 6:25, into IX 6:27. HEADLESS men. Blue CORRIDOR ceiling; DETAILED paintings! Back-bending women. Chipped-away Min. Splash-drops to snake heads, to arrows, to body. Order of Rameseses: 4, 9, 1, 6. Snake-legged on body (drawing). Out of IX at 6:38. Into Rameses I 6:40. Double cow-headed POLE with EIGHT mummies at necks, with seven crouching figures between heads. Big-eared rabbit. Scarab-headed god is God Ra (Sun). Out 6:49. Snake Abophis, "Snake Basket," the biggest evil. To Rameses VI 6:56. In, special ticket, at 6:58. Human-headed bird is Ba, or Soul. Double-snake headed god. Ass-wipers. Into (closed, led by guide) area of HEAD of Rameses VI sarcophagus mask. Out 7:13. Leave IX 7:17, postcard book for $1, poor. Leave Valley. Buy more twenty more postcards: 1) Valley of Queens, 2) Hatshepsut, for $2 at 7:28. Ride train to 7:30. Pee. On bus 7:42. Hatshepsut's architect Senmut, 3400 years ago. #872 Howard Carter's house 7:49. To Hatshepsut's Temple entrance on bus 7:53. TRAM goes 8:03, all rebuilt! On second level right is Anubis, left is Horus. "Upper terrace reconstructed by Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology, the University of Warsaw, and The Supreme Council of Antiquities 1961-2008." Tarek 8:50: Only STORY of obelisks in DAMAGED paintings INSIDE (closed) first level. 15,000 tourists/day. Board tram 8:55. Off 8:58. #931 Polish Exhibit dome taken at 9AM sharp! On BUS 9:03 to Valley of Queens for more. Go 9:04. #936 Ramasseum Mortuary Temple 9:11. People MOVED out of Valley of Nobles so tombs can be excavated. Off bus 9:14. #939 Nefertari Tomb (closed) 9:20. USED to be "First 100 people," and RIOTS, so Government closed it "for restoration." Queen Titi, second skeleton of fetus. Into Titi 9:25. Into Amen-Khopshef 9:29. Son of Rameses III. Fabulous color. Kid with side-hair. 5-inch fetus (blown by fan by Arab) for 1P, "little (tip)." Out 9:34 and reclaim camera which wasn't allowed in at ALL! 9:45 buy "Art and History of Egypt" for $12, should have paid the 60P (or not?) at 5.5P per dollar. #949 Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III, just found, at 9:52. On bus after colossi at 9:56. Bus goes 9:58. Lunch will be 12-1:30, meet at 3 for Karnak. Alexander the Great made the Holy of Holies at Luxor. We enter our ship through Mojito ship. Off bus 10:32. Into Luxor 10:34 (due out at 11:40). Pee 10:40 for 1P. Touch head, touch head, touch heart, take photo, 1P: another scam. "Too small (tip)" again! Bus goes 11:43. Boat 11:50. Lunch 12:03-12:44, museum only takes 80P, not dollars, so "fate" has determined we return to ship and lie down (and Dale says I snore a lot) 1:08-2:40. Shit and wash to 2:47 and on bus 3:09. [Tomorrow: wakeup 4AM, pickup 5AM for balloons, luggage out 4:30AM, back for breakfast around 7:30.] To Karnak 3:20. Meet at 5PM after Tarek shows us through MAZE of temples so we're LOST, saying at end, "Follow large pylon to small pylon to meeting place." Yeah. 2000 years to build. Last week discovered 111th pyramid! 134 columns in Hypostyle Hall. Estimated SEVENTY MILLION mummies. #1021 base of BROKEN obelisk. #1040 TOP of broken obelisk at 4:15. Parade counterclockwise around largest scarab for seven children, clockwise for losing life. Exhausted, finished 4:53, to #1077. On bus 5:04. To Luxor Museum, with $20 from Walt in exchange for my last 100P note, at 5:14. Watch National Geographic program on Luxor Museum narrated by Omar Sharif to 5:24. Great exhibits, lots of Ahknaton, great reconstructions, no photos allowed, buy $50 "Luxor" book with Visa at 6:20, to ship at 6:30 and look through "Luxor" book with Dale to 7:12. Pack to 7:30 for tomorrow's wake-up call at 4PM. Start typing 7:32 and finish to date at 7:58, phone call for balloon money. Pay with Visa, go to dinner, a fixed menu of fish and terrible carrot cake, over at 9:04PM and then wait ENDLESSLY for waiters to put in TONIGHT's bills for people to sign out on, and then they give me 212's bill by mistake, then 211 with 30P for the beer and 222P for my $40 crew tip, which I scratch my head about until I multiply 40 by 5.5 and it's OK. Up at 9:20, Dale in bathroom, and get to bed at 9:34, less than SIX AND A HALF HOURS to sleep! Takes quite a while to get to sleep with the disco beat coming THROUGH the floor into my ears in my bed. Think I hear an alarm or phone soon after I DO get to sleep, but get BACK to sleep.

SATURDAY, 11/15/08: Finish typing dream at 1:19 and pee. Wake at 3:10AM with dream, which I just make a note on. Dale's alarm rings at 4:01, followed by phone at 4:02AM. Dale's in the shower as I finish typing dream two at 4:07AM. I've wakened with a slightly sore throat, throwing me into paranoia about getting a cold (as Helen mentioned the awful prodrome of getting a cold at dinner last night, reminding me of a few women coughing in the bus and in the VERY close confines of a burial chamber---including, I think, Ester in a VERY closed tomb, who later turns out to be VERY sick), and I think of our group contracting some terrible communicable disease, only somewhat heartened by the thought that we'll be flying to Cairo this morning and then bussing to Alexandria, both of which would clearly have better medical facilities than Luxor, though with all these tourists I'm sure the local doctors are expert in tourist-borne diseases. Had debated taking a shower, but what with a possible cold, and taking a jacket for the possible cold of the balloon ride, I decide against it: fuck it if I smell: I'll spray and hope for the best. The ship outside our window has MOVED: rather than looking into a bedroom window, the bedroom is now to the left, and to the right is the start of a second-floor atrium of the lobby of the adjoining ship. Now 4:12 and time for breakfast and putting out the luggage. Wash to 4:23, luggage out, no breakfast until tea on launch, down at 4:30, guide shows up at 4:55. Van goes at 5AM, on boat to cups of tea with sugar and milk at 5:50. Instructions given by balloon's captain Amir, and off launch at 5:22, others going across for the Valleys and other balloons. Across Nile 5:29, off launch, walking over other boats at 5:31, onto van 5:38. Van goes 5:39, and we take off at 5:55 with about a dozen ballooning balloons, two or three lit with fires at one time. 3000 tombs in the Valley of the Nobles, government finally ordered the families out after dozens of years of negotiations and building new houses in an adjoining valley, though many houses were found to cover tombs they already plundered. 6:21 Rameses II Mortuary Temple directly underneath (refer to times on photos), followed by Rameses III temple known as Medinet Habu. #1143 French archaeological team's house, #1144 a monastery at 6:30, with patterns of graves outside to "mark their territory, to indicate there were no tombs below from which they could be displaced." Start VERY low to ground, sun not rising for about fifteen minutes, disappointed we're not really over ANYTHING, then high above Hatshepsut's temple, and some grave openings in Valley of Kings and Queens, but Luxor itself is first lost in dark and mist, and then in the blaze of a rising sun in mist. Can't see the slightest trace of Karnak in the west, adding to my slight disappointment. Captain keeps saying that others are going down for second trip of day, while we're staying up longer with Hod-Hod, their transliteration of the hoopoo's cry. Get perilously close to electric wires for thrill purposes, and land at 6:51, Captain insisting we're up over an hour, but not by my watch. We don't even need to position ourselves, just settling to the ground with a bump as the crew clusters around to keep us from dragging over the ground. My bag on the floor around my feet was a constant concern, and Connie next to me kept asking silly questions I couldn't answer. Some overhead views impressive, but, perversely, I think they're better from the ground where you can see the carvings on the facades, not just the outlines of the foundations. We'd gotten up to 2500 feet, and kept the first part under 500 feet. On van 7:03, kids knocking on windows for treats, most of us taking Tarek's word that everything was taken care of and NOT dropping extra baksheesh into the overturned tambour "for the crew." Wasn't $125 enough for everything? Cute aide kept smiling at everyone, so I resolved to get his picture on film, looking like a young sexy Azak with a dazzling smile. Van to Nile at 7:16 through VERY picturesque village backyards, but I'm sort of numb and depending on my memory for the garbage, broken buildings, breakfast-making through tattered door-curtains, women throwing slop over walls into outside gutters rather than inside gutters, little children outside already trying with makeshift toys like bricks and twigs to play creatively in the dirt in front of their bedraggled hovels. Boat goes at 7:20, and we get off at 7:24. Van goes 7:27-7:33, 7:36 to ship and a much-needed pee. Breakfast quick 7:45-8:11, "everything" omelet still great, juice, rolls, and hot chocolate, leaving last since I have my bag with me, peeing in lobby john and finally feel ready for guide at 8:14AM. Onto bus at 8:21, new guide, Muhammad, not exuding much confidence. Check our luggage, take a shot of huge carriage tottering up slope from dock, and bus goes at 8:25, NOT past Old Winter Palace Hotel, so I never DO get a shot of it. At airport at 8:40 we're told to "Wait on the bus until the boys fall down the luggage." Off bus 8:50. Flight MS 136 at 10:10, standing in lobby for a long time before being allowed into gate area, with seats, where I sit apart and do a puzzle until we board about 9:50, next to Terry and Kathy, who keeps her eyes closed at the window, and when I look longingly enough out the window, Terry asks if I'd like to change seats. YES! Try to get camera from bag, but it's been pushed into the back of the overhead rack and the stewardess rushes us, as we're taxiing for takeoff, to insist we take our seats. I slide into window, Terry next to me, Kathy on the outside, eyes closed, Terry constantly stroking her arm: I guess she doesn't like to fly at all, though Terry had flown to many places on business where he didn't even take time to look at the sights. Off at 10:18. FANTASTIC views out over the desert! All-over water-flow patterns, and FRACTAL formations of rivers branching into streams branching into brooks branching into brooklets branching into tinier brooklets, with almost PRECISELY the same intricacy as the lacy edges of some of the Mandelbrot figures. Also reminded of Japanese lacquers where a dark surface (weathered sand) was carved through to reveal colored minute layers (varying centuries of layers of sand) to a base of the lightest color (riverbeds of almost white-tan purity, often dotted with what could only be large trees or groups of bushes, in order to be visible from our high-flying altitude). Even ox-bow patterns from previous rivers from who KNOWS how long ago. Traces of what I describe as minor roads or even caravan tracks in the sand, and then a few paved roads with sections covered by sand. Mining operations in a few spots carving white scars in the tan-brown sands. Over large parts of unidentifiable Cairo after finally getting skeletons of fields encroaching on the surrounding desert-lands, then green fields, then farms, villages, houses, roads, but still a surprising LACK of large roads in Cairo itself, mostly huge squares of slums cut by alleys, most of which are too narrow for cars, all of which are loaded with debris from neighboring buildings and former buildings. Land at 11:06, off plane 11:08, on bus to terminal, leave airport terminal at 11:51, following guide, after all luggage identified and pees taken. Tarek is waving at us from the front of the bus. On bus 11:54, leave 11:58. Exit Cairo Airport precisely at noon. [Restaurants tonight: La Mamma Italian in hotel, but he's going to his own favorite at 6:30.] [Tomorrow, 7:45 start: catacombs, Pompey's pillar, Roman theater, Library, citadel.] 5 million people, stinky fish market at end for which we do NOT get out of bus. To falafel maker for sandwich and good cheese-potato chips and 7-Up, and then Tarek gives me a square of chocolate that makes me hungry for chocolate. Stop at Funky 1:34-2:08, people STILL buying clothes. Breakfast tomorrow starts at 6. Into Alexandria at 4:50 after passing thousands of billboards, a few ornate rich palaces in "suburbs," ads for housing projects, failed projects, flourishing and failed farms with trees and bushes and pigeon towers I take no pictures of, but we're going BACK the same way on Monday! Sunset about 5:05PM. Onto fifteen-mile-long Corniche on "ocean," to room 604 in the Sheraton Montazah (named after adjacent palace) at 5:30. Unpack and talk and down at 6:27 to 12 of us, taking "public transportation to see what it's like," for dinner at Housy's three-story restaurant, where the lights go out for a bit, we have great lamb rib-steaks and they-say tasty chicken and a few fish, no beer, no tonic, lots of meat, back at 8:05 after walk. More puzzles to digest and eyes closing and bed at 9:13PM, feeling like I might be coming down with a COLD, dammit!

SUNDAY, 11/16/08: 6:15AM: Woke with two dreams, didn't record second, but took two Fisherman's Friends with the first pee, and two again before I showered 5:43-6:06AM, slightly moving away from the feeling that I'm getting a cold. Start typing as Dale uses the bathroom. No discernible sunrise outside: it just gets lighter and clouds turn from gray to white. Lots of traffic below, Dale goes to breakfast about 6:50AM, and I finish this to date at 7:05AM, glad to have had a thorough shower, deodorant, powder, and room feels warmer and throat feels less sore as I dress for breakfast by 7:09. Ester passes in the hall just as I open the door and I, startled, say "Hello." She passes without a word or a nod. I figure she's REALLY ignoring me. She passes the elevator by and I push the button for down. She turns back to the elevator and says "Good morning." I figure, "Fuck you, Ester; ignore me when you want, and when I get your elevator you say good morning?" And remain silent. Elevator comes, I get in, SHE DOESN'T, and I figure she's REALLY pissed at me for whatever reason. In fact, I tell the story to Maggie and Dale over breakfast, and Maggie recommends that I NOT question it with Ester, "Because she's not the type who would like it." I say I'll take her advice, because, in the best sense, she's a woman AND she's had a lot of experience. Dale leaves and we continue to talk. She leaves and is last to the bus at 7:47AM. [Tomorrow: breakfast 6-9:30, luggage out at 10AM, leave 10:55, visit palace grounds, drive to Cairo, farewell dinner 6PM.] To Catacombs of Kom El-Shuqafa at 8:28, 1800 years old, 3 levels: triclinium (banquet hall that had been filled with broken pottery from the meals, which gave the place its Arabic name), no photos permitted, down a spiral staircase about five stories, into a MAZE of burial chambers which I wished for a map of, and GOT one on the back of the pack of postcards being sold afterward for $1. Enjoyed the maze and carvings and two statues at the bottom, and then up to take our cameras and take pictures from the outside; I even managed to get a step or two of the spiral from a hole in the glass conical roof over the "Large-shaft-go-around-a-staircase" as the legend on the postcards has it. A donkey stumbled through the roof of one of the upper rooms in 1898. Then a Pharaonic room with statues and carvings of Horus, Anubis in a slightly different form and pose, and the Sun God, and there were 180 graves, and in the Caracalla room they found what they thought were human bones, which turned out to be horse bones. In at 8:36. Arabs invaded Egypt in 642AD. At 8:50 I go and go in MAZES. Out 9:13. To Pompey's Column, 26.8 meters of granite, from 292AD. That to 9:20, to Roman Theater (found in 1962, prompting Tarek to say that some day they'll find Alexander's and Cleopatra's tombs, too). Take photos of group to 9:50, Ester staying out, I finally getting one, Tarek noting that I took a picture of HIM taking a picture of the group. Walk over ruins of baths and meeting rooms, up hill (shouted at by a guard that I shouldn't be coming that way) to items dredged from the bottom of the Mediterranean along with stones from the original Pharos of Alexandria, which leads to Art coming up to me and saying, "I thought of consulting Google, but then I figured you'd know: what were the Seven Wonders of the World?" They'd gotten five or six, but I insisted that the Colosseum couldn't be one of them since it was known that only ONE (the pyramids) still existed. He started with 1) Pyramids (of Ginza, he kept repeating), 2) Pharos of Alexandria, 3) Hanging Gardens of Babylon, 4) Colossus of Rhodes, Sharon brilliantly added one I'd forgotten: 5) Statue of Zeus (on the Acropolis?), and I added 6) The Mausoleum of Hallicarnassus (which NO one recognized) and 7) The Temple of Artemis. Later, at the New Library of Alexandria, Art actually went on Google and returned with those Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and added the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World (which had been voted on in some way): 1) Stonehenge (which he wrote as Stonehedge), 2) Colosseum, 3) (to my MIND-BLOWN AMAZEMENT) The Catacombs of Kom El-Shuqafa (which I kept thinking he added as a joke, or maybe even that the Alexandrian Library added as a piece of puffery, but he INSISTED he got it from Google, and we'd JUST SEEN IT!!!), 4) Great Wall of China, 5) Hagia Sophia, 6) Leaning Tower of Pisa, 7) Porcelain Tower of Nanjing (which I assume I saw before I got sick and went into the hospital). SO I'VE SEEN THEM ALL, AS OF TODAY!!! To bus 10:23. Off bus at Library 10:41. #1249 Arts Center 10:56. 2000 readers can be accommodated, said to be largest reading room in the world. They currently stock a half-million books in multiple sublevels (I rode elevators up to L3 at the top and B4 at the bottom to take pictures, passing a truly spectacular face on either a son or the young lover of a potty middle-aged man of similar, though aged, face.) and plan to expand to eight million books. They have a printing machine that prints, colors, and binds books in 5-20 minutes, but they had to be concerned with copyright problems. Ann pessimistically replied, "That'll never happen," but I held out more hope: imagine refusing the Library of Alexandria! Go to a special exhibit on Shadi Abdelsalam, who made "The Night of Counting the Years," (also known as "Al-Mummia") which won a prize at the London Film Festival in 1970, which looks like fun, and did the sets and costumes (and VERY homoerotic drawings of costumes and men) for a number of other movies, and wanted to do an expensive "Ahknaton" that never got made. Back to bus 12:19, data-overloaded. Took to #1263. Photos inside from MANY angles; incredible building. Copy down "Seven Wonders" lists. Bus goes 12:32. Buy three glass pyramids for $4 at 12:53. Stop more and more: fish, fishing boats, sights, Corniche, mosques, over by 1:21. SEE (no photo) the castle in which King Farouk died, a rambling pink train-station-type building. Dinner tonight on own. #1283 at restaurant: right, tilapia; left, mullet at 1:28. Lunch of fried bass and lots of tahini to 2:11, wanting more water but too proud to ask for it. Meet Tarek at 7:30 for "slight walk and slight meal," but when we get to hotel at 3:17 I want nothing more than to drink some water and lie down! Time-check at 4:30 as Dale reads, then snoozes, then watches TV quietly as Sarah Palin squeaks on and on. Then I suggest we go to La Mamma to check the menu (after Dale thinks he might just settle for a granola bar and some nuts and water for dinner), and he agrees, and we go down at 7:10PM to find MANY of the group there, have a good potato-mushroom soup and lasagna for $15 including tax and tip, which brings my expenses and Dale's expenses almost even (to the dollar), and fills us up, me gratified with two cans of delicious tonic. Back to room at 8:13 to talk about day and trip, debating what to do (and how to do it) about leaving stuff in hotel while we go to Jordan, and I end up with thought of a plastic bag inside my shoulder bag containing everything I'll need for those four days in Jordan and Petra. Type and type, talk and talk, and lower our voices when they turn the TV on in the next room, and then they turn it off when we stop talking loudly ("And about Ester, too," says Dale). I finally catch up at 9:30PM, Dale "jokingly" setting his alarm at 8AM, but I take two aspirin, and think to take two Night Cold Pills to ward off what I increasingly think might be an oncoming cold, though I SURE HOPE NOT! Bed 9:48PM. Probably not to sleep before 10PM.

MONDAY, 11/17/08: Wake with dream about 1:30AM, but don't bother to transcribe it. Hot and sweaty under duvet. Wake again and think a lot about how I'm not feeling THAT bad, and get up at 6:04AM, having gotten marginally over eight hours' sleep, and pee and take the last Fisherman's Friend for sore throat. Finish sketchy dream notes at 6:11AM, sniffing a lot of snot, shirt around my shoulders in the not-that-cold bathroom to help dry my sweat from the overheated bedcovers, and don't even have to get up for the next few hours. Pity I didn't bring more Fisherman's Friend! Counting days: today to Cairo, tomorrow to Amman, next day to Petra, then back to Cairo, then to NYC! Wipe and find VERY dirty toilet paper, but I don't think I shit! Better check sheets! 6:53AM: Must have dozed a bit, since I took off my eyemask and agreed with Dale that it was time to get up about 6:35AM. Told him of my concern about some code number on my new camera disk, and he starts talking about an SD disk, which his camera uses, which is visibly different from my XD disk, which he finds from the worrisome printed material in my new XD-disk container needs only be initialized to use certain SOFTWARE functions like ART and 3-D Panorama, or something like that, and that I should have no trouble merely switching disks to get more picture space. Look down at the "palace beach" next door, which had two young royals sitting in three white plastic chairs (one for his feet) yesterday, but now has only a dog curled up, but now up and galumphing toward what I take to be guest cottages with their back walls against the wall that separates the ring-road below our window from the palace grounds, which we're due to visit this morning before departing for Cairo on the bus. 7:06AM: Take 5-6 pictures from the balcony of the castle and the conurbation beyond, and then figure to start sorting through papers for "keep" and "leave." Finish main repacking by 7:50PM, ready for shit, wash, breakfast. Do those nicely to 8AM. Down to breakfast, waiting for omelet man for fresh omelet, THREE glasses of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a nice chat with Maggie, reading about Lewis and Clark. Back upstairs at 8:30 and suggest to Dale that we tour the Mall, which, of course, is closed this early. Look through barren halls, then back along Corniche-corner road to cross to look at the private beach, seemingly accessible only by crossing the road like chickens, and then back to hotel to see signs for Alphanor on floor 15, and ride up to 14 and up stairs to 15 for views over the city and palace and beach, lots of "normal" reefs being supplemented by concrete blocks to make good bathing for the hotels and locals. Back to room and finish this at 9:30AM, ready for the finale of Alexandria. 9:54AM: Pack by stuffing things into corners, but the bag DOES close, and I put it out at 9:42AM and decide to go down to pay the check, finding no one ahead of me, and pay with Visa, evening up charges between Dale and me, and back upstairs at 9:55AM to find the end of the hallway lined with suitcases ready for 10AM pickup. Keep feeling I want to wash my face! Probably should have used more deodorant, also. BUT I no longer feel that I'm coming down with a cold, YEAH! Now for puzzles before doing puzzles, having put the two Petra articles into my shoulder bag for Maggie on the bus. Finish the Times 10/26 acrostic and the 10/18 Saturday puzzles until 10:35, still left with FOUR almost-done puzzles and TWO yet-to-be-started puzzles (outside the Times puzzle BOOK). Dale goes down to stand with the group. I finish this up and pack it in for the final pee. 10:40AM: BRAINSTORM: put the Neo on file FIVE, so that if junk is put in by inadvertently switching it on, no HARM will be done! I'm LAST down to bus at 10:44AM, identify my luggage, and take last window seat left, on the left, just in front of Dale. Bus goes into palace gardens, take lots of pictures, out of gardens 11:20AM. #1322 final shot of Alexandria Corniche at 11:38AM. Drive toward Cairo, lots of sights, loads of traffic. Stop at 1PM. Spend last 5P note on candy bar, then another shop takes $1 for a nice bag of Doritos cheese chips, licensed from Purchase, NY. Off 1:25PM, feeling OK. 6PM final dinner tonight. Into Cairo traffic 3PM, having closed eyes a few seconds. [Tomorrow: pickup for airport 2PM, take stuff to be left to porter's place at 1PM as a group. Breakfast 6:30-10AM.] Off at Hotel Le Passage 3:30PM, take my own bag DOWN to my room 1023 at 3:54. Puzzles started at 4:03. Dale and I give Tarek $360, Dale gives me $200, but I'm left with only $20 of it. Try last puzzles to 5:30, not really thinking of new answers to old unsolved puzzles, now numbering five. Dress in striped shirt, black pants, "new" shoes, and to lobby at 5:45 to be surprised by NO one in greatly formal ware: Connie about fanciest with a beautiful paisley shawl. To fanciest dining room (Azure) for two tables, Ester talking to everyone (oh, forgot to mention that I ASKED her if she heard me when I said "Hello" as she passed in the hall, and she said that her hearing was bad in that ear and she did NOT hear me. I went on to explain that I thought she was ignoring me, that's why I ignored her, and I apologized, and she seemed to accept it, but I guess she never got over it) but Dale and me, having two glasses of decent red wine with great mushroom soup, OK chicken and vegetables and hard potatoes, apple strudel for dessert, and we sing our final song, Tarek leaves and has to be chased down to be given his tip envelopes, and get back to room at 7:33. By 8:35PM I finish Times 9/20 puzzle, leaving only four unsolved, except for book. Bed 8:45PM, Dale still up, saying, "Do you really want ten hours sleep?" I think so. Dose nose with Vicks, take two night tablets, get to bed and fall asleep fairly quickly.

TUESDAY, 11/18/08: Wake at 1:45AM with terribly stuffed nose. Swallow awful snot and take Neo to bathroom and type yesterday's notes after peeing, and get back to bed without cough drops or aspirin, which I should search for, but I didn't put dop kit in bathroom. Back to bed at 2:10AM. 5:06AM: Up with a trio of dreams I recall, and type them out before blowing my nose and shitting a bit. Peek at clock intermittently, snuffle and cough a LOT for about fifteen minutes, then find Dale in bathroom at 6:46AM and decide to start deleting more photos to get everything on ONE disk, starting with #1336, down to 1195 with a green-video number of 125 left. 8:08AM: down to 1065 from 1336, only 248 left. We compare camera-discard procedures and they're identical. Pee, wash face, dress, and leave for breakfast 8:20AM. The four Texans are enjoying a lit corner table endlessly and exclusively, so I select a table for four near a window which shows a workman carting off an enormous branch which blew down in the wind last night, making me a bit concerned with the wind on the flight this evening, what with a sky that's mostly cloudy this morning. Also re-noted a VERY slight dizziness: sometimes sitting, as if I'm two days off a boat and still recovering from my sea legs; sometimes standing, I take a slight misstep, as if I'm slightly off-balance and have to correct my stance or I'll tip over. Tell it to Dale after I end lunch at 8:50 and return the lengthy hallway to the room, and he says it might be inner-ear difficulty due to my slight cold, but also it's something that tends to increase with age, and of course I tell him that Mom had vertigo in her older age, and that Ken, at 64, has great problems with balance. Ah, the joys of aging! Dale is busily sorting through his pictures to delete, showing me a great one with a crocodile on my head which I ask him to send me, and I prepare to watch television and do my teeth thoroughly now at 9:08AM, time just "rushing by" before our 1PM appointment with the storage facilities of the hotel. Finish teeth at 9:50AM, having watched maybe ten minutes of the end of "Charlotte's Web," starting after she dies. Then terrible world news as Dale continues to delete photos. Guess it's time to pack things into the bottom of his bag for storage. 10:09AM: Packed shoes, a hard-stuff bag, a clothes bag, and a souvenir bag into my enormous black bag and put it AS ONE into Dale's enormous leave-behind bag. My OWN black bag at this point weighs about eighteen pounds. 11:16AM: FINALLY finish fourth-last, 10/25 Times puzzle, LUDICROUSLY hard: Measure of support: ccup? Brunswick stew ingredient: squirrel? Conspirator's cautious conversation starter: arewealone? C'MON! But it DOES take up the TIME! 11:51AM: Absolutely give up on last three unsolved puzzles. 12:45PM: Went into Times puzzle book. Dale out for a walk. I close my bag after washing my face. Beginning to be tired of doing nothing: what is this doing to my walking-around-sightseeing muscles? 1:17PM: Took the big bag up to wait with others for the 1PM luggage-storage routine, and at 12:55PM Ester and Maggie rush in from their trip to town, complaining about traffic, and dash to get their luggage contribution. I wait until 1:05 and go to the Concierge to get the ball rolling JUST as Ahmed shows up to sort of take control of things. We get ONE receipt with a bag-count, not the best idea, but that's what we get---and Ester will probably have the receipt! Confirmed that we meet for the bus at 2PM. Will lunch at the airport, I guess. 1:37PM: Look at answers to finish page 10's puzzle, squeeze out a tiny shit before the airport wait and flight, and Dale leaves to "chat with the ladies" in the lobby. Not me. To lobby 1:50. Restaurant Azure last night. On bus, OFF at airport 2:05. Past first security 2:08. Incredible messy fuss to 2:30 with passports and luggage and guides and attendants. Through passports 2:35. Beano's lunch of beef and cheese and orange juice for 47P at 2:45. 3:10: gate 4 not open till 4PM. At 4:10: "Open in 30 minutes." I go back to second-floor lounge to keep doing puzzles. 5:06 finish page 14 puzzle, people standing to board. Get stub 5:25. Board 5:40, pee, sit between Ester at window, hogging it, and Marylou, in front of wing but over engine. Off 6:04. Puzzle. Dinner of tough chicken and tonic, served fast, start down 6:38. Land 6:59, not much light out window. Off plane 7:08. Get bag 7:23, rather late. Get passport 7:28. On bus 7:35, get water, bus goes 7:38. Guide is Ra-ab: 35 minutes to hotel. One dinar is $1.50, but everyone accepts dollars. Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, from 1921; was Transjordan first till 1946, when it became kingdom. Current king is "son of British wife, not of Queen Noor, who is very respected." It's small: 90,000 square km, or 28,000 square miles, mostly desert, one of the ten driest countries in the world, last winter's 20-day constant frost killed 75% of the produce. Tourism was 14% of income last year. 16% sales tax on everything. Country has 5.8 million people, 38%, over two million, in Amman, most in other two cities. Dale says there are lots of interesting sites. [Tomorrow: wakeup call at 7:30, 8:15 luggage out, leave at 9.] Breakfast in Kempi. To Hotel Kempinski 8:17PM, small talk, bag of loofah soap and 9 brochures which I go back down to make sure we get another copy of them, for which they have to go back to the office, but it's only five minutes away so, he says, it's no problem. Dale wants to walk around, but we have to wait for luggage and brochures. To beautiful room 625 at 8:30, though it has dirty unopenable window, though Dale praises the air conditioning. Wait for luggage by typing from 8:51-9:05PM, not needing the restaurant, but will walk around with Dale for a while, though I'm not sure what he's looking to find. Ra-ab says there are lots of interesting places just steps away. Luggage comes up with ANOTHER UTA bag with a THREE-pack of soap and goody for ME, with the nine brochures, at 9:10PM, and Dale pees before we go out for our walk. Leave room 9:17, walk to entrance, down street to main drag, which TRIES to be elegant with marble fountains, plantings, sculptures, TRYING to be user-friendly with "picnic" areas, some people using it; policemen on horseback with pointy helmets, no problem walking the streets: Bang and Olufson shops, multiple restaurants, but many streets go nowhere. Dale's impressed by the variety of wealth of cars. Back at 10PM to finish this at 10:03 and get to BED! Debate sleeping UNDER duvet on ONE-sheet (NO mattress cover) bed, or ON duvet under "quilt". Bed at 10:20PM. Up to take the stuffing OUT of the duvet; impossible to sleep otherwise. Bed probably at 10:30PM.

WEDNESDAY, 11/19/08: 1:32AM: Wake from dream to pee and type. Nose dripping constantly, dry and clotted inside despite Vicks, which I add again at 1:37AM. Kept awake with dripping nose between 2-4AM, sadly, tossing and turning and snuffling and peeing twice more. Dale's up at 7:15 and goes out to look around, giving me his soap and worry beads, and I get out new socks and spray my shoes and shorts, and throw away my dirty Savoy Boutique Hotel slippers that I've worn for YEARS now, replaced by new, plush, Kempinski slippers, "Hoteliers since 1897," for those who say they never heard of the chain. Wait for wake-up call before going in the shower. Call finally comes at 7:41AM. Type to date and try to shit. Do so satisfactorily, then photo Dale in the elevator, views from the windows, and dash down for a quick omelet, and extra charge for hot chocolate so I chose two cups of tea with about a pint of milk and SIX sugars in all. Four rolls and the ultimate luxury, bien-fait brie and bleu cheese, and dash outside for three photos while Dale talks with guide, and everyone gathers their stuff as I finish this at 8:58, already checked bag at van. BUT I'll be LAST on the bus, TOO BAD!! On bus in FRONT at 9AM, and it turns out to be the best seat once I put the curtains at MY window behind the driver's seat-belt strap and Ra-ab bundles up both his and the curtain behind him into a bunch and knots it and sticks it all into his sunscreen! Total view forward and to the sides! Think I LEFT bottle of water in the room, but later find a SECOND bottle in the bottom of my packed bag, along with a bottle in the Movenpick room that evening. 16 degrees Centigrade by one sign, but it feels warmer than that. #1348 Royal Jordanian Hotel, first of the grand hotels, built in the 1980s, at 9:10. 1.5 million Palestinian refugees in camps on the edge of town, but they CAN integrate if they have the money and want to. They live together: Ra-ab, 100% Jordanian, rents his apartment from a Palestinian. 9:20AM off bus at Citadel. 200AD ruins, Roman for the most part. They found worked stones from 1.5 million years ago. 17,000BC left human remains. 8000BC clay statues. Citadel area first settled in 4300BC, as Ammonite capital, at time of David. Philadelphia became its name in 218BC. Antioch (nearby, on some river, not the Turkish one) founded in 217BC. Hercules (mortal) saved the gods in Olympus from the Titans, who grew a fathom in height each year they lived. Thus the HERCULES temple up an enormous flight of stairs from the theater. 27-36-FOOT statue of Hercules, of which I took pictures of his fingers with Dale lending scale. Ummayids moved Shiite capital to Damascus, away from Mecca in Saudi Arabia of Sunnis(?). Abbasids broke into their own sect in Bagdad. #1369: left 1978, right 1997 photos of top. Ummayids "became" Moors. 10:40 to Museum, fantastic stuff. #1377 "Earliest statue of human from Jericho." Ivory box, from Pella, 1400BC. Copper Dead Sea scrolls! 3900BC wall painting! Statues pre-pottery (plaster and bitumen) Neolithic from 6800BC! Bone decorations for box top. Back to bus 12:15. Tallest flagpole in world: 127 meters. Royal Palace gate. 11:48 to theater museums for twenty minutes. Donkey-skin puppets. Kirdan silver necklace. Back on bus 12:07. Two more museums: Folklore Museum and Jordan Museum of Popular Traditions. Stop at The Housing Bank for Trade and Finance and get 3.5 dinars for $5, they charge three-and-a-half piastres commission and "steal" a half-piastre, or one-third of a cent, on the deal. Out at 12:54, all making change, Maggie changing $60! Lunch at Don Quixote at 1:20 (for one hour), Dale with vegetables, me with mixed grill for 10D each, and my two tonics were 5D ($3.75 each), and Ra-ab says we should leave tip: he suggests 3D, which I don't have, so he shoves them into my hand and refuses to take them back when Dale gives me 3D, saying "I want to make you feel guilty." #1421 potash industry 3:23 on long drive from Amman to Petra. Stop at Al Hisa 4-4:25, where I risk not peeing because I don't have a quarter-diram to give to smiling guy with toilet paper at door of men's room. Hills start after stop. Already getting dark when we pass sign for Petra 57km at 4:53PM. [Tomorrow wake-up call at 7AM, meet at 8:30 to try to FOLLOW most groups into Petra; average 5000/day in high season, which this is the end of.] Wadi Mousa is enormous in the dark, and he says it has 18,000 people! I expected a tiny unoccupied corner of the desert! To Movenpick Hotel at 5:45, to room 307 at 5:55, look at Dale's great Petra book he got for 12D, or $18, at the rest stop, until 6:08. Fuss with unpacking and getting tomorrow's stuff ready and bathroom stuff out until 6:52, and type and talk to 7:20. Down to restaurant to be shown table by Ra-ab, have good selection of foods, cheeses, fruit, and dessert, but leave at 8:05 with a SCREAMING baby whose screams follow me up the elevator and across the third-floor hallway! At 8:35 I finish reducing #1427 down to 1103, with 220 left for tomorrow at Petra. I think I can do it, after all, 220 is about SIX rolls of film! But I'll take extra disk and instruction book along JUST IN CASE! Continue typing, feeling that I'm getting close to the end of file 2. My nose is dripping more and more, so I take two night-cold pills at 9PM, finish this at 9:04PM, and decide to brush my teeth, putting on TV now that my batteries have been recharged in their sockets. Dale returns with 50 5-piastre coins he got "free" (no charge) from an exchange place, we fuss with the television, and I get morning pills and exchange beds when Dale says it's warm and puts the A/C on level 1. I finish this at 9:43PM, wash face, and get to bed by 9:50PM. Again toss from side to side a number of times before getting to sleep, thinking that tomorrow will finally bring the aim of the trip: Petra, into my experience.

THURSDAY, 11/20/08: Wake a few times, but don't have to pee. Finally get out of bed at 2:58AM, having "slept" over five hours, and type more of a thought than a dream. Nose drips onto my chest; throat sore from dryness and/or a cold; bed sweaty. Today's the day! Doze off, wake, hear Dale clear his throat and wonder if it's time to get up: check my watch and it's only 5:45, but decide to type my dream. 7:12AM: Must have dozed through Dale's shower. Wake and look at my watch at 6:55 and Dale's getting dressed, and JUST as my watch clicks over to 7AM HIS alarm rings and the PHONE rings, a marvelous coincidence of three "7AM"s. Shit quite a bit, rather strange since my stomach felt hungry and EMPTY, rather than full, and put in a guard-paper just in case. [To file 3 11/20/08 at 7:15AM.] Out of bathroom to find Dale gone, so I put on a "new" shirt and type to 7:16AM. Move around and feel urge to shit AGAIN to 7:26AM, progressively softer: I hope nothing's going wrong! Dale returns; it's chilly and cloudy out as I leave for breakfast at 7:34AM. Table's full, with Jerry by my side in my last night's Daddy-seat, and Jane (AH, Jerry and Jane!) across the table. Omelet line's long, so I have lovely orange slices and bleu cheese, order hot chocolate because head waiter said it was orderable, but don't get it by the time I get my omelet with everything, and not even when I'm almost finished, having asked a SECOND waiter, who smiles sarcastically, repeating, "Hot chocolate?" and have a cup of tea. Complain to the head, who asks me to identify the culprits, which I don't want to do, but end up pointing out my table and saying it was two of the tea servers. He seemed to know, thanked me, and I got back to the room at 8:13 to find Dale IN his jacket, complaining that he's warm, watching, and I finish this to 8:19, deciding I can leave my name-list behind at last, since Maryann, Carol's dark-haired friend, is the last name I learned. Put on shoes and leave room at 8:26AM. We all wait around for Ellie, who's last at 8:30, begging she had to let a full elevator pass. Tickets for Petra are 21D/day, over $30, which Dale observes Ra-ab has to get by credit card from one of two "observers" who come alone with us until we reach the Treasury. We get to the map at 8:32. 9:03: In 700BC the CHINESE record Arabians (Naboteans?) moving toward Petra, where Ammonites (?) were weakening. In 400BC some Sicilian (Deodatus?) describes Naboteans as nomadic pirates. In 312BC a Greek (Antigonus?) has his army killed by "Selucids" in Cella. When Romans tried to get to Yemen for wealth, they had to bypass Naboteans. In 1AD a Roman (Flavius?) described the culture in this area. Main Petra flourished 316BC-168AD (?). No written records by Naboteans (found yet) make all conjecture difficult. Many points of interest even BEFORE we get to the Siq, which is rather a surprise. Also, the HUGE numbers of people are a shock: places where they're trying to sell horse rides ONLY to the entrance of the Siq, where they dash past us in carriages until we get to the narrow entrance. Caves are "Djinn blocks" because of the whistling noises they make when winds blow past them: they were actually shaft tombs. Obelisk tomb features not obelisks but Nafishes, which indicate the number of bodies buried inside. Triclinium below, where people met and dined. Inscription has three Nabotean lines followed by two GREEK lines. Enter Siq at 9:35AM, surrounded by others, all nationalities, and Arabs selling donkey rides, horse rides, carriage rides, and even souvenirs, to give the lie to Dale's observation that they've really left us alone in Jordan without hassling us. Dale says the yellow color in the fantastically veined and eroded wall is limonite, Ra-ab says the black is magnetite, the cement between the layers, picture at 10:21. I could have taken a dozen pictures of the colors in the walls themselves, and the artistic patterns caused by the widening and narrowing of veins of purple, yellow, brown, and tan. Ra-ab stops often to talk, letting others go past, particularly at the shrine which is facing INTO the Siq to appeal to people LEAVING. We're going slowly to explain everything, people passing all the time. It goes on a bit longer than we would have thought, some overhead views really astounding, amazing that the last seven or eight feet were excavated down to the NABATEAN paving stones after 9/11, when tourism to Jordan just about vanished. Lots of information about the drainage ditches on varying levels on both sides of the Siq, lots of talk about diverting flash floods at many, many levels. Finally there's a glimpse of pink ahead, and I start taking pictures in earnest. Impressive entrance, as advertised, for the Treasury, though I crack Ra-ab up when he stops us to explain a wall as part of the elaborate flash-flood protection, both past and present, but I looked at the plain brick wall and commented, "I sort of expected more of the Treasury." The pavement lies 21 meters below, put back to allow entrance to the Treasury, which was erected later, with one column restored, as depicted by the drawings from the first European discoverer which I'm delighted to find in the back of the book on Petra that I bought for $9. #1487 Street of Arcades 11:14. Many tombs at many levels, sometimes on top of each other, sometimes being restored. A few times take a picture of the description before taking pictures of the described. Pre #1532 are Royal Tombs, the Urn on the right, prisons below, others described in the book that I bought because I've lost my Petra booklet and Dale didn't bring his (!), paying $9 for it when it's later advertised as low as 5D, which would be $7.50, but maybe they're selling an earlier or cheaper edition: I like mine because it includes the drawings by the guy who first saw it before reconstructions. Christianity mentioned here in 447AD, told at 11:58. #1533: Mother of Waters, source of 67 cisterns in city, 12:03. Start lunch at 12:15. [Tomorrow: wake-up call 6:30, luggage out 7:15, leave 8AM. Dinner tonight at 7:30.] Quick bite of a few things: fish smells off, I try broiled corn, but ask for it black and it's inedible, but chicken bit was tasty, and paid 2.60D for tonic, getting eight 5P coins to add to my stack. Eat quick and Ra-ab says we should start back from here at 3PM. Start climb to Monastery at 1:08, amid a HORDE of people, donkeys, sellers. Exhausted to Monastery at 2:04, one hour exact, having caught sight of the urn on top when I was despairing of ever making it. Pictures of it, but then there's the "View," which I remember Ra-ab saying we should see, and climb higher and higher to the rightmost of three viewpoints looking out, they say, over Saudi Arabia and "The End of the World." That goes to 2:28, taking pictures, exhausted, almost falling off the peak when some stupid bitch asks me to move out of her picture. Back to the Monastery to rest a bit, and start back at 2:40, knowing we have no chance of getting back when we should. Realize at the top that we missed the turn-off for The Lion, but I figure I'm so tired we can miss it, but when I get to the sign that describes it, it's up a narrow path that I can't resist going up, and in fact it affords, for a bit, privacy so that we can both pee, which we both badly needed. Pictures there, cursing when I step in HUMAN shit which had been disguised under toilet paper, and scrape most of it off on the way out just when a group of French are coming in, having the NERVE to say, "Smells like someone used it for a latrine." Back out at 3:25, getting down to the museum at 3:28-3:38, no photos permitted, but there are a few interesting pieces. Leave Brown University's reconstructed Great Temple, after climbing even MORE stairs with even MORE discomfort, at 4PM exactly. To the Siq at 4:30, everyone rushing past, leaving. But better than going up having to watch your back from mules laden with tourists dashing up behind you, in one case knocking a tourist down, which I didn't see. Each step is more and more painful, and I'm actually starting to wonder what will happen if I can't make it. Didn't remember the parallel track for carriages and horses until it reappeared, and IT went on forever, sky getting darker and darker, and path perversely more and more crowded. Finally into the hotel at 5:09, simply taking off my shoes and socks and lying down on the bed, folded at the knees, hoping that I haven't damaged the soles of my feet. When I'm slightly recovered, I think the best thing will be a soak in the tub, so Dale goes out shopping and I run the water in while putting things away, and soak from 5:30-6:23, taking a shower afterwards and putting on my last clean shorts, leaving the clean socks for tomorrow. Dinner from 7:20-7:55, Ester INSISTING on sitting at the table for couples, making them sit at a table for SEVEN, while Maggie has to be content sitting at our table for five, which is convenient, because I can fill my water bottle from the second two-liter bottle given by a generous waiter. Nothing really much to eat except dessert, where the hot dessert is much the best. Puzzles 8:01-9:22 just to digest, and get to bed, sore-hipped, at 9:25PM.

FRIDAY, 11/21/08: Pee at 4:06AM, nose stuffed, sneeze 3-4 times, and "doctor" with Vicks, lip balm, aspirin, and more night pills to 4:22AM. Pee at 6:15, just before Dale goes into the john, and shit at 6:22. Type 6:28-6:48, not nearly caught up, check that I should take a half-melatonin at 7AM, set up my schedule for the next few days, and put the bag out at 7:11, Dale's having already been picked up. Leave room at 7:23, polishing shoes on the machine as best I can, taking care that it doesn't separate my loose heel from the rest of the shoe. Too many people at the station to wait for an omelet, so I have cheese and cold cuts, and out to find they won't change $100 into dollars, just dinars, and that my bag isn't down yet, reports Jerry. I tell the bellhop, but it still doesn't come down. Ra-ab reports it, and it's finally down at 7:57, on bus 8AM. Room 321 has a false charge at 8:01. They charged Carol $16 for a Sprite delivered to her room. Yesterday's lunch's half-bottle of wine was $22. Leave 8:07, 67 pictures left. Leave Wadi Mousa with farewell photos at 8:20. 120 meters in altitude difference between the Siq and the restaurant, and 400 meters up to the Monastery. See Shobat Crusader's Castle from a distance. "King's Road over 3000 years old," and some king did the valley road of 18 kilometers in great style. #1642 cement factory, "owned not by King, but by the government, which means the people." 9:15: random police check points pull cars over. Three two-bladed wind turbines. Cross the Hejaz railway (1903?). Dusty-smoggy purple haze obscures horizon under clouds. I forgot my AIRLINE papers for the FLIGHT tonight (but so did Dale, and Ra-ab calls to find that it'll be OK). Karak Fort 10:45, at 1200 meters, and I severely restrict photos. This was at the high part of the Moabite empire. Fatimids separated from Abbasides in Bagdad and set up rule in Cairo. Every new leader became a new Sunni/Shiite division. Crusaders killed 70,000 Christians in Jerusalem in about 1103, end of first crusade. Depression in Europe and wealth of family NOT to any but oldest son gave good reason for going on a crusade for plunder and wealth. De Chatillon, who ruled Shobat, married the princess of Karak, defied the King of Jerusalem, disregarded treaties, and did NOT respect his enemies, as the Arabs did. Saladin captured sources of WATER and destroyed the Crusaders, depriving Chatillon of WATER for being cruel. This goes to 12:10, a bit too long. "Two hours to next stop," so everyone goes in to pee again, where I throw in 15P after she demanded an outrageous half-dinar, or seventy-five cents! Leave 12:14. 7:35PM flight tonight. I was SORE climbing stairs! Mujib Dam off King's Highway. 18km in and out of valley. Flag: black: Abbesaids, white: the Prophet, green: Ummayids, red: Hashemites, and seven-pointed star for the seven verses of the first chapter of the Koran. Mosaic map made at 550AD, per buildings and churches in its representation of Jerusalem, then the center of the world. Lunch in Madaba Restaurant Haret Jdoudna 2:05-2:55, lots of good appetizers, EVERYONE but Dale and me eating greens, and lots of chicken and beef and water. Church map to 3:35, first Ester then Carol driving me mad by going off after the group's gathered waiting to go. 3:54 to Mt. Nebo to 4:25, VERY cloudy horizon, where he SAYS we can see the towers of Jerusalem, but I can't, can BARELY see the shores of the Dead Sea, which HAD been, say, 407 meters below sea level and is now 421 meters below due to evaporation. "We need to be at airport by 6PM." Mt. Nebo only 720 meters high. Mosaic factory 4:30-4:55, not much bought, but I have a good soft shit in a clean john. Check camera at #1685, 32 pictures left. To airport 5:40, guide Edward waiting for us, facilitating our checking luggage, helping me get a window seat, and showing us the way to Gate 10, which when we get there at 5:55 is still closed. I sit and type to date to 6:39, ready to pack up and try to go through gate. They decide to go through MY bag, and I sit and type until 6:54, when everyone gets up to board. Board at 7:01, Ester on AISLE next to Dale, HA! Horrible LOUD American pop vocal music I put in earplugs against. 1:15 flight announced as I sudoku. Back out 7:27, NO one next to me in 37A, but windows VERY dirty and clouded. Off 7:38, lights stop at edge of Amman, and chicken is STONE COLD: was it that way before? Look at lights along what might be Suez, according to the map that comes on TV after what seem to be interminable ads without sound, and brightly-lit boats, seemingly. Land 8:40, 20 degrees Centigrade, after miles of VERY brightly-lit Cairo, but no signs of pyramids, though many waterways that might have been part of Nile. Off plane 8:55, on line fast, but immigration guy asks where my visa is, says the one I have is only one-time, and I have to go to the bank to buy another for $15. Pass people from group who say that an Odyssey person met and TOLD them that; they wondered how I got in line so fast. Back to bank, pay my $15, back in line, to carousel 6 for bag eventually at 9:19, board bus 9:30. [Tomorrow: wake-up call 5:30, luggage out and breakfast at 6AM, leave 6:30---a bit extreme for a 10:10AM flight!] At 9:45, room 3010 is a SINGLE queen-size bed. Huffily to desk, told "room in 20 minutes." I look aghast, Dale mentions Odyssey group, and we get room 2092 quickly. Dale finds bags on the way to 3010 and we transfer at 9:59:50! Take night pills and Valium at 10:07. Close bag miraculously at 10:27!! Take two cold pills and ambien at 10:35, bed at 10:37, Dale still working. Sleep quickly.

SATURDAY, 11/22/08: Sleep THROUGH night to 5:04, when Dale gets up to bathroom. I go in for tiny shit at 5:14, squeeze pillbox and dop kit into bag by the time the wake-up call comes at 5:30. Type from 5:35-5:45, Dale puts out his bag, and I follow immediately. 5:48: I put bag out, Dale chatters on, takes single key to breakfast while I put shoes on and take cold pills and another valium at 5:50AM. Wash face, using hotel shower cap, put last things into bag, deciding to take it with me to breakfast, and shit AGAIN at 5:55AM. Loose shit, stuff toilet paper in, and had to flush MANUALLY inside casing to get it to flush down! Leave room 6:02AM. Take one-half melatonin at 6:20. I have to RESCUE my plate that the over-zealous waiter took when I was only making a trip for more hot chocolate. Finish FULL breakfast 6:27, by far the last person at the table. On bus 6:37. Sunrise about 6:30. To airport 6:45. SIT, waiting for bags and/or gate at 6:52, everyone but me chatting away; Bill and Ann going business class but oddly couldn't reserve their seats AHEAD until they got here this morning. HUGE snake-line waiting for airport to open at 7:02. MANY from OAT. Many forehead rug-burns. Gate opens 7:13. Get luggage inside at 7:26. 7:39 they finally open desks 3-5, but close two others right after. My black bag is 14.9kg, about 33 pounds, not as much as it feels. Get boarding pass for seat 48A by 7:47. Odyssey guide was actually helpful with details, as Ra-ab had NOT been. 7:50: Wait before gates. Through passport check 7:58. Buy $36 one-liter Grand Marnier (check NYC price! [$47]) to 8:13. They have NO Amaretto or Amarula, and Kahlua is $29 [EXACTLY what it is in Brooklyn]! Others absent; only a poor choice available, and this is the ONLY duty-free shop with liquor. To gate 5 at 9:16, closed of course. Do ALL Tribune puzzles by 9:47, which newspaper we got in free plastic bags at luggage claim last night. Boarding started long before, but line remains long. Board at 10:06, pee, Dale talking to poor Indian woman between us constantly. They announce a flight-time of 11:45. Television plays the same ads as on the plane last night. Back out at 10:18. Make HSBC check #1590 to Dale for $138, dated 11/25. TWO screaming babies for whom I put in earplugs. Lips iced, long-sleeve shirt off, nose Vicksed, map of flight pattern torn out, camera ready, notes written by 10:30. NO individual TVs, WELL behind wing, six rows from rear. Off at 10:35AM, which should put us in JFK at 10:20PM, minus seven hours, or 3:20PM. And now the time to destination is 3:36, which added to my watch of 6:42 is 10:18PM, remarkably close. GREAT flight over Cairo, pyramids in view both close up, which I just manage to focus on to get the EDGE of, and again in the far distance after the plane turns, but they're too far away to focus on, though I can SEE them quite clearly in the midst of the surrounding buildings, though I can't make out the Sphinx OR the Nile there. Then over GREEN lands of the delta, margins of circular irrigation patterns, sometimes with a DISTINCT line between the green and the desert tan, then sadly west of Alexandria to the BLUE of the Mediterranean, bordered by the sheer monotony of the sandy beaches, even without surf at this altitude, of western Egypt and Libya at 11AM. "Breakfast" of a very thick fried egg, potato patty, meat patty, wiener, and some kind of rice pudding, served for me with apple juice along with the mango juice in the box and later tea, from 11:30-12, still watching the far Libyan shoreline fade into the clouds of the southern horizon. TVs start with movies, and stewards comes past TWICE to tell me to close my shade, and the Indian to my right says she enjoyed the way I simply said, "No." Cloudy Sardinia at 12:15 with mountain peaks showing through the clouds with dirt roads climbing windingly to their tops? At 12:25 it hits me: I forgot to get out my house keys! Definite mountains at 12:51. Spain? 2:07 clouds and now CLEAR water, at about one-third into the flight, so I guess we've only got the Atlantic left. Start proofreading file 1, but glance out at 2:12 over a distant-west COAST, and peaks that are clear and SNOWY, clearly Spain or France, of which I take photos to #1699 to 2:34, 22 left, now CLEARLY over the Atlantic. Though it's totally cloud covered, we're over one-third home. Finish proofing file one by 3:49. Finish proofing file two at 4:46, JUST as "lunch" comes; yes, about five hours after "breakfast," but still only 9:46AM NYC time. Bypass meat and chicken for shrimp, which is actually GOOD, with rice sprinkled with peas, a glass of 7-Up followed by another tea with extra sugar from Dale and an extra creamer from Miss India. Finish at 5:10. Also get a glass of water: throat becoming sore, and almost needing an excuse to get up to pee. Proofread file three 5:12-5:35. Stand to pee 5:38-5:50, door slightly off the floor-skid, corners of the floor WET for my stocking feet (and, when I sit, the back of my right pant-leg), which I try to dry with a napkin, but rush, knowing there are a half-dozen people waiting in line outside. Shit a bit, but feel satisfied. Proof files eight and seven 5:54-6:25, and then decide to catch up on these notes, awkward with so little space, until 6:58, leaving a big space so I know where to start proofing THIS. Do that until 7:06, just over three hours left. Time for sudoku! Ocean still TOTALLY under clouds. Well, puzzles were handier. Get cake and juice at 9:11. At 9:46 change watch to 2:46PM. 1EC in NYC. Land at 3:27PM. Still taxiing at 3:35: a half-day moving on the plane! Stop at dock at 3:38. Off plane 3:51. Onto immigration line 3:56-4:10. To baggage 4:11-4:36. On taxi line 4:38-4:45. Get into cab with Pakistani talking on his headphones the whole way, while I tear suitcase apart to locate apartment keys, FINALLY finding them at 5:03, but having to jam clothes into shoulder bag to close black bag. Don't have to worry about being cold with the activity! Back at 5:44PM to room. Bill Petersen is in lobby and tells me that the center elevator FELL from the top, with no one in it [and on 11/26 see sign that says it will be repaired by 12/10!], and that I should come to his apartment to pick up the Times. Get it by 6:06, at 27E. Dinner from the freezer from 6:48, and j/o 7:25-8:03, getting exhausted into bed at 8:28PM: 3:28AM Cairo time! Rest in NOTEBOOK.



SUN,11/2/08: Fly JFK to Cairo starting at 9PM.
MON,11/3/08: Arrive Cairo 2:03PM (10:03 flight). Dinner at Blue Nile.
TUE,11/4/08: Semiramis Intercontinental Night and Day Restaurant breakfast. Egyptian Museum 9-12:02PM. "The Place" boat lunch. Tour Suspended Church and Ben Ezra Synagogue, then mall. Dinner in Semiramis Pane e Vino Restaurant.
WED,11/5/08: Pyramids and Solar Boat Museum, Valley Temple, Memphis Museum, lunch in Sakkara Restaurant tent. Tombs of Mereruka and Titi, Step Pyramid, and Oriental Carpet School. Cafe Corniche in Semiramis for very early dinner.
THU,11/6/08: Cairo tour: Muhammed Ali Mosque, Citadel, city sights, Ahmed Ibn Tulun Mosque to cupola. Mermaid lunch. Pizza dinner in Semiramis early.
FRI,11/7/08: 2:15AM wake-up call. Fly Cairo-Aswan 4:53-5:53, before sunrise. Bus to Abu Simbel 7:03-9:36AM. Abu Simbel to 11:12. To Prince Abbas ship restaurant for lunch. Video fly-clouds and dinner on ship.
SAT,11/8/08: Sail past Abu Simbel and Ksar Ibreem. Walk Amada and El Derr and Benut Tombs. Cocktails. Birthday and anniversary celebrations at dinner and show.
SUN,11/9/08: Valley of Lions at 7:30AM. Islam meeting. Watch river life. Aswan DVD in lounge. Lots of puzzles to take up time.
MON,11/10/08: Tour Aswan Dam and Kalabsha Temple. Papyrus shop. Nubian Museum great. Dinner in Aswan with Tarek and four others.
TUE,11/11/08: Philae Temple and felucca ride. Another sketchy Nubian show.
WED,11/12/08: Launch to Tombs of the Landlords and Kitchener Island and Nubian village. Puzzles and lock-traversals and Nile River cruising to Kom Ombo.
THU,11/13/08: Edfu Temple. Modern Egypt meeting. Watch "I, Robot." Tour Luxor at night, dinner at 8:24 and bed after 9PM, Dale setting alarm for 4:20AM.
FRI,11/14/08: On mini-tram to Rameses IV tomb, Ramses IX, Ramses I, Ramses VI. to Hatshepsut's Temple 8:03-9AM. To Valley of Queens for Ramasseum Mortuary Temple, Titi's Tomb, Amen-Khopshef Tomb, buy book, Luxor and Karnak during the day. Lunch on ship, back to Karnak. Luxor Museum; buy book "Luxor." Pay bill.
SAT,11/15/08: 4AM wake-up call for balloon. Ride 5:55-6:51AM, lots of photos. Fly Luxor-Cairo 10:18-11:06AM. Bus to Alexandria 11:58-4:50PM. Check into Sheraton Montazah on Corniche. Dinner at Housy's with half the group.
SUN,11/16/08: Catacombs of Kom El-Shuqafa, Roman theater and ruins, Library of Alexandria 10:41-12:19, and lots of places along Corniche. Lunch of fish in Kadoura Restaurant. La Mamma dinner in Sheraton Hotel.
MON,11/17/08: Visit hotel roof, then see local palace grounds before driving back to Cairo 11:20AM-3:30PM to Hotel Le Passage at airport. Puzzles and final dinner in Azure Restaurant with no one really well-dressed. Bed 8:45AM.
TUE,11/18/08: Puzzles all morning. Edit photos. Beano's lunch at Cairo airport. Fly Cairo-Amman 6:04-6:59PM, dinner, but no views. Beautiful Hotel Kempinski.
WED,11/19/08: Tour Amman Citadel and great museum, theater and two local museums, change money. Lunch at Don Quixote. Bus to Petra 2:20-5:45 to Movenpick Hotel for screaming-baby restaurant to 8:05PM. Edit photos; type.
THU,11/20/08: Petra 8:32, to Treasury about 10:30AM. Lunch inside, to Monastery on exhausting walk 1:08-2:04, then to View at End of World to 2:28, start down 2:40, to The Lion Temple, then Museum, then Great Temple, to Siq at 4:30, to hotel 5:09, totally exhausted. Lie in bed, then take bath, dinner, and puzzles.
FRI,11/21/08: Leave Petra 8:20AM, to Shobat Crusader's Castle, Hejaz Railway, Karak Fort, Mujib Dam on King's Highway. Restaurant Haret Jdoudna in Madaba for lunch. Mt. Nebo and mosaic factory. Fly Amman-Cairo 7:38-8:40PM, lots of lights and dinner. Change rooms in La Passage, pack for leaving, bed at 10:37PM.
SAT,11/22/08: Wake-up call 5:30AM. Luggage out. Breakfast and to airport 7:02AM. Off at 10:35AM, great views of Cairo, Libyan coast, mountains in Spain and France, lunch and dinner on plane, proofread Neo files, puzzles, land at 3:27PM, for 11:52 flight. Taxi home at 5:44PM and last until 8:28PM before bed.