Ever since release of the movie "Bucket List" in 2008 with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, many people have made their own personal bucket lists of things to do in their lives. Fifty-two years later, I recently crossed one item off my list when I traveled to Egypt.
Our journey began in Cairo. I wasn't certain what to expect, but I was shocked to say the least by how dirty the air was, with pollution from thousands of motorized vehicles, as well as dirt and garbage. Traffic is terrible, although it does move at a decent rate, and people do not drive in marked lanes, and they make three lanes out of two. Oddly enough, drivers squeeze in and out of traffic with less than an inch to spare in any direction. Being a pedestrian is taking your life into your own hands. Pedestrians walk between moving vehicles to cross the street, they do not use crosswalks.
A trip to Giza was first (from our hotel, we could see the Pyramids about 40 miles away), with our guide stopping at an Egyptian school for carpet making along the way. Watching students of all ages, from 10 on up, learning at the school was fascinating. Even the very young students had tremendous hand dexterity and worked at lightning speed.
From the school we continued to the Pyramids. It is hard to wrap one's head around how they were built without modern equipment, the stones alone weigh hundreds of tons each. It's amazing that the Pyramids and nearby structures were built to such perfection. How did they accomplish their tasks with the tools they had? Their tools were made from various kinds of rock depending on what they were building and the types of rocks they were chiseling.
Just as fascinating are the stories told through hieroglyphics; they give the modern human race an insight as to what life was like in those days. These ancient structures still hold undiscovered treasures. Today, additional ruins and hidden treasures are still being uncovered in Egypt; in fact, a new discovery was made just a few weeks before our arrival.
Part of our experience included a four-day trip down the Nile River, which was full of debris that was making its way to the ocean. I believe it is important to take care of our planet, but what bothers me more than anything is the majority of the onus is on the United States when all countries need to be held responsible. Unfortunately, all of the trash, including large amounts of plastic, soured my view of Egypt. I am surprised people who are so intelligent and ingenious have not implemented a method to trap the trash before it gets to the ocean.
A highlight for me was going through a lock on our way to Aswan, it was a similar experience to going through lock thirteen on the Mississippi River.
Egypt made the decision to save two temples before beginning actual construction of the new Aswan Dam, built across the Nile between 1960 and 1970. The project of moving the two temples began by numbering each rock and moving the top portion first. Remember, each stone weighs hundreds of tons. Scientists and engineers at least enjoyed the resources of hydropower and heavy equipment the original builders did not. The structures are magnificent and amazing, they were absolutely worth saving.
Our trip to Egypt was well worth it, but visiting the Pyramids and ruins requires stamina and a lot of walking on uneven surfaces for long distances. It was nothing for us to walk an average of three and a half miles and four to six flights of stairs a day.
Next week: Al Sturgeon
Charese Yanney of Sioux City is owner and managing partner of Guarantee Roofing, Siding and Insulation Co. She serves on the Siouxland Initiative Executive Committee, the Orpheum Theatre Preservation Board, the Orpheum Theatre Endowment Board and the Iowa Department of Transportation Commission.