Egypt Adventure


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EL SALLOUM, EGYPT
Eclipse watching near the Libyan border.
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Salloum: Our tent camp.
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Salloum: Inside our tent camp. Due to a scheduling snafu, our camp lacked sleeping pads for many of our colleagues. We, however, got lucky and had a beautiful Egyptian rug and blanket. While it was not exactly soft, it was acceptable. Loraine looks a bit tired in this picture, indicating that it was pretty darn miserable.
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Salloum: Eclipse camp was very fancy. We ate wonderful buffet meals in the middle of the desert inside this tent. Note the carpets on the floor and the fancy table cloths inside.
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Salloum: Our ecliipse-watching spot in the desert. We had a nice blanket and carpet set up.
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Salloum: Watching the partial eclipse through special filter glasses. While the sun is only partially covered, it's still very bright. However, once the eclipse hit totality, it was comfortable enough that we could safely take off the filters and look directly at the Sun's delicate corona.
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Salloum: Loraine's eclipse t-shirt. The tiny holes in the mesh act like little pinhole cameras. Holes that normally appear as circles show up as little half moons.
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Salloum: The tiny holes in the mesh act like little pinhole cameras. Holes that normally appear as circles show up as little half moons.
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Salloum: eclipse shadows inside the food tent.
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Salloum: Loraine's crossing hands act like pinhole cameras in the partial eclipse while Matt projects the image from his binoculars on the shadow of her hands.
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Salloum: With no trees in site, we projected the shadow of the sagebrush to watch the shadows of the partial eclipse.
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Salloum: With no trees in site, we projected the shadow of the sagebrush to watch the shadows of the partial eclipse.
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Salloum: Matt used the binoculars to help watch the eclipse's evolution. It sits rubber-banded to a short camera tripod sitting on a limestone block, rigged up using the only available supplies.
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Salloum: We were not alone watching the eclipse as the bright sunny day slowly got a bit dimmer.
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Salloum: Sagebrush shadow shows eclipse approaching totality.
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Salloum: Night fell in minutes during the eclipse, leaving a 360 degree sunset.
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Salloum: Matt snapped this shot of the eclipse. It turned out fairly well, though it definitely does not capture the entire scene.
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Salloum: Our eclipse watching crew shortly after totality ended. Note the smiles!
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Siwa Oasis, Temple of the Oracle of Siwa: A massive expanse of palm trees rises out of the desert.

SIWA OASIS
On the edge of the great sand sea.
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Siwa Oasis, Temple of the Oracle of Siwa
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Siwa Oasis, Cleopatra's bath -- a 20 foot deep pool that was perfect for cooling off.
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Siwa Oasis, Shali town: A mud brick town largely destroyed during a single 3-day rain storm in 1927.

ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT

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Alexandria, on the Mediterranean coast.
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Alexandria, Roman ampitheater and baths.
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Alexandria, Pompey's Pillar. This is a single pillar rising into the sky at a hilltop. Sort of interesting, but kind of odd. Loraine and our friend Yan Lee are near its base, for scale.
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Alexandria, site of Pharos (light house). Though it was completely destroyed by earthquakes in the 1300's, after nearly 1000 years in service. Descriptions and drawings allow them to determine its shape and size. It probably would have been as large as this modern fort at its base, but about stood about 40 stories tall.
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Alexandria, Serapeum near Pompey's Pillar. Our guide claimed that this was a small "branch library" or "daughter library" of the Great Alexandria Library and that these insets in the walls contained papyrus scrolls, an idea supported by a sign on the site. Web searching however, reveals that archeologists are uncertain about the existence of a library at this site. If it was here, it was destroyed at a similar time and under similar circumstances to the main library -- destroyed by a Christian mob.
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Alexandria, the New Library Building. These walls are said to contain symbols from every known alphabet on earth.
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Alexandria, the New Library: The fountain in the foreground mimics the Mediterranean visible beyond the palm trees. The architecture is said to evoke the image of a second rising sun.
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Alexandria, the New Library: Loraine checks her watch against the Library's sundial. A modern planetarium is behind her.
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Alexandria, Mosque of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi: This was the first mosque we went inside, though we couldn't go together because men and women remained segregated. Loraine viewed the massive dome from behind a grated screen while Matt wondered through the vast open space beneath it. Though a very ancient site, this structure was rebuilt in 1943.
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Alexandria, Mosque of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi: View of the dome.
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Alexandria, Protest: While driving by, we spotted this very well organized and peaceful student protest. Men lined the streets with signs while men and women chanted protest slogans together. Hundreds of police in riot gear stood by, though most of the protesters were seated peacefully. Women sat separate from men, but were active participants.
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Alexandria, Protest: While driving by, we spotted this very well organized and peaceful student protest. Men lined the streets with signs while men and women chanted protest slogans together. Hundreds of police in riot gear stood by, though most of the protesters were seated peacefully. Women sat separate from men, but were active participants.
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Alexandria, Protest: While driving by, we spotted this very well organized and peaceful student protest. Men lined the streets with signs while men and women chanted protest slogans together. Hundreds of police in riot gear stood by, though most of the protesters were seated peacefully. Women sat separate from men, but were active participants.

CAIRO and GIZA, EGYPT

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Cairo, Khan el-Khalili Bazaar: This very old market was hopping with tourist traps and aggressive shopkeepers.
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Cairo, Al Azhar mosque: One of the oldest mosques in Cairo and home to the oldest University in the world (first lecture 975 CE), Matt explored this mosque on a Saturday afternoon.
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Cairo, Al Azhar Mosque: One of the reasons mosques are so beautiful is that they are wide open (no furniture). This one could fit about 10,000 congregants for Friday prayers.
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Cairo, Bab Zuweila minaret: Matt sits perched high above Islamic Cairo, with the Citadel in the background. This view really gives a feel for the city. The minaret goes to an even higher level, but he was afraid to go up any higher on the spindly spire.
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Cairo, Bab Zuweila minaret:The view over Islamic Cairo gives a good feel for the city. Note the trash on the rooftops.
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Cairo, Bab Zuweila minaret:The view over Islamic Cairo gives a good feel for the city. Note the trash on the rooftops.
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Cairo, Shaar Hashamaim Synagogue: Matt visited this synagogue for Shabbat. Though guidebooks claim this is the only operating synagogue in town, there were no services on this weekend because there were no people. The caretaker showed me around personally, and said that there were once many congregants, all of whom were very wealthy. After the establishment of Israel, most left. Now there are very few, and they are very poor. Photos were not allowed of the interior or exterior of the building. There were about a dozen police officers guarding it with large guns, so I decided not to push my luck too much. I snuck a photo from this ally.
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Cairo: A produce market near Khan el Khalili bazaar.
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Cairo: Clock inside the metro station illustrating that Arabic numbers are not actually the same as the "Arabic" numbers that we learn.
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Cairo: Women waiting for the women's only car at the front of the train. The metro system was extremely clean without almost a single piece of trash. This stands in stark contrast to the rest of the city.
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Cairo, Ben Ezra Synagogue: Rumored to be the oldest synagogue in the world, this is also the supposed site where Pharoah's daughter found Moses in the bullrushes.
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Cairo, View of Giza Pyramids from Siag Pyramids Hotel balcony. The air quality was so incredibly poor that we could hardly see the pyramids on some days.
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Cairo, Great Pyramids of Giza.
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Cairo, Pyramids of Giza: Look at the size of those blocks!
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Cairo, Great Pyramids of Giza: Solar Boat. This boat was buried next to the largest pyramid, complete with ropes for rigging that were well preserved beneath the sand. It was reassembled and restored in this museum next to the pyramid. Note the fun shoes designed to reduce the dust.
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Cairo, Pyramids of Giza. Here you can see how the poor air quality sort of degraded the powerful effect of being at the great pyramids. Because it was so smoggy, you couldn't see them very clearly, so it was almost like you weren't really there. They were "flat" looking, which is too bad. Nonetheless, it was still amazing to see these wonders of the world!
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Cairo, Pyramids of Giza
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Cairo, Pyramids of Giza and Sphinx
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Cairo, Sphinx: Once buried in sand, the Sphinx is currently undergoing a restoration job.
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Cairo, Step Pyramid at Sakkara. Building a pyramid is no easy task, so we walked through the evolution of Pyramid building. The first evidence of a massive structure in Egypt is this 6 tiered version.
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Cairo, Step Pyramid at Sakkara. We took a camel ride from the Step Pyramid to the Tomb of Ti, which was spectacular. Our bedouin guide snapped this photo of us along the way. No photos are permitted inside the tomb, but Ti had some of the most interesting tomb decorations.
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Cairo, Bent Pyramid at Dahshur. The next stage in the evolution of pyramid building skill is preserved by this structure. They started building it at one angle but then realized it was getting unstable, so they adjusted it to a slightly different angle.
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Cairo, Bent Pyramid at Dahshur.
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Cairo, Bent Pyramid at Dahshur: Here it is easy to see the smoothe white limestone cladding that was present on all the pyramids when they were first built. Imagine the entire pyramid glistening from the polished limestone, which was painted with massive colored hieroglyphs.
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Cairo, Red Pyramid at Dahshur.
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Cairo, Red Pyramid at Dahshur. It's the 3rd largest pyramid in Egypt.
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Cairo, Red Pyramid at Dahshur: This pyramid is said to be the first successful example of a true pyramid with smooth sides. Built by Snefru about 2600 BCE, it is also the only pyramid in Egypt that we found you could climb. A modern stairway leads you about a third of the way up to an entrance. You then descend down a very long (60 meters) ramped passageway into the first chamber, located somewhere below the apex of the pyramid. The view from the side was spectacular, and really gave you an appreciation for their size that was not achieved from ground level.
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Cairo, Red Pyramid at Dahshur: Inside the burial chamber. It's about 15 meters high inside and feels incredibly vast. It was also very hot and muggy inside.
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Cairo, Red Pyramid at Dashur: Loraine points out the incredibly tight seams between the stones inside the Red Pyramid. Also, there are no decorations such as paintings or hieroglyphics inside the pyramids.
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Cairo, Boat on the Nile: Belly dancer. The conference banquet was on this Las Vegas style cruise boat. In addition to a well stocked buffet, we had a dinner show with a belly dancer.
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Cairo, Boat on the Nile: Whirling Dervish. This guy spun around and around for literally 15 minutes. His outfit and other props helped add variety and his facial expressions were very happy and somewhat whimsical.
Postcard
We sent this digital postcard to people to commemorate the event.

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