Star Date: December 2015
Hello Dear Family & Friends!
Hob wa el Salam.
"Love and look for the good in ourselves and in those around us. If we spend our energy improving ourselves, we will be too busy to worry about the things we would like to change in others."
The mighty Nile. The source of sustenance, the very bringer of life. It cuts through the harshness of the hot, dry unrelenting desert like liquid gold, making everything it touches green, cool and prosperous. Flying over it is remarkable to see the green stretch of life as the harsh, neighboring desert lies poised ready to swallow it up. Flooding its banks annually it makes the richest soil on earth. Seeds literally spring to life in this black gold, trees bear fruit and a people flourish physically and spiritually. The River god, Hapi, smiles graciously on Egypt yet another season. How can a civilization not flourish with their main god named 'Hapi'?
Watching the orange sun sink slowly on the western bank it sizzles as the rays dance across the water's surface. It is obvious why the pharaohs of antiquity chose the Luxor area to bury their dear ones in tombs resting in the land of the dead. As the sun sets it dies daily and acquiesces to the darkness of night. This is the place of the Valley of the Kings. Their tombs were prepared to help the pharaohs and families to pass through the stars to arrive whole and prepared-- into the after life. Great measures were taken to mummify the bodies for 70 days, then place their wrapped bodies in a wooden coffin carved and painted in their image. Important kings had golden breast plates and masks, such as the famous King Tut to cover them. The tombs were filled with furniture, golden images, clothes, dried food, oils; anything needed in the afterlife. The walls of the tombs were painted brightly with gods, history, and even prayers and the Book of the Dead, instructing the priests on how to properly send the soul to the next life. Once prepared the coffin was put in a massive stone sarcophagus and sealed. Prayers and ritual performed, the soul ascended through the stars into the heavens of the afterlife. The tomb is then sealed forever, that is until the tomb robbers sniff out the hidden location.
The Nile also provided the main source of transportation to the Egyptians. Following in the footsteps of the pharaohs or sailing the mighty Nile in a 'felucca' one is immediately transported back in time to the era of the pharaohs. Wandering through majestic, immense columns or looking over grand staircases and courtyards it is easy to imagine the divine pharaoh seated on his throne with thousands of followers bowing in adoration. Guards and temple priests hovered around, as magicians and musicians and dancers created a majesty seldom surpassed.
Hapi was the
ancient Egyptian god of the Nile He was depicted as green-skinned
and with a woman's breasts, representing the fertility and
life-giving resources of the river. The ancient Egyptians
prayed to Hapi to ensure that the annual inundations or floods would
bring sufficient water to their fields, so that they would have a
plentiful harvest. The Egyptians worshipped Hapi more than any
other Egyptian gods and goddesses. To the Egyptians, the Nile river
was of the greatest importance. Without the Nile, life would not
have been sustainable. photo
The Magnificent life bringing Nile. We have followed the Nile River for most of its 6,853 km; from its source in Tanzania, an inlet into Lake Victoria, up through Uganda, across northern Ethiopia, all the way from the Sudanese border to it's journey's end in Alexandria, on the Mediterranean Sea.
The source of the Nile, the world's longest river, beckoned explorers (infamous men such as Sir Richard Burton, John Speke, Dr Livingston) into deepest, darkest Africa during the mid 1800's. The men were forced to endure malaria and flesh-eating ulcers as well as stab and spear wounds from natives. Not exactly a walk in the park!
Baker AND his wife Florence also took on the challenge.
"The couple had met in unusual circumstances. Baker discovered his future wife, then aged 14, about to be sold in an Ottoman slave auction. She had been orphaned in a Hungarian uprising, brought up in a harem and given the name Florenz (which she later changed to Florence). He smuggled her away and they would eventually appear in Africa approaching the Nile from the Egyptian end. Florence cut a colorful figure in Africa where the natives were fascinated by her blonde hair (which none had even seen before).
But what shocked other Europeans they met was her insistence on refusing to ride side-saddle; the normal practice for women in that era. Florence would always ride with her shapely legs astride the horse. (Trust me, conventional women don't travel by land over the continent of Africa!) The couple also fell victim to malaria and on one occasion recovered, quite amazingly, after an old chief sprayed them with spittle. However their travels were not without moments of unintentional humor.
The same chief
spotted Baker’s chamber pot in the corner of their hut and decided
that it would make a perfect serving bowl for important occasions.
He was deeply disappointed when he was informed that it was a
“sacred vessel” which had to accompany Baker everywhere he went."
Seeing the mighty river flowing into the Mediterranean Sea in Alexandria, Egypt was a completion or closing of a long chapter of African adventures. Alexandria is surrounded by legends of grandeur. This famous port was founded by Alexander the Great and later cheeky Queen Cleopatra also made this the seat of her throne. The city gained status and borrowed cosmopolitan features from near by Europe. In the 1950's President Nasser changed this trend. Now the city has many grand old buildings in varying stages of decay. The picturesque harbor, lined with a castle and the infamous walkway remain the center of the city. Take away the honking horns of impatient Egyptian drivers and it would be a lovely stroll.
The ancient Library of Alexandria was created by Ptolemy I Soter, a Macedonian general and successor of Alexander the Great. More interested in Knowledge than war he collected books from around the world, most kept as papyrus scrolls. Unfortunately the library burned several times, once by accident when Julius Caesar in 48BC set fire to boats in the harbor and it spread to the city. Later the scrolls were hidden, stolen by Rome, then the library burned to the ground. Other manuscripts through history have been hidden away to protect the knowledge of the ancient scholars such as Aristotle or Plato. Thank goodness great, wise people through history have valued knowledge over petty national conflicts.
Alexandria has long been the center of learning in Egypt. The original library of Alexandria was founded in the 3rd century BC to preserve knowledge. Now the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the newly opened (2002) $220 million dollar, 11 storey high library is "Housing the heritage of a Civilization." It has shelf space for 8 million books but more importantly it has started to make the modern transition into a digital library. Time and innovations march on. We were excited to visit, tour, and be part of this grand endeavor. Knowledge is Power!
And so it goes.........................................Next modern Egypt. Until then, rather than blaming or trying to change those around us, lets work on improving ourselves first. A serious task which most of us ignore. Walk our talk. We will then be too busy to worry about improving those around us. Take care and Keep in Touch!
How can 2016 be the happiest year of your life?
"Be here now, and you'll be happy. "
now means when you’re walking down the street, be on the street, and
not listening to the commentary in your head. When you’re traveling
in a car, be in the car, and not lost in the thoughts in your head.
When someone is talking to you, listen to them, focus on what
they’re saying, and stop listening to the narration inside your
Love, Light & Laughter,
1 US Dollar equals 7.63 Egyptian pounds
Don't miss the Bibliotheca Alexandrina - 11 storey's of modern library, attempting to recover and preserve knowledge through the ages.