It was our last day in Luxor. Our host, Mahmoud, offered to take us out to the desert villages in the back of a pickup truck. They’d prepared the truck bed with an assortment of chairs, carpets and colourful cushions. The final look was somewhere between a Maharaja’s palace and a redneck bush party.
My mother (or her majesty queen of Luxor as she now likes to be called) sat on her “throne” with her hat and fan, waving graciously at the villagers. Most of the Egyptians we passed waved back and seemed delighted and amused by our strange parade. A few kids even hopped on the truck for a short ride. We were greeted with shouts of “welcome” and broad grins wherever we went, a far cry from the “death to infidels” nonsense peddled by the media. I was glad my parents got to experience the generous warmth of these people.
I had a great time observing and capturing little snippets of daily life on camera. Dad was snapping away as well. He seemed incredibly happy during the tour and said that despite the heat, he could have done it all day. I had a similar sentiment. It was one of my favourite experiences of the entire trip.
Dusty and windblown, we stopped for a quick tour and cold drink at El Moudira, a beautiful and tranquil hotel in the desert. We all tried to behave around the posh people. Then we were back on the road.
Our destination was St Tawdros (St Theodore's) Coptic Orthodox Christian Monastery, in the desert near Medinet Habu. We removed our shoes and stepped reverently in the quite, peaceful chapel. The walls contained both carvings of Coptic crosses and hieroglyphs from recycled stone originating in nearby temples.
Afterwards we visited the gift shop where a variety of goods could be found. It was a strange mix of religious items and cheap plastic toys. We bought some frankincense and locally made honey. One nun demonstrated plastic cross that came apart to show it was also a pen. She seemed to think it was the best thing ever, but sadly there were no takers.
That night, back at Nile Compound, we sat on the balcony, smoked shisha and played cinquante-huit (a french card game). I was slightly concerned about Aswan and my next budget hotel choice but I didn’t let it bother me. Que sera sera.