Friday, August 10, 2007

Luxor: It's not just a casino in Vegas

It's also a giant Egyptian temple which sits smack-dab in the middle of a city by the same name. So, after resting up for a day and bombarding myself with medicine to kill my amoebas, Sarah and I decided to go check it out.

The Avenue of Sphinxes, leading to the Temple of Luxor.

The entrance to the Temple of Luxor. As a general rule, if you see a larger than life statue of an Egyptian Pharoah, it's probably Ramses II.

Probably the most interesting thing about the Temple of Luxor is that a number of people built and rebuilt it over the ages. As a result, it reflects a number of different styles and uses. In addition, to a number of Pharoahs working on it, it was also used during the Roman era. In addition, when Islam came to Egypt, a mosque was built in the middle of it.

The Mosque at the Temple of Luxor. Interestingly, they just sort of jammed it into the middle of the temple with little regard to anything like the original temples orientations.

The remains of a Roman era fresco overlaid on top of the original Egyptian carvings.

"...And the waters of the Nile spurt forth from my sandals!"

In Lonely Planet, the writer for the Egypt guide makes mention of the Sound and Light Show at Karnak. Now, Sound and Light Shows are pretty standard throughout Egypt. Basically, every major temple and ruin has its own sound and light show. But, the writer said that the one at the Temple of Karnak was high in drama and camp, and explictedly quoted the line "...and the waters of the Nile sprut forth from my sandals."

And, since I first read that line in the guide, I've been endlessly (mis)quoting it. At every mention of the Nile, I'd suddenly announce, in my deepest baritone:

"And the waters. Of the Nile. Burst forth. From my sandals."

So, it went without saying that it was absolutely essential that we see the Sound and Light Show at the Temple of Karnak.

The first night we intended to go, we actually missed it. We went to a nice restaurant, but the service was slow, and by the time we left the show had started. So, it goes without saying that Sarah, Yusuke and I showed up extra early the second night.

It's easy to imagine a sound and light show, but harder to describe. Basically, your with a large group of people who are herded through the temple in the dark, while sections of it are suddenly illuminated. And theatrical voices and blaring trumpets come blaring at you from random directions.

It proved almost as hard to photograph the light show as it is to describe it.

A large portion of the Temple of Karnak. It would have been nice to go explore it during the day, but my darned amoebas keep us from getting a chance.

Then, about 10 minutes into the show, I heard it: "And the waters of the Nile spurt forth from my Sandals!" I clapped my hands and smiled with glee!

Meanwhile, I can only imagine that the whole spectacle was just confusing to Yusuke, who's grip of English is scatter-shot at best. Oh well, I was happy.

What $80 gets you in Luxor.

So, when the doctor first came to check out my stomach on our first morning in Luxor, he charged us $80 for the housecall, the injection of painkiller, the anti-biotics and some herbal medicine.

By the next day, my symptoms had changed, but I still wasn't doing well. So, we called him again, and he did another housecall for free. After prescribing me some more medicine, he also said we should stop by his clinic that evening.

So, after the Sound and Light Show, Sarah and I dropped by his clinic. After telling him that I was feeling much better now he suddenly announced: "Here! Let me show you something!"

Leading me and Sarah into the backroom, he had me climb ont a table, lifted my shirt, squeezed some jelly onto my stomach and fired up the ultrasound machine.

"See! This is you stomach! And here, your kidneys. Good kidneys. And your bladder. You ate about two hours ago, didn't you (which was true). And here... here is your heart. Nice heart."

I've never had the opportunity to see my heart before. Frankly, it was pretty darned cool.

"Your organs are in very good shape. I think you will live 80 years. From today. How old are you? 31? You will live to be about 110. Now, I have more patients. But, I'd like to invite you to have some juice. She will get it for you."

So, sitting in the waiting room, Sarah and I finished our bottles of mango juice. And then made our way back to the hotel.

So, to answer the question, "What will $80 get you in Egypt?" $80 will get you two housecalls, one visit to the clinic, a shot of painkiller, antibiotics, some herbal medicine, an examination with an ultrasound, a doctor who thinks he's your new best friend and two bottles of mango juice.

Something is wrong with our health-care system.

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