On one trip, my companion and myself stayed in a smaller hotel, in downtown Cairo. We checked in later at night, after a long and very tiring flight from L. A. Both of us were looking forward to falling into bed and getting a good night's sleep.
At 5:00 A.M. the faithful were called to prayers. Unknown to us, a loud speaker, playing the recording of the call to pray, was fastened to the outside of the building--right next to our window! At 5 A.M. a booming voice called out--"Allah..."! Both of us thought our moment had come--we were on our way to Heaven!
Later that morning, we decided to rent a car and drive down the Nile to Amarna. (Bad decision!) Cairo drivers are probably the most fearless dare-devils in the world! No one pays any attention to lines in the road or signal lights. The only thing that matters is the horn! Within 5 minutes of renting the car, we had a slight accident. But with an Arabic shrug, a smile and raised hands, and shaking of hands among all of us, we moved on...to our trip down the valley, following the Nile.
We decided to take a side-trip out to see the Bent and Red pyramids. The road soon degenerated to an unpaved highway, then a single lane dirt road, then tire-tracks across the desert. We took a huge dune, hit a rise, bottomed out--and became stuck to our hub-caps in sand!. We tried everything we could think of to get out--laying branches from bushes in front of the tires for traction--no luck. Trying to scoop out sand with our hands--no luck. Then we sat and thought out the pros and cons of our situation. It looked bleak, to say the least--no water with us. (but there was a canal close by). Not much traffic--we'd been there for 2 hours and seen none. No blankets or jackets, and it gets quite chilly in the desert at night.
Then, after much praying, a jeep came by--with a tow bar, a chain, water and shovels. They dug us out, pulled us free of the sand, and then drove off without another word!
Then, to cap the situation, we found out later that the Bent was, at that time, on a military zone, and could not be visited!
But we did get to Dashur, and then on to Medium and the pyramid there--although it looks more like a tower than a pyramid. The outer casing is completely gone, and several courses of the pyramid have collapsed. We went inside--that was spooky! I didn't think we would Ever get to the bottom of the entrance shaft!
Then on to el Mynia, where we spent to night and went to Amarna in the morning. I relly liked el Mynia--a lot of the old houses and villas were built by the English in the last part of the 19th century.
Amarna, although there wasn't much to be seen, was one of my favorites. At that time, tourst services were almost non-existent. We hitched a ride out to the site on a tractor! The pathway up to the Northern tombs had just been completed, so we hiked up to them. The have been seriously vandalized. (mostly in ancient times) But one still gets the idea of the beauty of the carvings. We sat on large rocks outside the tombs to eat our lunch--sandwiches from a little cafe in el Mynia. We were above the site of the Northern Palace, and could see the foundations of the buildings. As far as one could see, there was absolutely no life--no trees, no grasses--nothing but sand. And, of course, no people. But sitting there, I got the strangest feeling. As if, if I turned around, all sorts of people would be standing there. Made the haair on my arms stand up!! Then we hiked down to the side of the city itself. Didn't get out to the Royal Tomb--now I wish we had! Then back to the Northern tombs, and a shade-area that had been built there. Thank God for shade! It was unbelievably hot! Another tractor was there, and we talked them in to giving us a ride. One of the little pleasures, though. The Egyptian men on the tractor stopped and made tea! So we all had a glass of mint tea, sitting in the shade provided by the tractor. It was really cool! It's really true, too, that you can stand with one foot in the destert and one in cultivated land. When they got us back to the river, it was so nice and cool! We got in the car and drove on to Beni Hassen for the night.