Here's the final
Full size http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4024/427 ... 0558_o.jpg
The revised story:
My driver Jellae (I just love being able to say that: ‘my driver’ - “I’ll have MY DRIVER come ‘round and pick you up. Is nine o’clock good? We’ll go to the club from there. Tee time is 9:30 sharp”) anyway my driver was now finally convinced that I had lost it.
After watching me climb up to the top of the first pylon (wall) at The Ramesseum the previous day, lay in the dirt with my camera, and wander off unattended on numerous occasions into the bowels of these temples, now this crazy American was asking to be driven over to Hatshepsut’s temple at 4 in the morning “to go mountain climbing”!? “Mister Cam-a-doon are you sure you want to do this?” he asked prodding, somewhat concerned for my safety but also wondering just what the hell I was going to do up on a mountain, alone, in the dark. “I’m fine Jellae, this is why I came to Egypt in the first place.”
He wasn’t a color junkie; I couldn’t explain this to him.
I was focused, prepared and in shape, after all this was ‘only’ a 600 foot vertical relief hike, it’d be ‘like baggin’ wamp rats in my T-16 back home’! I had my kit in order and I knew what I was doing. I had a good feeling about this. And besides, I was out the door and gone long before the Morning Call to Prayer too.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oESIOXSl_94
So off we went in the dark, across the bridge with its machine gun turrets over to the west bank of the Nile and then back north several miles through the tiny town of Qurna, up past the memorial temples. Past the hot air balloons preparing for tourists at sunrise, and into the incredible Dayr Al Bahari cirque which contains one of the most amazing sights in all of Egypt: the memorial temple of Queen Hatshepsut.
Jellae dropped me at the trailhead and drove off to hang out with his hot air balloon buddies at a nearby field and drink black tea. He was on the clock so what’d he care? I’d be seeing him again around 9:30 or so.
I had been studying this location for some time, since I first saw Hatshepsut’s temple on Google Earth, wondering what it looked like from ‘up there’ and perhaps at sunrise too?
Queen Hatshepsut was one of the only female Pharaoh’s. She usurped her own infant son for the throne and then deified herself, (became god) holding onto the position for about 20 years during which she accomplished some truly amazing things. When her son finally succeeded her, he attempted to erase her legacy defacing and removing her images on wall carvings all over the area, and walling in her two obelisks over at Karnak, across the river, this only succeeded in preserving them to this day.
The projects undertaken under Hatshepsut stand as a record of the power of the human spirit, coupled it would seem with unlimited funding. What she accomplished is truly remarkable!
Hatshepsut’s temple points almost directly on axis to the Karnak complex several miles away across the Nile. A canal used to come up here from the Nile when the Nile ran much closer to this location than it does now. The temple sits in a natural ‘cirque’ or bowel in the mountains which offer natural protection and create a stunning and jaw dropping scene. Immediately behind it in the next valley over is the world famous Valley of the Kings. As she was female and not allowed to be buried in the Valley of the Kings, so she had her engineers dig through the mountain at the rear of her temple and almost back into Valley of the Kings to have her tomb be placed there.
The site that her temple sits in is also the scene of one of the darkest days in modern Egypt’s history. In early November 1997, 6 terrorists (dressed as temple guards no less) descended on this temple from these hills and over a gruesome 45 minute period they massacred 62 foreign tourists (including three honeymooning Japanese couples) with guns and machetes. Then they hijacked a tour bus out in the parking lot and would have escaped completely had not the captive driver crashed it intentionally at a police checkpoint. Locals and the police then chased them up into a cave where they committed mass suicide rather than be captured and face trials.
This is who we’re fighting.
This is who dropped the Twin Towers on 9/11 and blew up the trains in Madrid. This is who kills babies and castrates their own women. Make no mistake, you can’t bargain with them, you can’t sit down at the table and ‘talk peace’ because before you do they’ll slice you ear to ear; they have nothing so they have nothing to lose. The only solution is either to isolate them or to exterminate them before they exterminate you.
Not even the Japanese in WW II were this savage.
Sorry to be ‘Buzz Killington’ here but these are the facts of the world in which we live and our own ‘tolerance’ ignorance and indifference allowed this to happen.
All men are not created equal, not by a long shot.
Since this terrible incident, security all over the Luxor area and Egypt has been beefed up to the point that now there are guards with machine guns on every block, in every hotel, and anywhere else westerners would travel including all of the temples and monuments.
As you might imagine the Luxor Massacre of 1997 decimated Egypt’s tourism industry for several years, which was the goal of these extremist assholes in the first place. In hiking up to get this shot I passed no less than three half asleep guards camped out in the rocks and one full on fully armed guard house too. “Saleem al Kaloom” I blurted out (‘peace be with you’ or maybe, ‘please don’t shoot me’ he he he) and trudged on past. As an American with an Obama in office I felt pretty safe my entire trip actually. The average Egyptian doesn’t fear us any more and I was hugged on numerous occasions after telling locals I was an American.
This location on the west bank is cool because several great day hikes crisscross the hills right here going back and forth from Valley of the Kings, to Valley of the Queens (home to all the disco’s, hair solons, and Pottery Barn’s), and back down into the Dayr Al Bahari cirque and Hatshepsut’s temple. These day hikes are a great way to beat the crowds and gain a unique perspective on this amazing place. I highly recommend them to anyone who has time. There are taxis waiting at every trailhead to whisk you back to your start points all day long.
From the top of the cirque you can see the entire Luxor area including the Nile valley and out across the open desert to the Red Sea hills in the far distance. We happened to get a rare cloudy day this morning which made the eastern sky simply explode. Notice the hot air balloons taking flight down below (how cool would that be?) and the city of Luxor still lit up beyond those. I sat up here for a while after the shot enjoying a light breakfast and taking this all in. No terrorist loser can possibly detract from what this is and what one of the greatest civilizations in human history accomplished. *sigh* this alone was worth flying half way around the world for. Simply amazing!