Friday, 16 December 2011

Egypt



The painting above is the one I have been working on this week. It is obviously (hopefully) of the Pyramids. An unusual choice of subject for me but it is a commission and it has turned out quite nicely.

We visited Egypt a couple of years ago and even then there had been trouble with tourists being targeted by terrorists. It was interesting how the Egyptian Police looked after us.
We were among a party of tourists going by Coach to the Cairo Museum of Egyptology. We climbed into our coaches and set off with a Police pick-up in between every coach. The Police were armed and sat in the back of the pick-ups with machine guns. As we approached any pinch point like road junctions or roundabouts the police had officers ready to stop the traffic and let us pass. All very impressive, a high level of security which put us completely at ease. We arrived at the Museum shortly before midday and went in.

The objects in the museum were fascinating and I was stunned by the quantity of exhibits. It would have been nice if the curators had updated the exhibit labels which must have been written by Howard Carter in 1920 as they were hand written in ink and had faded to nothing. The Museum was packed with representatives from all nations including the party of Japanese complete with dust masks on their faces (inside the museum?). The takings for the day must have been in the tens of thousands in sterling.


Eventually I decided I needed to visit the gentleman’s room! Having got to the front of the queue I was faced with two attendants with hands outstretched. I was impressed they wanted to shake my hand but I declined in the interests of hygiene. I went in to the lavatory and was pleased I hadn’t tipped them the toilets seats were on the floor and the drains were overflowing as I paddled around. It would have taken a man (or woman) with a toolset 20 minutes to put the lavatories right but it had clearly been in this condition for days. Obviously not a high priority. Alex stated that the Ladies facilities were no better if not worse.

Anyway we came out loaded on to the coaches and drove off. Not a Police Officer in sight no escort, and stuck in every bit of traffic. It hit me like a shot obviously we were only a target for terrorists in the morning. I should have realised.

We did visit the Pyramids and were advised not to give our cameras to anyone, particularly the Tourist Police, as they would offer to take your photo and demand money to return it. I won’t go into detail about the Hotel where we had tea but it was “interesting”.

Yes I remember Egypt a real experience but perhaps bizarre is the word that comes to mind.

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