So, it is obvious that right now, I am just not going to have much to say that isn't physiology related. Do you want to hear all about it? No?...So, my dad is in Egypt and sends us weekly updates. His stuff is great, and the work is facinating. I will just copy his note over, then my blog will get something new, and I don't really have to come up with it. It may take me a day or two to figure out how to get the pictures over from email. Great plan, eh? After all, emails come and go, but a blog is forever...er, right?
Dear Family, Much water has come down the Nile since I last wrote to you. Although, since the current is only about 5 knots per hour, or approximately 120 miles per day, the water from Aswan has just about reached the Mediterranean since my last missive. Time seems to move by much more rapidly, and the last week has been filled with a lot of interesting experiences. The ADC (2nd in command) of the American Embassy invited us for dinner on Saturday, and his family live in an old mansion which has been owned by the US for some 60 years. It is Italian in style and decoration, and with its four huge floors it was quite an outing for us. Servants took care of the meal, and it was much like watching an old (1930s-1940s) movie. Matt Tueller is well-informed about the Middle East, and he gave some insights into what is going on out here. He served most recently in Baghdad, and was offered the Ambassadorship there. But, for family reasons, he elected to take the number two post in Cairo. Progress is being made in the ME, but it will take some time for all to work out. The elections in Iraq went well on the regional level, and national elections are scheduled for the end of the year. Good luck to them. Sunday was a strange day. As we left Cairo on the Ring Road (a freeway going around the city), we were slowed by very heavy traffic. A large petroleum truck had lost its load of oil on the road, and since Egyptians are not accustomed to driving on slick surfaces, the pileup of trucks, cars, buses, and donkey carts was quite a sight. I watched 2-ton trucks spinning around on the oil-slickened surface like they were in a huge ballet. It was very interesting to watch. We got through that, and then at a checkpoint my driver lost his license because the inspector did not have his seatbelt fastened. We stopped a bit further on, and the inspector got out, walked back to the checkpoint, and a few minutes later came to the car with the driver's license---and no penalty. It turns out that the inspector's brother is a captain in the Cairo police force. Good connections can work wonders. We then had to wait for a long train to pass a crossing (it was an iron ore train from Bahariya, the oasis in the western desert I visited a week or so before). Finally, we got to the site and had a good day's work (shortened by all of the above). The guards' house (mudbrick hut?) on the site now has electricity (I paid well for that). I was requested to join the guards and security people for tea in the newly-lighted place. We sat on mats, talked, and they drank tea. I had some water. They praised me for the power, turned on and off the lights, both inside and outside, for a while (halogen lights which are bright), showed me the switches where they want to put a radio and TV, and also pointed out where the two ceiling fans will be placed to cool them somewhat during the summer. Then, they gave me a political lecture on the US. They stated that Pres. Obama has a black face and a white heart, while Pres. Bush has a white face and a black heart. Interesting commentary. I also learned this week that I have been assigned a personal bodyguard. He is young, well-dressed, and carries major weaponry on his body. He took me through his assignment to protect me at all costs, and told me how to react should any problem arise (I am to get low quickly and let him take out the troublemakers). He assured me that he is to place his life on the line for me and keep me out of danger. After all of that, I went to work at the dig and he went to the guards' house to take a nap. In the 5X5 meter area we are excavating, we have found 45 burials so far, and some are quite nice. One woman had a lovely pair of leather sandals placed near her feet, and also had two pull-string bags placed on her legs. There was a bundle of flax fibers and wheat stalks placed all around the body, and she was dressed in green and purple robes. There was a spindle on the body, but no whorl (was she a weaver?).There are many cluster burials, often comprised of 4 - 5 children buried with one adult. Was the adult a guide or guardian in the next life? With all the children being about the same age, they cannot all be from the same family. On the other hand, we found one cluster of four, all placed on top of one another. Two children on top, an adult (with a nice large necklace made of woven and plaited palm materials, making me think this is the mother) beneath the children, and another adult on the bottom. This would appear to be a family, but it would be interesting to know how they all died at the same time. One burial had a 'walking stick' and a bronze bell placed on the chest. He could possibly have been a priest, though that is simply a guess. I took Dr. Gaballa A. Gaballa and his wife, Genny, to dinner last night. He was in the delegation from Egypt when we opened the Ramses II exhibit, and I invited him later to visit BYU to lecture. He was Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology then, and later became director of Antiquities and Undersecretary of State. He has health problems now (heart), but it was fun to be with them for the evening. This is the last time I will mention my running, but I am now up to 7 1/2 miles per outing, so am getting back into decent physical condition. The weather continues to be nice, and is even a bit warm for this time of the year. The haze in Cairo makes it nice to get away into the cleaner air of the Fayum. The spider is still alive in its bottle, though it seems to be mad when I look at it. I wonder why. I took the crew to Andrea's for dinner the other night, and it was great Egyptian food. The chicken, hot pita breat, hummus, tehina, babaganoush, salads, chicken livers, stuffed vine leaves, etc.----a nice way to have a meal. I hope I can succeed in sending some pictures with this rather long note. I know I will succeed in sending you my love. I hope this finds you all well and happy. love, dad