Time is ticking and I need to start touring more seriously, so I left the boys with my mom (thank you, Mom!) who took them swimming at the Maadi House (a hangout place for embassy employees) and I headed over to the Egyptian Museum.
Khalid (the family driver) dropped me off and my mom walked me through the entrance so I wouldn't have to pay for a ticket (thanks again, Mom!) Cameras are forbidden inside but I 'd sooner part with one of my children than part with my camera. I kept it with me and hoped that security wouldn't notice it inside my backpack. Alhamdulilah, it must have been my lucky day because the guards didn't notice my camera.
I wonder how many more times I'll utter the phrase, "The _______ in Egypt is unlike any other _______ I've been too." Well, the Egyptian Museum was no different. Here's an excerpt from my guide book...
"Visiting the Egyptian Museum, it is easy to find yourself overwhelmed by the impressive artworks that fill every niche and corner. This is not a new phenomenon. Long ago, a visitor complained to Gaston Maspero, the first director of the Egyptian Museum, that it was too crowded with artifacts. Maspero replied that ancient Egyptians would have liked this. Egyptian temples were crowded with statues, and every available space of a tomb was full of scenes and hieroglyphic inscriptions. Even the typical Egyptian house was full of furniture and equipment. Thus, the crowding of artifacts in the museum is in keeping with the aesthetic of ancient Egypt itself."
So you think our museum is overcrowded and disorganized? Well, we did it on PURPOSE. So quit complaining. There really were objects in every corner imaginable. It's impossible to give each item the attention is deserves. I'm proud to say that I made it into every room, despite the insane amount of people. I think I overheard tours going on English, Japanese, Spanish, French and even Italian. I didn't want to take a tour even though three different men approached me at the entrance.
I think my favorites objects were the beautiful, intricate jewelry and amulets. So detailed, so refined. I also loved seeing the King Tut treasures and the mummies. You had to buy a separate ticket to enter the mummy room. It was 100 pounds or about $20. I loved looking closely at the teeth and fingernails of the mummies, they were so clean!
Of everything in the museum, the only objects that had any type of humidity control were the mummies. Everything else is left to the elements. Most cases had locks on them but I noticed several that simply had wax or metal seals with the date imprinted in Arabic. People would touch and lean up against the objects. I saw a guard ask a nice Indian lady to please stop sitting on the sarcophagus. In her defense, it did sort of look like a bench.
I pulled my camera out exactly three times. Unfortunately I was only able to do so in the more empty (less popular) rooms. I was so nervous that I'd get in trouble.
In one corner of the museum there was a "GIVE US BACK OUR STUFF YOU BIG JERKS" Exhibit. It had a list of objects (and the museums that house them) that the Egyptian government would like to be repatriated. It also discussed the government's efforts to stop items from being sold on the black market. It was very interesting.
Out in the gardens, photography is allowed.
This was off to the side of the museum. Ancient Egyptian architecture adorning the entrance to a maintenance room or something.
People climbing and posing on the statues.
These schoolboys wanted me to take their picture. All morning, school children would come up to me and ask for my name and give me theirs. It was cute.
After about three hours, I was tired and hungry. I ended up catching a taxi home (my first one here). The taxi picked me up right outside the museum. Had I walked a little further away from the museum, I bet the fare would have been less. The cab driver wanted 20 pounds, I told him 10 and I ended up paying 15. I definitely got ripped off. When I got home, Su-su told me that she would have paid 7 L.E. and Sayeed would have paid 5 L.E. Being a tourist has its disadvantages, but then I remember that I paid about $3 to get home and the taxi even had air conditioning. No complaints from me.