Thursday, November 22, 2012

15: On to Egypt, February 1932

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Steamed up the Red Sea February 15th through 17th with haze and fog the rule. One beautiful sunset which disclosed high mountains to the north. With Rev. Winter won men’s doubles in table tennis, with Mrs. Noyes won mixed doubles in shuffleboard and was on the winning team of six in tug of war.

Arrived at Suez at south end of the Suez Canal February 18th at 6 p.m. The canal is wide enough for two ships to pass each other. There was a little signal station every several miles. On the Egyptian side are palms frequently and some farms. Palestine side at first is plain desert with a camel visible now and then. Ismailia is a good-sized city where major traffic crosses between the two countries.

Nile at Cairo
February 1932

Landing at Port Said was quite a chore. Arabs, which I will use to describe most Egyptians, are a tricky and grabby lot. I passed through customs and health check and caught the train for Cairo. The country is very green. Here and there was a canal which you could detect ahead because the forest of masts of small ships. We saw many primitive methods for raising water from canals such as the crank and screw method almost like a meat grinder, and by a pot on a derrick. I also saw plowing by primitive wooden blade and pulled sometimes by a camel and a cow attached together.

Nile near Cairo
February 1932 

On the Nile near Cairo
February 1932 

I arrived at Cairo in the afternoon of February 19th and taxied to small pension (hotel). Mohammed Solomon, dragoman (guide), took me to an Egyptian theater and we watched dancers. Many veiled women and lots of French women (many prostitutes) on the streets.

I left next morning at 8 a.m. for Memphis and the Sakkara Step Pyramid. Dragoman said there are 49 pyramids. Viewed a colossus statue of Ramses II lying out flat with head broken off. Then went on and found similar statue in alabaster marble under roof, head intact. I went in one artificial cavern where there were sarcophagi for 24 sacred bulls. Then drove north to Great Pyramid. The main entrance was walled up but a new entrance was wide enough to enter. On each side of the steep passageway were shelves flanking center groove. At intervals of several feet were rectangular holes where slaves could rest from their labors of pushing sarcophagi up. The King’s chamber was just half way up from all directions. The Queen’s was on-fourth and the daughter’s was three-fourths of the way up. Immense stones supported the roof. Interior stones irregular, only the outer stones were fitted. The two great pyramids were encased with marble (alabaster) which was purloined by Arabs for mosque building from all but the top quarter of the next to largest pyramid.

February 1932
Note alabaster capping stone left undisturbed on top portion of second largest pyramid. 

Image: Wikipedia

Napoleon wanted to move the Sphinx which is carved out of solid stone, but was unable, so he fired a cannon at it and knocked off the nose. The Sphinx has a body of a lion and a human face. I rode a camel part of the way around the pyramid. It was like going up an elevator since you mount a camel which is kneeling down. The hind end raises a notch first, then the front goes up a notch and the process continues until you seem high up in the air. Many caves and buried shrines in that area.

Two of Cairo's finest mosques, near Citadel
February 1932 

Citadel and Mosque of Mohammed Ali.
Latter is constructed of the alabaster capping stone of the Pyramids.
February 1932.

Image: Tour Egypt

Egypt then had 14 million people with cultivated land of only 14,000 square miles. One square mile had to support 1,000 people. There was much poverty and many unemployed persons. Saw many mosques, bazaars, and great museums. Cairo is a huge city. Major museum had King Tut’s golden treasures. Wooden furniture restored. It was of beautiful designs. Mummies of Ramses II and so on had all been withdrawn from the public at that time since Egyptians figured bodies should be private.

Central Hall of Egyptian Museum

I bought traveler’s check at Thomas Cook and Sons with my gold since it was unlawful to take gold out of Egypt.

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