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copyright 1998, james waldron design,  
all rights reserved

Stories and images 
by Jim Waldron
Last stop on the year long trip, Egypt scared me and intrtigued me at the same time. I'd spent the last three months in relative luxury in European countries where I spoke the language and knew the locals. Now I went to the Middle East, the birthplace of religon, but still the third world. Starting in Cairo, then to the easy tourist destination of Sharm El Sheik, I slowly went deeper into the outback, and further from creature comforts for one last gasp of backpacking style. 


Losing faith in human kindness
is terrible to witness 
especially for the small sum of fourteen dollars

My rest stop on life
comes to an end 
under armed guard in the desert


Some favorites

See them all at once
Look at thumbnails of all the photographs from this country. 
Each picture was made with the Agfa ePhoto 1280 digital camera. 

Tiresome. Maybe I had been on the road too long. Maybe I had become used to prices clearly marked in stores. Maybe I had become at home with the ability to blend in with the crowd in London. So when I arrived in Cairo, and everyone wanted to be my friend, buy me some tea, show me their shop, or take me around town, I was no longer ready for the energy needed to deal with it all. "Hello my friend, where you come from, are you married, how old are you, do you need some spices? A girl? Where you go now? Please, I just have some questions." Cairo is a jumbled city filled with dust, traffic and smog. Despite this I did have some very interesting days about, but mostly I hid in the confines of my hostel. 

Citadel - Home of Egyptian rulers from 12th to 19th century 
Citadel Mosq - Inside Mosque of Mohammed Ali at Citidel 
Mosque Ceiling - Ceiling of Mosque of Mohammed Ali 
InPlane - Sundown from my plane arriving in Cairo 
Mosque - Mosque near City of the Dead 
Mummy - Egyptian Museum Seti I mummy 
Scarg - Egyptian Museum Sar 
MusTufFace2 - King Tutankhamun's mask 
MusTut - King Tutankhamun's mask 
MusTutFace - King Tutankhamun's mask 
MusTutLie - King Tutankhamun's coffin 
MusTutNeck - King Tutankhamun's mask 
MusWarGuys - Diorama of Egyptian soldiers in 6 day war 

Birqash Camel Market
When in Egypt, do as the Egyptians. My faithful friend Robert and I hired a driver and went off the the Camel Market in Birqash. It's just like any used car stip in the United states, lots to choose from, questionable quality, and arguing salesmen. Our driver was not pleased when we suggested buying a bby camel and strapping it to the roof of the car. You can, however, fit up to four camels into the back of a pickup truck for transport to your place of buisness. they don't go in easily, but folded up they take up less space than you imagine. 

Camel Bound  - Bound so it won't run away, a three-legged stance 
Camel Eat - Dinnertime at the market 
Camel Leg - Strange shapes, these camels 
Camel row - Just like a used car lot 
Camel Sales
Camel Sellers - looking like regular guys about town 
Men - business men without the suits 

Cairo, the Pyramids
When you first see the top of the pyramids peeking over the roadside trees you are forced by sheer human nature to press your face against the glass and gasp at the size of the things. Then you meet the hoardes of hawkers, camel guides, and perfume dealers. Tough to concentrate on the actual experience of being there when you're slapping away mercenary pests as thick as mosquitoes in an Alaskan springtime. The three main pyramids are Cheops, the oldest built around 2600 B.C., Chephren and Mycerinus. 

Corner Rubble - Corner of Chephren with Mycerinus in back 
Three on view - Queens pyramids near Mycerinus looking northeast 
EgCai_PyrBobby.jpg - Bob Demaria on camelback 
EgCai_PyrLong321.jpg - Telephoto image looking Northeast from dunes 
EgCai_PyrNHorses.jpg - Horse tourists with pyramids behind 
EgCai_PyrPizzaHut.jpg - The view from the Giza Pizz Hut restaurant across the street from the pyramids 
EgCai_PyrSelfPor.jpg - Me in front of the pyramids 
EgCai_PyrSunsetSphi.jpg - View from the sphinx at sunset 
EgCai_PyrTele21.jpg - Closeup of the stones on edge of Cheops 
EgCai_PyrTourists.jpg - Photo ops with tour guides 
EgCai_PyrWCamel.jpg - Local posing on camelback for cash 
EgCai_PyrWDead.jpg - City of dead with pyramid background
EgCai_PyrWDeadOff.jpg - City of dead 
EgCai_PyrWSphi.jpg - The sphinx 

Port Safaga, the amusement park
This is an industrial town on the Red Sea coast, mostly concerned with exporting Potash by ship to the rest of Egypt and the Middle East. In the middle of the one-road downtown there soared a rickety old ferris wheel, sitting empty in the mid-day sun. Myself and my friend Robert were stuck waiting for a convoy to get us to Luxor, so I went over to photographs the strange juxtaposition of an amusement park in a desert. About ten minutes after I started exploring, two small beat-up busses arrived at the gate and out piled sixty or so schoolkids. They were as happy and excited to be at this little rat-trap amusement park as most school trips running through the gates of Disneyland in California. It was one of the most serene sensations of enjoyment watching these kids shrieking and smiling and staring at the tall white photographer tracking them down. 

Bucket Carny - The ride operator sits bored as the kids swing around 
Bucketride - Fear and joy spinning in the bucket 
Bulbs - Stark strings of lights try to denote the carnival atmosphere 
Carny - Proud of his ancient motorcycle death ride 
Ferris Girls - Schoolgirls in uniform lining up for the rides 
Ferris Whee - Abstract of the ferris wheel against the clear blue Egyptian sky 
Lightpost - Abstract of lightpost with bulb stings 
Girls Smile - Curious girls smiling at the foriegner 
Schoolgirls - Blue and whit clad schoolgirls waiting their turn 
Swings - High-tech thrill ride in Safaga 

Desert, between Hurghada and Luxor, and Sinai
Though it shouldn't surprise me, Egypt is dry and hot. I expected sand dunes and camels, but on my trip through I was amazed by the mountains and vast, empty flat areas. The desolation was wonderful, and made it especially interesting that the government doesn't allow foreigners to pass through without a convoy. We had four sub-machinegun toting guards with our single taxi the entire 6 hour trip. 

Cafe Sign - Signpost to nowhere 
Driver and Escort - Our driver's head and a view to our guard's pickup truck 
Gas Station - brand new, but not running 
Gas Station 2
Bike - At a roadside eatery in Sinai 
BusStop - Local woman waiting for the bus with the mountains behind 
Downtown - High noon, probably Abu Zenima sinai 
Lone Woman - Local woman waits for bus with mountains behind 
Shade - hiding out from the sun in the desert 

This is the place where the tomb-seekers flock. Luxor sits on the nile and is home to the worthy Valley of the Kings, Luxor Temple, and Karnak, some of the best-restored examples of ancient Egyptian architecture and culture. Geared for tourism, but only just hiding a thriving local city, Luxor allows access to the wondors of ancient kings, if you can just get through all the local entrepreneurs trying to bring you special places and selling you special things. 

Face - Sphinx face at Luxor Temple entrance 
Night Pillars - Pillars of the temple 
Pylons - Pylons at night 
Sphinxes - Row of sphinxes at Luxor Temple 
Sunset - Sunset view from southwest 
Trio - Statues of Ramses II 
Advertising - Homegrown advertising for travel, downtown Luxor 
Nile Sunset - Sunset over the Nile 

Karnak Temple 
Dark Heiros - Hieroglyphs at night 
Duck Heiro - Hieroglyphs with animals figures at night 
Heiro Flat - closeup of shallow hieroglyphs 
Heiros - Stones covered with writing 
Horses L - Statues of horses 
Horses R - Statues of horses 
King Rock - Yellow stone carving of king 
Night Pill - Colonnade at night 
Pillars - Great Hypostyle hall 
Pylon - Obelisks of Hatshepsut 
Pylon Twins - Obelisks of Hatshepsut 
Pylon View - Obelisks of Hatshepsut from Hyposstyle Hall 
Pylon Vert - Obelisks of Hatshepsut  alone 
Ruins - The Great Court 
Sphinx - Central Court Sphinx 
Stone Face - Detail from First Pylonding 

Valley of the Kings 
Hatshep - Detail from Queen Hatshepsut's temple 
Land - The mountains around the Valley of the Kings 
Negotiate - Robert negotiating with taxi drivers on the Nile West Bank 
Ram IV Co - Interior of King Ramses IV tomb 
Ram IV Ent - Enterance walkway inside King Ramses IV tomb 
Ram IV Int. - King Ramses IV tombding 
Ram IV Line - King Ramses IV tomb detail 
Soldier - Armed soldier protecting tourists in Valley of Kings 

A bustling city far south on the Nile Aswan was a stopover for merchants from the south of Africa. Now it's main business is tourism, and sections of the city crawl with vendors eager, very eager, to sell you spices, perfume bottles, drums, just about anything. And they are the most persistent salespeople I encountered in the country. Aswan is also home to the Temple of Philae, rescued from the rising waters of the dammed Nile between 1972 and 1980 by moving it block by block to a higher island, and reassembled for the tourists and historians. 

Man - Traditional everyday wear 
Market.jpg - Downtown Aswan 
Woman.jpg - At the marketplace 
Cols - Colonnade at Philae 
American students - Courtney Sarah, Corey Marissa, and Brantly studying archeology at Philea 
PhilaEntr - Gate of Ptolemy 
Relief - Inside Temple of Isis 
Relief 2 - Inside Temple of Isis 

Felluca trip, the Nile
The felluca boat is the local method of navigating the Nile. For centuries this simple wood-hulled, single sail boat has been used to transport people, livestock, and goods throughought Egypt. Shile still functioning as local transport, the felluca tourist trip is a staple of the riverside communities. My trip piled 25 backpackers into two boats for a three day trip down the Nile from Aswan to Luxor. My time was short though, so I had the boat pull over after two days and drop me off in Kom Obo and continuing on my own

Aussiegirl  - Unknown woman from down under 
Aussieman - Unknown man from down under 
Capt Sleep - Our faithful captain at 4:40 am 
Drop off Me - Dropping me off in Kom Obo 
Dung Beetle - Dung beetles were everywher on our dinner stop 
Farmer - Farmer boy and his donkey hang out at night 
Fellucca Rest - Felluca on the shore 
Feluccas - boats in the water 
Felucca Desert - Boat against a hughe sand dune 
Luxury Beds - Luxury backpacking  beds on boat 
Sail - Felluca sail 
Shade - Hanging out during the day's long ride 

Sharm El Sheik, Sinai, and Hurghada
One of the premiere dive destinations on the planet, Sharm is coated edge to edge with western-style beachside resorts and restaurants. The diving was wonderful, but the encroaching construction threatens to kill the very reason people come to visit. The coral reefs that line the coast are under constant seige from construction refuse and uncaring divers. Despite these difficulties, Sharm and the dive boats offer up a wonderful selection of shapes and colors to photographs. 

007 Sunset - David Page, Dive Instructor, on bow at sunset
Anchor - Anchors
Blue Wedge - Abstract of boat wall
Capt - Boat captain
Captain Stripe - Abstract of shadow and captain
Chair Floor - Boat deck abstract
Feet - Diver's feet on green mat
Floor Rail - Abstract of ladder
Ladder - Same
Roof - Striped roof abstract
Tanks - Sixty dive tanks awaiting loading to dive boats
Top Deck Leg 2 - First Mate driving the boat
Anja - Dive Instructor Anja, Red Sea Diving College
Anna - Dive Instructor and competitive bowler, Anna, Red Sea Diving College
Boat Bows - Two dive boats moored at lunchtime
BSAC Diver - Mammothly equiped British Sub Aqua Club Dive Instructor
Butts - Lovely women on boats
Deck Sleep - Post-lunch napping diver
Dock - The madness of Sharm's pier in the morning
Flag - Egyptian flag on dive boat
Lighthead - Me wearing a three-flashlight dive helmet from BSAC diver
Lobby1 - Red Sea Diving College
Lobby2 - Red Sea Diving College
Shark Jaws - Jaws collection on local dive boat
Shor Const - Some of the forty miles of shoreline resort construction
Shore Const 2 - Some more
Shore Const 3 - Even more, now you might see how the reefs are being damaged
Sophie - Dread-wearing English diver Sophie
Steve - Dive Instructor Steve, Red Sea Diving College
Top Dec kLeg - The captain
Trouble Girl - Just to piss off one of my diving buddies
Tuna Floor - We caught Tuna with a hand line for lunch the next day
Tuna Hand - they look great under water too
Tuna Throat - A quick tear of the Gills keeps the Tuna fresh
White Suit Lie - Robert's dream girl at rest
White Suit Sit - Robert's dream girl sits
Wreck - Freighter wreck Straits of Tiran
Aboudis - Internet cafe owners, the Aboudi's, in Hurghhada
Grand Hotel - Opulence on the Red sea coast, The grand Hotel at night
Grand trees - Too many string lights, The Grand Hotel
Roof Angle - Abstract of roofs
Steps - Abstract of Steps

Naama Bay, Sinai
Neighboring village to Sharm El-Sheik, Naama Bay is where the luxury resorts first popped up under Isreali rule before the Egyptians got it back. Perched on the sea just inside the mountains of southern Sinai, it's a wonderful place, but doesn't feel much like the rest of Egypt, just a fun beach town for Italian tourists and divers. 

Bike Convoy - Quad motorcycle desert convoy at night 
Bikegirl - Janet relaxing on auadrunner in desert 
Scary Spice - Janet after three hours on a motorcycle in the desert 
Danger Sign - I don't know what's behind the door, only that it's bad 
Desert - Mountains and sand 
Hotel Work - Unfinished hotel in Naama 
KFC Logo - Kentucky Fried Chicken in Arabic 
Mountain Set - Sunset in the desert 
Pizza Hut Logo - Pizza Hut in Arabic. Same food though 
Umbrellas - Beach relaxation view above 
4windows - Hotel construction windows 
Cow Truck - Cows on their way to the dinnertable 
Empty Outback - Empty new buildings looking for tenants 
Empty Street - Empty downtown Sharm El-Sheik 
Hot Const - Hotel construction everywhere you look 

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© (1998) James Waldron Design -- Waldron@interport.net