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Friday, March 5, 2010


Today we left Alexandria bright and early to fly to Abu Simbel, just 20 km from the Sudanese border. After leaving the breezy Mediterranean, the heat was a shock. Abu Simbel is known as the location where Ramses II built his greatest monument. The four seated statues that guard the entrance to his temple are enormous. Inside the temple were very detailed carvings. At the end of the temple stood another 4 statues of the gods and Ramses, which are perfectly lit by the sun two times per year, on the 22nd of June and December. It wasn't always that way, however. The alignment used to occur one day earlier because the whole temple was once situated at a different site. In the 1960s, the temple was relocated 600 feet away because of the rising waters of the artificial Lake Nasser. A large concrete dome was erected and covered with sandstone. The temple was then moved piece by piece into the dome. The project cost $30 million and was primarily paid for by UNESCO.

After Abu Simbel, we flew to Aswan. Unfortunately, it was too late in the day to visit the Aswan High Dam. The dam was constructed by Nasser with the aid of the Soviet Union. The dam changed the history of Egypt because it ended the yearly flood. Instead of the dam, we went to the Unfinished Obelisk. It was a granite quarry where workers had begun to dig out what would have been the largest obelisk known to us, at 134 feet tall. The method the workers used involved scraping a small piece of diorite against the granite.

Upon the site's closing, we went to the Aswan Bazaar. We were all fitted for galabiyas (shhh! its supposed to be a surprise). At the bazaar we saw the same kind of things found in Cairo, but at better prices.

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