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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Luxor, Egypt: A hot air balloon ride

 Photo by Patricia Leslie 
What a grand way to celebrate a birthday, in a hot air balloon over Luxor with about a thousand others! (Not really; it just seemed that way.) 

No need to worry about falling over in the basket since we were about as crushed as Metro riders at rush hour. (When commuters used to ride Metro.  Auuuggghh! (Private DC joke.))


No fatalities, ever!  Said Tarek, the tour guide.  The name of the balloon "pilot in command" on the certificate says "AMR," and he was expert at guiding and driving the balloon, ascending and descending.
  
(Dear Reader, I hope you are not going to skip a trip to Egypt because you are afraid. (Two husbands on our Odysseys tour stayed home because they were afraid. Their wives came without'em. Well, actually one husband stayed home to job hunt which, I suppose, qualifies for an excuse to skip Egypt, but his wife said he was afraid, too.)

Anyway, Egypt is a bargain, folks, with all the sights you've learned about since childhood. You would not believe how far a dollar stretches, l
ike for parchment bookmarks! (10 for one dollar. People I don't even know are asking me for bookmarks.)  


The Egyptians are so welcoming! It's nice to visit a country where Americans are liked and wanted and the subject of street greetings:  "Hallo!  Hallo!" shout the children in their British accents on their way to school. Dear Reader, if you are scared by terrorists, the terrorists win. Besides, you could die at home, in your kitchen or bathroom. Better to be in Egypt, having a good time and doing what you have dreamed about before you go kerplunk. Write and I'll tell you more.)
 The beginning of the balloon ride looks like the end. (Please see last photo.)Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie 
To reach the balloon liftoff, we were up well before dawn to catch the sunrise (and the balloon). This is one of those "have to do" things before you die.
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Right underneath those flames, it's a mite warm.  The workers covered the tops of their heads with their hands. Hmmm....
 /Photo by Patricia Leslie  Adios and farewell to everybody on the ground.
Photo by Patricia Leslie 
These fellows worked with the truck driver on our liftoff.  I think the balloon was attached by ropes to the truck which backed up and pulled on the attachments as we took off, but I really don't know what I am talking about, just observing.  The crew required for ballooning is huge! We always felt safe.
Photo by Patricia Leslie 
The fellow on the right steered this ship in the air, our captain of the sky. Well qualified and confident. More than once he said his balloon gave us a better, longer ride than the competitors in the sky (about six or seven other balloons). He did skim the tree tops and descend and escalate more than the others, I observed, because he must have known it was my birthday, and we were on the best ship in the sky. (Hod - Hod Soliman on Television Street in Luxor.)
Photo by Patricia LeslieSome of the competitors.

 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Photo by Patricia LeslieCompetitors, below. We beat them to the sky.
Photo by Patricia Leslie  Up and up and away we go. This may be looking towards the Valley of the Kings (in the distance) where 63 tombs of the pharaohs have been discovered and where no photographs are permitted. 

King Tut's is one tomb open at this time.  When you descend into the tomb, you can see his mummy under a white covering, lying inside heavy duty plastic or a glass case with his head and feet exposed.  He was only 18 when he died and assumed the throne when he was nine or ten. He was the son of a brother and a sister, and King Tut married his half sister, a practice not unusual then but inbreeding led to early deaths.

Dear King Tut, I think you win the prize for Most Accomplishments in a Lifetime.  I am reading The Murder of Tutankhamen: A True Story by Bob Brier (although I understand most scholars now believe Tut died naturally) and my boss lady loaned me Howard Carter's Tomb of Tutankhamen which is hard to put down.
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Photo by Patricia Leslie  A firing of the jets to boost our elevation.

 Photo by Patricia Leslie That's the edge of the basket in the bottom of the photo.  If you think the basket holds a handful of people, multiple that by ten or more.
Photo by Patricia Leslie The fields are green, thanks to the vital Nile.
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie  Many buildings in Egypt lack roofs which has something to do with tax savings. If the buildings are unfinished (and reserved for future generations), the taxes are lower (I think).
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie 
     Here comes the sun! here comes the sun 
     And I say it's all right
Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right

(Thank you, Beatles)

 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Photo by Patricia Leslie Sun, ahoy, yonder, coming to the Nile.

 Photo by Patricia Leslie  I think our ship, the Royal Lily, is in the middle of the three ships in the foreground.
  Photo by Patricia Leslie  Luxor from the air.
 Photo by Patricia LeslieCan you see Luxor Temple below (right center)?

 Photo by Patricia Leslie  Luxor Temple from the air.
 Photo by Patricia Leslie Competitors in the air. You can never escape competitors, even up high.

 Photo by Patricia Leslie Egyptians burn their sugarcane fields after harvest.
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Photo by Patricia Leslie Roofless buildings

 Photo by Patricia Leslie Coming down

 Photo by Patricia Leslie  An invasion of privacy

 Photo by Patricia Leslie We beat competitors to the ground.  We had the best balloon and pilot.
Photo by Patricia Leslie I thought I was flying high in Napa Valley or in southern France.  I had wine on the brain.

Photo by Patricia Leslie  Where birds fly

Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Photo by Patricia Leslie The end, and the hardest part: getting out of the basket.
 Photo by Patricia Leslie  I'm glad I don't have to fold this big piece of laundry. About ten men were present to help us unload and lead us to the shuttle.
 Photo by Patricia Leslie  A'marching we shall go, through the sugarcane fields to the shuttle (and breakfast!  Yay!) I think the white truck on the right is to carry the deflated balloon back to the starting point.  This reminds me of billboards in the U.S. (?) where land owners receive rental payment. I hope these sugarcane owners receive payment from the balloon companies who land in their fields.
Photo by Patricia Leslie Poof!  And the balloon deflates!  Thank you, Claire, for an unforgettable birthday present!


patricialesli@gmail.com

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