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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back To Egypt...

18 years ago I finally got to fulfill a childhood dream-- visiting Egypt. We planned to spend about a week in Cairo and a couple weeks roaming the country (including a Nile cruise to Aswan). Although it didn't seem so at the moment, some real misfortune for everyone else turned into a break for me and Roland. Just as we were leaving L.A. in November a bunch of religionist fanatics slaughtered a busload of tourists from Switzerland, Japan and the U.K. It was really a spectacular horror show with scimitar-wielding terrorists chasing unarmed tourists around the Temple of Hatshepsut across the river from Luxor and mercilessly slashing them to death. It was a bloody slaughter that went on for almost an hour; 5 dozen were murdered. Egypt, one of the world's biggest tourist destinations, immediately emptied of tourists. And they stopped coming (at for a couple weeks). I feel terrible for the Swiss and Japanese, of course; I mean what a way to go! But... well, Roland and I pretty much had Egypt to ourselves. I mean it was just us and the Egyptians, who, except for the scimitar-wielders, are an extremely generous, friendly and gracious people.

I think Luxor-- ancient Thebes, with goes back to about 3,000 BC-- and its environs (basically the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens) are the biggest tourist attractions in Egypt after the Pyramids. Tourism in Egypt brings in around 10 million visitors a year and accounts for about 10% of the economy. It was devastated by what happened in Luxor and devastated by subsequent acts of terrorism since then. Friday was a biggie, although American media has been pretty quiet about it. ISIS terrorists planted a bomb at an intersection close to the Hotel Medidien where many tourists visiting the Pyramids-- about a mile away-- stay. The bomb was found around 6AM, before it killed anyone but 4 Egyptians (2 policemen and two hotel security guards) were wounded, one critically, trying to defuse it with a water canon.

Last week Morgan Freeman was working at the Pyramids filming part of a #ThisIsEgypt tourism campaign meant to persuade western tourists that tourism is completely safe again. And, yes, he also visited lovely Luxor. It all looks safe to me:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Exactly my thoughts. Always wanted to visit Egypt but been hesitating due to security concerns.