On the sixth day of our tour of Jordan and Egypt with Encounters Travel we flew from Amman to Cairo. Our flight was relatively short. It was totally uneventful until mid-flight when I realized that I had lost my phone!
I was working on our taxes with my phone as we waited at the gate for our flight to depart. All of our financial information, online banking, credit card details, passwords, and every other piece of sensitive information that we store on our phones was now lost in a foreign country.
Would my phone fall into the hands of criminals who could wipe out our bank accounts? International terrorists? My mind was racing nonstop with worst case scenarios. Not to mention the hundreds of dollars it would cost to replace my phone.
To ease the panic, I read my in flight magazine from Egypt Air. It was filled with great love stories from Egypt and covered many of the areas we would visit. Apparently, a lot of tombs were built for love.
For me Egypt is a place that I have always dreamed of visiting. I was an hour away from the trip of my dreams and all I could think about was my stupid iPhone. I manage everything from my phone these days, now that we are practically nomads. How could I function without it?
While my mind went wild with all of the possible scenarios of things that could go wrong, Ol was his calm and cool self and told me not to worry. There was nothing that we could do right now, so why worry.
As we landed, I pressed my nose to the window to look for pyramids and Ol was already on top of finding my iPhone. He opened the “find my phone” app on his phone and within seconds, he found that it was still located in the airport at Amman, Jordan. He disabled the phone and sent a message to anyone that may have found it. He was able to do all of this before the plane had finished taxiing to the gate.
We disembarked and were met by Mohammed, a representative from our tour company. Mohammed joked that half of all men in Egypt are named Mohammed. He walked us through getting our visa and while our group was waiting for our bags, he walked with Ol to Egypt Air’s office, so they could file paperwork to report the lost iPhone.
Mohammed assured me that because my phone was an iPhone, I would likely get it back. Because of the tracking features on the iphone, criminals do not take them. He told me that it is a difficult phone to steal.
Feeling better, I was now ready to enjoy the rest of our tour. Mohammed took us to our hotel and checked us in. The hotel was lovely and after waiting for our bags to be delivered to our rooms, we changed and headed for the pool.
The weather was perfect for sitting poolside. We were all starving. After ordering drinks, Jean from Portland, said that she had just come back from the spa. She said that the spa quoted her a price of $25 for an hour massage. After hiking through Jordan and sleeping in Bedouin tents for the past six days, the price was so great that all of the ladies jumped up and quickly made reservations for the afternoon.
Ol stayed in the room and ordered room service dessert. When I returned, I felt like a noodle. All of my cell phone worries were a distant memory. After going nonstop for the last week, it was wonderful just to spend the evening relaxing.
The next morning before checking out of our hotel we met our tour guide, Mohammed or Super Mo as he liked to be called (the other Mohammed from the airport apparently wasn’t joking about Egyptian men named Mohammed!).
Super Mo was an Egyptologist who was incredibly knowledgable about Egypt and its history. We got to know him personally over the next few days and loved our tour. We highly recommend him and will gladly share his contact information.
Our tour of Egypt began with a short bus ride to Giza on the outskirts of Cairo to visit the Sphinx and the three great pyramids of Egypt.
At 500 feet high and 750 feet wide at its base the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) is an awesome man-made structure constructed of giant stone blocks with a hard limestone casing. The casing has, over the years, been stripped away to leave exposed the inner block structure.
Together with the smaller pyramids of Khafre (Chephern) and Menkaure (Mycerinus), the majestic sight of these enormous structures rising out of the desert is a breathtaking spectacle.
We took the opportunity to climb down inside the Queens pyramid. It was a bit stuffy and awkward climbing down but neat to imagine being inside one of the original Wonders of the World. Ol also climbed down into the burial chamber in the great Pyramid. I passed on that adventure because I was worried that I would have to crawl on my knees.
After visiting the pyramids, we walked a short distance to visit the great Sphinx. The half person, half lion monument was beautiful and imposing. It towered above us and stood guard over the pyramids.
I could only imagine the feelings of awe that ancient Egyptians must have felt when encountering such an impressive sight. We were amazed to be standing so close to so much ancient history.
After a morning at these impressive monuments, Super Mo asked us if we wanted to eat like the locals. We all immediately said yes! Super Mo instructed our driver to stop the van at one of his favorite fast food restaurants. He insisted on buying us all lunch to go.
The fast food was unlike anything I had ever had before. When Super Mo was describing what we would be eating, it sounded disgusting to me. But it sounded like something that Elvis and Ol would absolutely love.
I can’t remember all of the ingredients, but here are a few: macaroni, spaghetti, rice, tomato sauce, hot sauce, garlic sauce, and assorted vegetables. It was basically the kitchen sink of leftovers.
Ok, I admit that I was wrong! The dish was to die for! It was delicious! And after juggling lunch on our laps in a van in Cairo traffic we all felt like locals.
Our guide in Jordan, had taken us to eat at nice hotel and restaurant buffets. The food was good but rather bland. However, our time with Super Mo was filled with local delicacies. I can say that he never steered us wrong.
After another short ride we arrived at the Egyptian Museum in central Cairo. This museum is home to the fantastic Tutankhamen exhibit and a huge number of other ancient Egyptian artifacts. We spent the afternoon wandering through artifacts older than imaginable to most Americans who think that two hundred years is a long time ago.
Super Mo was a wealth of knowledge and full of enthusiasm about Egyptian history, and his country in general. He walked with us through the museum reading hieroglyphics and giving us information we would never have learned in a classroom.
In addition to King Tut, the museum houses the largest collection of mummies in the world (we were not allowed to take pictures in these areas). We learned that the ancient Egyptians not only mummified people but also created a whole menagerie of animal mummies as well.
We learned that the Egyptian Museum is in the process of relocating to a larger and much more modern building. Many of the artifacts were being packed and getting ready for relocation. We passed the new museum by our hotel and it is large and beautiful and its architecture is itself a work of art.
After a long day, we caught a late evening sleeper train out of Cairo and headed south through the Nile Valley to Aswan. The train ride was quite an experience itself. Super Mo explained that Egypt had three classes of train service.
Basic train service featured wooden seats and as many people as possible crammed into a limited space. Moderate train service was slightly above basic, but would be intolerable for most western travelers. And finally, the top of the line sleeper service.
We quickly discovered that while this was the best train service offered in Egypt, it was certainly not luxurious. The service featured one bathroom per train car which emptied directly onto the tracks below.
At the end of our first day, Egypt had definitely lived up to the hype. However, after I settled into my bunk, my thoughts turned back to my lost iPhone. It had now been almost two days and still no word.
Even though we had posted a message on the phone, no one had called Ol to let him know that the phone had been found. Ol checked the “find my iPhone” app once more. It showed that the phone was now offline. This was not a reassuring development as it meant that someone had turned off the phone. We could no longer track it.
Would I get my phone back? Was it now in the hands of hackers who would be able to access all of our financial information? Credit cards? How would I even get the phone back when it was in another country? For now I would just have to accept the assurances of our guides and not worry and trust that it would all work out. I was determined to enjoy the rest of our trip and go back to a time before there were cell phones to worry about!