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Luxor, Egypt

Continuing our tour with Encounters Travel, we have toured Jordan, Cairo, and the pyramids and spent a couple of days sailing the Nile on a felucca. After so many days together our little tour group of seven felt like a small family.

After spending the day sailing down the Nile on a felucca and an evening of dancing and singing on the beach, we enjoyed trying to teach our guide Mo, how to play Yahtzee. I couldn’t believe that Dr. Lillian from Vancouver had never played before. On her first roll she rolled Yahtzee! I never thought I'd be playing Yahtzee on the Nile.

Of course I had to make it a drinking game. Our felucca stocked really good beer but the wine was questionable. Christina had purchased a bottle the night before and after one sip it remained untouched. When she tried to get me to taste some, she could not keep a straight face. So the next night, whoever lost Yhatzee had to drink the wine. Of course, it was Karma, I suggested the game and I lost. Let's just say that it tasted like moonshine, with a wine after taste.

After another restful night on the felucca, and breakfast on-board, we bid farewell to our felucca crew and drove north to Luxor. I don’t know what it is, but I seem to sleep so well under the stars.

On the tour van Ol had a chance to check his email. He wanted to see if the Lost and Found Office in Amman, Jordan had responded to our calls. Unfortunately, they were requesting additional information, despite calling us the day before, from my phone! Ol quickly snapped photos of his passport and proof that we had been in Jordan. He then asked them to send my phone from Amman Airport to the Cairo Airport and we would pick it up there. Of course we were willing to pay all costs associated with shipping. That sounded simple enough. I could have my phone back in the next day or two!

We checked into another wonderful hotel and then headed out on our tour of Luxor. The town of Luxor was built on and around the ancient city of Thebes and boasts the largest concentration of ancient ruins in the Nile Valley, if not the world. To the west of the Nile lies the City of the Dead, with its mortuary temples and rock-hewn tombs, while to the east lie the Temples of Luxor and Karnak.

Our afternoon tour was to the huge Karnak complex with our Egyptologist guide Mo. It was mind-blowing just how large the complex was. It seemed to be a temple for giants.

Christina was like a celebrity. She had dozens of school children following her. Mo told us that to local Egyptians every American looks like a movie star. And, Christina, with her red hair was like a rock star.

We were also thankful for our days of hieroglyphic lessons from Mo. We were actually able to understand some of the writings and could read the names of various Pharaohs and the different gods.

Later in the evening we took a walking tour of the smaller Luxor Temple which was right in the middle of town and beautifully lit up at night.

After a long day, Ol and I decided to retire early. In the morning we were scheduled for a spectacular hot air balloon flight over the west bank of the Nile. Some people had to leave as early as 4 a.m. for sunrise but we had a later fight at 6:00 a.m. It was spectacular seeing all of the balloons in flight.

We were the last balloon of the morning to take off. Unfortunately, just as we were above the Valley of the Kings and catching the wind, we had to descend, because of cloud cover.

It was disappointing to see all of the balloons fly away and we ended up pretty much where we started.

It was wonderful seeing the tombs from above, but for me the highlight was seeing all of the kids on donkeys following us. When we were descending and the ropes were dropped, the kids on the ground put on quite the show. It was better than most rodeos.

After our ballon flight we headed back to the hotel to check out.

Ol checked his email and there was another message from the Lost and Found Office at the Amman airport. The message explained that although they had my phone and they were satisfied that it was mine, they could not send it to me.

They explained that their policy is to turn over lost items to their owners but that they could not ship items anywhere. They explained that they would hold my phone for thirty days and that I could stop by their office and pick it up anytime. If it wasn't claimed in thirty days then they would have to get rid of it. How could I pick up the phone in the Amman airport when I was now in Egypt?

I had no plans to return to Jordan and could not possibly get to their office within thirty days! Just when I was hopeful of getting my phone back I was confronted with new obstacles.

When Super Mo heard about our new problem, all he could do was shake his head and say "Welcome to the Middle East! Nothing is easy here!"

After our balloon ride we spent the late morning and afternoon exploring Luxor's West Bank, home to the Valley of the Kings! It seems that our itinerary Just gets better and better. Just when I think I can't see anything more fantastic, I see something more fantastic! Honestly, I haven't had time to miss my phone and thankfully I travel with my own photographer. So here is another travel tip... Ditch your phone (not in a foreign country) and live in the moment!

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