Sunday, May 07, 2006

Cairo Museum

Hi everyone! I have been SO busy seeing and learning new things here in Egypt that I haven't had time to send you an update.

On Thursday (May 4), Kristin and her journalist friend Tina took me to the Cairo Museum. Tina is from Dallas and she is very nice.

We took a taxi from the hotel to the museum. It was a very small car and we had to share the car with another man from the hotel because he was going somewhere near the museum. I thought this was very strange but Kristin says she has been to many places in the world where complete strangers share cabs to help save money.

It didn't take us long to get to the museum despite the traffic. The building is HUGE and it includes a big front yard filled with stone statues. Kristin calls this a "sculpture garden." Here you can see the entrance to the museum.

It is OK to take photos in the "sculpture garden" but it is NOT OK to even bring a camera into the museum. Many people give their cameras to a person at the front gate. Kristin put hers in her purse.

I had to go through another x-ray machine before we Kristin could enter the inside of the museum. I think the guards were looking for cameras. I kept hoping they wouldn't find Kristin's OR take me out of her purse (because Kristin didn't buy a separate ticket for me!). I should not have worried. Everything was fine and we were allowed in.

The museum itself is SO large that I cannot even begin to tell you in words what it looked like. It isn't like the Metropolitan Museum in New York or the Muscatine Art Center. It looks much older and looks very dirty and dusty in places. Kristin later told me the museum is over 100 years old. I had no idea!

There are SO many rooms filled with statues and items behind glass cases that I was worried we would get lost. Kristin told me we didn't have much time to spend at the museum and she told me we would not get to see everything. But, Kristin was really smart! She brought along her guide book. It turns out her book has a map of the museum in it. And, it tells you which parts of the museums are the best.

So, we headed to a place called "The Royal Mummy Room" on the second floor. This is the place where they tell people how Egyptians thousands of years ago made mummies. This was very interesting. If I understood the pictures on the walls leading up to the main room, workers would put salt and oils and other special items on the body. I asked Kristin why. She says the salt and oils helped to protect or "preserve" the body. Then workers would wrap the body with many, many layers of cloth. If someone was really important, they would also place a special mask over the head of the mummy. I had no idea!

Next we entered a room that had several clear boxes with different mummies inside. Some were wrapped entirely and others did not. I could see the head, hands and feet on some of the mummies that were not completely wrapped. I thought it was really cool but I bet it would scare some of the girls in my class! I could tell some people in the room thought the mummies were scary.

I thought the mummies were some that were used in movies I have seen on TV. But, Kristin told me of the mummies in this room were Kings of Egypt thousands of years ago (Kings are men who ran the country. I think this is similar to a President). So this means the mummies I saw used to be REAL PEOPLE! Wow....that is REALLY cool!

Next we headed down a very long hall that was filled with display cases that included everything from small jars to large wooden chairs painted and decorated with gold. We briefly stopped so Kristin and her friend Tina could look at some old jewelry. I think Kristin knew I thought the jewelry was boring but she told me to be patient because the next stop on our visit would be a very special room. So, I decided to be patient and let them see the jewelry.

Kristin kept her promise. The next room we stopped at was the exhibit room for someone called "King Tutankhamun." I didn't recognize the name but Kristin said he is also called "King Tut" since his name is hard to pronounce. King Tut? I know that name! I've seen shows about someone called King Tut on TV so I asked Kristin if it was the same person. She said yes. How cool is that!?

This room includes items found in his tomb which is in a place called the Valley of the Kings many miles away from Cairo. All of the items were pretty neat but my favorite was the gold mask in a glass case in the center of the room. Kristin says this gold mask is very famous. It is the mask that was on the head of King Tut's mummy. It is really bright and shiny. But it is also small. Kristin says that's because King Tut died before he was 20 years old. I had no idea someone so young could run an entire country!

I also liked the two large boxes decorated in gold and other colors at one end of the room. They look like large coffins that are in the shape of a mummy. One box was smaller that the other and Kristin says that's because the smaller one was placed inside the larger one. Kristin says there were actually two smaller boxes placed inside the largest one at the museum. The third, and smallest, is where King Tut's mummy is located. This third box is NOT at the museum. Kristin says the box and King Tut's mummy are still at his tomb. I'm not sure I will get to see his tomb but if not I am going to come back to Egypt someday just to see it!

We left the museum after seeing the King Tut area because we had to get back to the hotel to catch the bus. But, Kristin did buy me some postcards of the King Tut mask and boxes so I could remember them (since she could not take pictures). Her friend Tina also took a few photos of us outside before we left. Thanks Tina!

After we left the museum we had to cross a VERY busy street to catch a cab back to the hotel. Kristin tucked me into her purse so I wouldn't get hit by a car. But the street was SO busy and full of honking cars that I was worried that Kristin and Tina would become flat like me! Somehow Kristin was able to get us safely across the street. Whew! It would be bad if Kristin became Flat Kristin because then she couldn't take any more pictures of me.

When we got back to the hotel, Kristin told me to quickly pack a small bag because we were going to the airport. It turns out we were taking a plane trip to a town called Luxor. See if you can find it on the map. Kristin says King Tut's tomb is located near Luxor and she told me that if I was really good she might take me to see King Tut's tomb.

So I packed really fast and didn't make a sound as the bus drove us through heavy traffic to reach the airport!

The plane ride took about an hour and then another bus took us to a hotel called the "New Winter Palace." It is located along the Nile River. Did you know the Nile River runs all the way through Egypt? I had no idea!

I was very tired so Kristin let me sleep while she went to eat. She told me I would have to get up very early in the morning so I needed to rest. I was so tired that I didn't even ask Kristin to take my photo.

More about Luxor tomorrow. Until next time....