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Going to Egypt After October 7, 2023?

Marcia Ehinger, MD, a native Californian, is a retired pediatrician and genetic specialist. She is the California Writers Club Sacramento Branch newsletter content editor.

Egypt--land of the pharaohs, pyramids, the Sphinx, endless sand, camels and crocodiles--has fascinated me since I was young. As a native of Los Angeles, the Hollywood versions with Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra and Charlton Heston as Moses were familiar to me. It all seemed larger than life.

I had the privilege of seeing the exhibit of King Tut's treasures in Los Angeles. People arrived at appointed times and stood in long lines to view the marvels from the pharaoh's tomb. I still have the photographic guide to the exhibit.

In 1922, English archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun nearly untouched, after thousands of years of grave robbing in the Valley of the Kings. Tut was a minor king who died at age nineteen, but his tomb contained a wealth of treasure. Many of the funerary objects were made of gold. It took Carter's team ten years to catalog it all.

After the discovery, there were tales of a mummy's curse, and many members of the expedition were purported to have died under mysterious circumstances. There was no scientific explanation for their demise; no toxins nor poisonous mold or dust were ever found. Rather than a supernatural phenomenon, it's possible that Carter himself started the rumor as a publicity stunt to stir up interest in funding for the expedition and the subsequent exhibitions of the artifacts.

In 1970, after seven years without diplomatic relations, President Richard Nixon brokered a deal with Egypt for a visit of the treasures of Tutankhamun. The tour was arranged for six U.S. cities, beginning with Washington, D.C.'s National Gallery. There, over 835,000 visitors came (more than the population of the nation's capital) and spent over $100,000 on souvenirs in one week.

As the tour wound down at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, Steve Martin premiered his "King Tut" song and dance on Saturday Night Live.

A few years later, I was working at the L.A. County Hospital with a Palestinian doctor from Jerusalem. Our families became close friends. He and his brothers had made pocket money when they were teens by showing tourists around the holy sites of Jerusalem.



The brothers had taken jobs in Egypt, and they proposed a joint family trip to the Holy Land, and Giza, home of the pyramids. We were preparing to purchase our airplane tickets when a group of terrorists with automatic weapons gunned down European tourists who were viewing the Great Sphinx. We cancelled our plans and never rescheduled.

Now, my grandchildren are the ages of my children back then. One hundred years after Carter's discovery, they visited the King Tut traveling exhibit in Turtle Bay and saw replicas of the treasures from the pharaoh's tomb. As the kids learned more about Egypt in school, they became more and more excited about seeing the real thing.

Their mother found a Facebook page of other home school families talking about their travels. Many of them recommended Egypt Tours Portal. We went online and by April 2023, we had purchased airline tickets and worked with the travel team to package an Egyptian tour. We were scheduled to leave on November 7.

On October 7, Hamas terrorists from Gaza attacked Israel by land, sea and air, killing 1200 people and taking over 200 hostages. In response, Israel declared that Hamas would be exterminated. The rest of the world looked on in shock and horror. Meanwhile, Qatar, an unlikely mediator, and Egypt, Gaza's neighbor, became behind-the-scenes negotiators between the warring factions to broker the release of hostages and find ways to send aid to the besieged civilian population.

Our family followed the news reports closely and pondered the safety of traveling to Egypt while there was a war on the northeastern border. Friends of friends who were planning to travel at about the same time contacted us and shared advice. The other travelers decided not to go. We heard later that after the war began, sixty percent of scheduled trips to Egypt had been cancelled.

We made a different decision and took an Uber ride to the airport on November 7. Shortly before noon, our first flight took off for a travel time of more than 24 hours. We arrived in Cairo on November 8, just before midnight.

~ Marcia Ehinger





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