Bethany contacted me about halfway through her pregnancy asking if I would be able to take maternity photos of her in Egypt before she returned to Canada for the birth of her little one. Because of our pregnancies, Bethany and I hit it off right away. After talking a bit, we decided to head to a truly unique spot for maternity photos…

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For our winter vacation, Luke and I decided we wanted a little R+R, so we headed to Koh Samui, Thailand. We had such a good time exploring the island, getting a massage or facial most days and just relaxing on the beach. Here are a couple photos from our trip.

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In late February, I had the opportunity to visit a local camel market in Egypt with some colleagues. We woke up early on a Friday morning to venture to a little town outside of Cairo. Even though I knew it might be difficult to go there, it was something I wanted to see and document since I heard about it nearly a year and a half ago.

To be honest, I’m an animal lover and at times it was difficult for me to be there. You don’t see it in any of the photos I posted, but most of the camels had one leg bent and tied up, so they couldn’t run as fast if they tried to get away (they walked on 3 legs). It was also hard watching them load the camels onto the backs of trucks after they had been sold. They would squeeze several of them into the back of a truck, and you can imagine that the camels didn’t like that very much. At one point, a smaller camel that did not have his leg tied up, ran away from the area it was supposed to be in. It was amazing to watch camels of a different herd surround and try to protect him from the man chasing after him.

Camel selling is definitely a man’s job in Egypt. I was one of maybe 5 woman that I saw there (and 2 of the woman came with me). There were also many young boys who were helping their fathers/grandfathers control and keep an eye on their camels. Some men just ignored us, while others were very welcoming and said welcome in English or Arabic. One seller we spoke to actually spoke quite a bit of English, and was telling us about the camel that I took a close up of – she was old and not worth much anymore he said.

While I was there, I tried to keep an open mind and respect that this is part of their culture and a way of life for many men in Egypt and other parts of the Arab world. If I had to guess there were between 5,000-10,000 camels being sold for meat or work at the market. Some of the camels trekked all the way from places like Sudan to be sold at the market. Here are a couple of photos I thought captured the essence and atmosphere of the market.

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During our winter break, Luke and a couple of our friends flew down to Aswan in Upper Egypt (southern Egypt) to take a 4 night cruise on the Nile River.

Before writing about our adventure, I do want to make a recommendation to anyone who is thinking about visiting Aswan/Luxor. Our guide, Medhat, was AMAZING! We paid him a flat fee (and gave him an extra tip at the end). The fee we paid took care of EVERYTHING – including entry fees, boat rides, horse carriage rides, transportation to and from sites, and most importantly tips for everyone we encountered (cruise boat employees, horse carriage drivers, etc.). I highly recommend him! If you’re interested in contacting him, his email address is medhat_abden@hotmail.com.

Now onto our adventure…

Day 1: The High Dam, Phailae Temple + Nubian Village We flew from Cairo to Aswan in the early morning (we left at 2AM to catch our 6AM flight). Our guide, Medhat (medhat_abden@hotmail.com), met us at the airport and we immediately headed to the High Dam. The High Dam was built between 1960 and 1970. The construction of the dam created one of the largest manmade lakes in the world, Lake Nasser. Our guide told us that if the dam were to break, it would cause a huge flood that would reach Cairo in 12 hours. After visiting the dam, we drove a short way to a small port where we hopped on a boat that took us to Phailae Temple.  Due to flooding caused by the construction of the dam. The temple was taken apart and relocated to it’s current location on a Agilkia Island.

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After visiting the temple, we headed to our cruise boat to settle in and eat some lunch. After a short nap, we hopped on another small boat and headed to a nearby Nubian Village. We visited a house were they had pet crocodiles – Luke and some of our friends had the opportunity to hold one! We had some mint tea, bought a mask and then headed out to explore the village. Below are a few photos I took on our way to and at the Nubian Village.
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Day 2: Abu Simbel + Sobek Temple On our second day, we woke up at 3:00AM to join the convoy to Abu Simbel – a 3200 year old temple cut into the side of a mountain. The drive to Abu Simbel took about 3 hours. Medhat told us that the reason we had to go in a convoy was in case there was an emergency (i.e. vehicle trouble). There was a police escort in the front and back of the convoy who had radios and enough room to transport people if need be. On arrival to the temple, we walked around and explored the beautiful temples until 10:00AM, which is when the convoy headed back to Aswan. Like Phailae Temple, these temples were also moved from their original location. We arrived back to the cruise boat around 1PM – just in time for lunch. As soon as everyone was back on the boat, we set sail for Sobek Temple. We arrived at Sobek Temple just after sunset. The temple was lit up beautifully! Two of the highlights of visiting this temple were the images of Cleopatra and the carvings of a calendar. Day 3: Edfu Temple (Horus’ Temple) + Luxor Temple Our boat cruised through the night and when we woke up we were in the city of Edfu. We woke up early to catch a carriage ride to Edfu Temple, so we could be at the temple right when it opened. We explored the temple with Medhat. In one area of the temple, we were told that ghosts show up in photos. We tried taking photos in the area, but did not see any ghosts.
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After returning to our cruise boat, we set sail for the rest of the day. We enjoyed sitting on the deck, relaxing, reading and playing backgammon. Just before lunch we went through the Esna Lock where we had to be lowered 7 meters to continue on. While waiting in line for the lock, several men were on the land beside the boat trying to sell scarves, table clothes and other items to tourists. There were even 3 men in a small row boat next to our ship trying to sell things. The men would roll up the cloth items and throw them 3-4 stories to the upper deck of the boat where we were standing/sitting. If you liked the item they would send up a weighted bag that you would put money in and throw it back to them. After our long journey, we finally made it to Luxor. We visited Luxor temple at night with Medhat.
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Day 4: Valley of the Kings, Hatsheput Temple, Colossi of Agamemnon, Alabaster Shop + Karnak Temple After breakfast, we headed to Valley of the Kings. Unfortunately, we could not bring cameras into the valley. There are over 100 tombs that have been discovered in Valley of the Kings. At the time we visited, there were only 5-6 tombs that were open to the public – our ticket allowed us to visit 3 of the tombs. We were amazed by how colorful the tombs are after all these years. Another interesting thing we saw was a real live archeologist and her crew working to put together broken pottery! After visiting the Valley of the Kings, we headed to Hatsheput Temple and Colossi of Agamemnon. Near Colossi of Agamemnon, a new 20 some meter statue was discovered and erected just a few days before we visited. Our last stop on our way back to the boat was an alabaster shop. At the shop they showed us how the artists they worked with shaped and polished the alabaster pieces that they made (see below). We then had an opportunity to buy some things from their shop – Autum bargained hard and ended up getting a vase, camel and mummy for only 400 LE!
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After lunch and a short nap, we headed to Karnak Temple. They are currently excavating a 3 kilometer path lined with sphinx like statues that connects Karnak Temple to Luxor Temple. Luxor is filled with amazing artifacts and history. According to Medhat, 1/3 of the world’s antiquities are in Luxor. Another cool story Medhat told us was that a few days before we visited a group of kids were playing soccer in the road. They were searching for rocks to use as goal posts and ended up finding some ancient statues. The photo below from Karnak Temple has a funny story behind it. The tour guide would talk about something at the temple, point to it and all of the tourists in his group would turn their cameras, phones and tablets towards that area to take a photo. They kept turning together in different directions to snap pictures – it looked kind of funny!
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Day 5: Back to Cairo We woke up early to catch our flight back to Cairo. Day 6: Alexandria Luke, our friend and I headed to Alexandria for Christmas Eve. We visited the old fort and also the Library of Alexandria.
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M o r e   i n f o