Friday, April 2, 2010

Egypt 25: What goes upmust come down

But, we got to float around a lot first and see more than I can ever show here.

Last time, I showed images of towns, villages and fields.
 This is Queen Hatcheput's Temple, which we would see later in the day.  I have images taken from the ground later that day, but thought you'd enjoy seeing an aerial view of the spectacular setting.  Ignorant of the laws of harmony and proportion?  I don't think so.  (Sorry, I couldn't help the dig.)

To the left one can see the ruins of another, smaller temple that some say was the inspiration for the larger version on the right.

This is another huge site that we would also see later in the day.  It's a village where the tomb workers lived, with a temple.  Take a look at the car park in the mid left edge to get an idea of the scale of this place.

I believe this is the mortuary temple of Ramsis.  We didn't have time to see this temple on the ground.  I include this photo because one can see how portions of the mud-brick wall still surrounds the temple.  One can also see how closely the new and the old Egypt live together.

Here are what's left of the two colossi of Memnon.  Oddly built of sandstone that is hard to work and had to be imported from a hundred miles away.  These two enormous statues are all that's left of a huge temple complex here.  The tallest one stands over 60 feet high.

Another view of the mortuary temple of Ramsis, on the left.  I also included this shot to show, again, how sharp the line between green fields and desert is here.  We have been floating south.  Queen Hatcheput's Temple is nestled into the crook of the hills above, as I look north.

Now, we're coming down to land.  I have several shots of this family, coming outside to enjoy their morning meal not long after sunrise.  The man and children wait as the woman of the house brings the food out.

I have closer views but chose this one because I wanted you to see the vast expanse of sand on which they live.  The domed buildings in the foreground are houses.

I felt like an voyeur taking this shot.  This woman is taking food to her chickens, who live behind the door she is entering.  She had just come out of one of the doors next to the clothesline.  The man of the house had come out before her and was washing his face outside under the tree.

Our ground crew was waiting for us when we landed so they could pull us in.

Our pilot did a very nice job of bringing us down near a road where their trucks could easily haul the balloon back to their base.

I apologize for the number of images in this post.  It may take a while to download.  But, I thought you'd enjoy seeing the process of the balloon collapsing.  Here is a photo of the balloon canopy just as we touched ground. Seconds after this picture was taken...

our pilot pulled a cord which collapsed the center section at the top of the balloon's canopy.  See it all wadded up in the center, here?  The air gushing out of it made it look like a giant jelly fish as it fell.  

Then the ground crew rushed out to finish the job of deflating it.  We were not allowed to disembark until the balloon was completely deflated.

In other countries, where alcohol isn't frowned upon quite so much, tradition demands that champagne be served after a balloon ride.  Here, the ground crew encouraged the women among us to join in a folk dance.  Melony was a good sport about it.

They were good men, they worked hard and they did their job well.  Still, no matter how bright and ambitious any of these men were, it saddened me to think that their career opportunities were so limited compared to those we take for granted in the United States.  So, they make an opportunity to dance with the white women and call it good.

Notice the boy in the back with the donkey.  He was trying to coax some of our passengers to take a ride.  Sadly for him, business was bad that day.  The balloon people urged us not to encourage him by giving him money.  They said that if word got around that he was making money, all of their landing sites would be mobbed with folks hoping to score a bit of the white people's money.

Next time, we visit the excavated village of tomb workers shown in the second photo.

Continue on to Post 26: Boats and tombs by clicking here.


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