Sunday, August 14, 2022
A look inside King Tut’s tomb.Tomatoes drying in the sun on a salt bed.

Longtime traveler's most recent trip takes him to Egypt, Jordan

(Editor’s Note: Dodge County resident Jim Checkel traveled to Egypt and other locations in the Middle East last winter. This week’s Our Neighbor details the first part of that journey to Egypt. Next week he will continue his trip to Jordan.)

Jim Checkel started looking into possible trips to take this past winter.

His sister had wanted to go to the balloon festival in Albuquerque, but never made it so Jim went last year to the festival close to the time of her birthday. Jim’s dad always wanted to see Arlington Cemetery so Jim visited Arlington on the date of his dad’s December birthday.

His mother would have liked to see Egypt, and her birthday was 2/22/1922. When Jim checked into trips he asked the travel agent what was available. She said they didn’t have enough for an upcoming trip in a month, but when he heard it was to Egypt and Jordan, he said sign me up.

Jim was required to have a negative COVID test within 96 hours of his arrival in Egypt. When he arrived, the Egyptian customs agency said this test looks too close to the limit. Jim said remember there is a time difference between the countries so they let him pass and he received his visa. He arrived on February 21,just one day short of his mother’s birthday on the 22nd.

The hotel they stayed in Cairo overlooked the British Embassy but he did not realize that at first. The tour group went to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo which has 50,000 items on display from 5500 BC to 364 AD. They have an additional 150,000 items that they do not have room to display.

The 19-member tour group headed out to see the pyramids of Giza. The pyramids are located a few blocks from the city of Cairo. When you see photos of the pyramids it looks like they are far out in the desert from that angle. Jim said tourism has been down 80% because of the virus so the vendors are extremely aggressive with the tourists.

They are right in your face, they try to put their trinkets in your pocket or bags and then demand payment. The guide told them to not even make eye contact or talk to them and they especially harass female tourists.

Jim lined up a camel ride and the prices were $20 plus $5 for the camel handler. When Jim got to the location, the camel guide said he needed to also pay him an additional $5 as Jim didn’t pay him directly. The handler would take photos of Jim riding the camel using various poses. Jim then needed to give him an additional $5 before he would give his camera back.

There are three large pyramids located in the Giza area, and they are surrounded by 16 smaller ones that would be the site for the high priests, wives, and others.

The 60-ft. Great Sphinx is also in this area and was buried under sand for centuries. There are different theories on how the Sphinx lost its nose such as being blasted by cannon fire but natural erosion over the centuries, also caused destruction.

Excavations have also discovered water canals that were used by ships to bring building materials and blocks for the pyramids. They feel they have only uncovered half of the area sites that are still buried by the sand. The Giza pyramids were covered with smooth limestone blocks so they would be dazzling white and glow in the sun, but this has been lost over the centuries. The limestone rocks have been removed by earthquakes and used for other building projects during the middle ages.

When Jim realized he could go into the interior of the pyramids and see the chambers he quickly paid the $20 to do this. When Jim was ready to enter the pyramid interior, a man commented about the Kibble Equip JD cap Jim was wearing so he asked where he was from.


Photo: Jim Checkel checks out his camel-riding skills in Egypt.

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