An obsession with Alabaster

I love cruising on the Nile; a good dose of history and culture each morning as you explore, but afternoons are spent on deck watching fishermen busy with their nets, a farmer with his buffalo staggering up the bank with a precarious pile of sugarcane and young men playing football on a rough pitch overlooking the river.

The sun sinks towards the horizon in vibrant shards of red, orange and purple. It’s easy to understand why the Egyptians thought the Sun God, Ra, was so incredibly powerful. If it weren’t for the risk of spilling my marguerita, I am almost ready to bow down in front of Ra myself.

There are plenty of places to shop and yes, the locals may seem pushy. I suppose it helps that I speak Arabic; if only to tell the more persistent vendors I already own a galabeya and have enough perfume oil to start my own shop. But I just can’t stop buying alabaster pots and bring at least one home after every trip; the soft, soapy texture is irresistible under my fingertips while light shining through the thinly carved stone is utterly captivating.

The ancient Egyptians believed that “To speak the name of the dead is to make him live again” and nowhere is this more apparent than in the Valley of the Kings. The king’s formal names and titles are inscribed in each tomb along with images and statues. Close by, the mortuary temple of Queen Hatchepsut is one of the most dramatically situated in the world. It’s a stunning example and almost as exciting – there is an alabaster carving factory on the road back! But that’s just the tip of the pyramid of this fascinating country that is on absolutely everyone’s bucket list. You should definitely experience it for yourself.