Exploring Cairo and Memphis Egypt

Guest Post: Ruth Elayne Kongaika

I never in my lifetime imagined I would find myself in Cairo, Egypt, but it has happened. My husband, my 86-year-old father and myself traveled to Northern Africa to be with our son and his family who are stationed there.

Egypt is a mysterious country we read about in the Bible and listen to news bytes about on the nightly news (and not always in a positive light). Self absorbed Pharoahs have left colossal monuments to themselves, which have made them unforgettable.

The extensive Nile River seems to defy nature by flowing northward towards the Mediterranean and giving life to a stretch of parched sandy covered Sahara. Gliding on a falucca guided by a toothless navigator up and down the Nile stands out as one of the favorite things we did in Egypt. The city lights of Cairo belied the impoverished state of much of the massive capital. Over 12 million people call it their home making it the most populated city in Africa.Sailing the Nile near Cairo, Egypt 2013

My son attempted to educate us on Egyptian history and culture by filling our days with trips to museums, citadels, mosques, pyramids, temples, as well as cities of the living and dead. It was like having a whole textbook full of Egypt stuffed into one week.

We had begun training for our trip to the land of sphinxes by biking and walking as often as we could, but nothing could have prepared us for the intense heat of the noonday sun in April. Unless you have very thick hair, you might want to don a hat to avoid getting sunburned on your bald spot like my husband did. There are only two seasons in Egypt with November through March usually cooler than the rest of the year. Warm winds from the desert whip fine dust around which clouds the air.

Our family live in a suburb of Cairo where many expats live. Bougainvilleas and palm trees colorize the monochromatic landscape.

One of the first places we visited was The Triad of Memphis. This is the ancient capital of Lower Egypt. I thought Memphis was only in Tennessee, but I was wrong. Few ruins of what used to be a prosperous dynasty still remain. The prophet Jeremiah had prophesied that Memphis would be desolate. Prepare your baggage for exile, daughter living in Egypt, for Memphis will become a desolate place. It will become a ruin without inhabitant. Jeremiah 46:19. 

Ramses II at Memphis, Egypt Copyright REK

And here we were! I wondered if I was at risk, since many people had expressed their concern before I left, knowing I was headed for Egypt. Fortunately, we had a great tour guide who was a good friend to my son. We learned that many chariot factories were anciently located in Memphis as well as richly decorated edifices adorned with gold and precious stones.Head of Goddess Hathor, Memphis, Egypt (Limestone) Copyright REK

The temple of Ptah, where many pharaohs were crowned, was built by Seti and remnants are in Memphis. Colossal statues of Ramses II once stood in front of the temple, two of which still exist. We were fortunate enough to see one of them. It now lays horizontally inside a protective building where you can look down on it. The statue has a cartouche (emblem identifying the image) engraved on the right shoulder, on the belt and on the breast.

Not too far from Ramses II is a sphinx carved from a single block of alabaster weighing eight tons. It is believed to have flanked the entryway to the temple of Ptah.Sphinx at Memphis, Egypt


I plan to write much more about our amazing trip to Egypt, so stay tuned.


Ruth Elayne Kongaika was raised in the mainland, USA, and has been living in the South Pacific for the past forty years. She enjoys trying to capture the beauty of the islands through her photography, painting and writing. She has a blog which shares some of her art and favorite subjects at:


email: kongaikr@byuh.edu

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