Sands of Time

Sand collected in Egypt, 1977

"Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;"
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

No one has left bigger footprints in the sand than the ancient Egyptians. With relatively narrow bands of arable land bordering the the Nile, they built most of their great monuments in the desert.

Reading Nighthawk's interview of Khasekh from Asenath (by Anna Patricio, Imajin Books) reminded me of one of the most memorable of our family trips.When I was eighteen, we took a cruise down the Nile. By "we" I mean my mother, father, sister, four cousins, aunt, uncle and Nana. The eleven of us made up about a third of the passengers on the boat. Maybe a half. It wasn't a big boat.

We flew to Aswan and cruised north to Cairo. It was the most amazing trip I almost didn't take. Foolishly, I considered staying home alone so I could assert my independence. Yeesh! Talk about young and foolish. I changed my mind - just in time - and got to assert my independence by sharing a cabin with a forty-something divorcee named Ursula. After the onboard Egyptologist lectured us on the temples and monuments we would be visiting, Ursula lectured me on the importance of moisturizers and what OLAY meant.

If you've ever watched The Mummy (1999), our boat looked exactly like the one they travelled on, minus the horses. All the places they visit in the Mummy Returns (2001) - excepting the oasis with the diamond topped pyramid - we visited. Watching the movies is like home movies with an adventure thrown in. When I'm old and senile, I'll probably tell my grandkids how I collected sand from Hamunaptra - The City of the Dead.

In fact, I'm not sure where in Egypt I scooped up the sand that resides in the bottle above. It might have been after our camel ride. I would have been very appreciative of sand beneath my feet by then.