Posted by: imalqata | March 1, 2010

Our Daily Commute

Monday, March 1, 2010

Arriving at the Garage on the West Bank


Our Daily commute to the site is a bit more scenic than being stuck bumper to bumper on I -85.  After a hearty early breakfast at Chicago House we walk along the river to the dock where we catch a motor launch (or “lunch” as it’s pronounced in the local dialect) to cross the Nile to the west bank and the site.  We have to weave in and out between the gigantic tourist boats and the other motor boats criss-crossing the water. Sometimes we’re buzzed by cormorants skimming over the water in search of a snack.

Mohammad on the Fatma ez-Zahra

We land on the opposite bank and make our way through the bustling streets of houses, hotels, and shops that have sprung up around the ferry landing, dodging taxis, busses, motorcycles, push carts, camels, and donkeys as we go. There, along a narrow dusty street, is garaged the land rover that Chicago House has kindly put at our disposal.  It is a venerable beast with a history going back to Robert Braidwood’s surveys of Iran and Turkey in the 1950’s.

 Having grown rather cantankerous in its old age, only Diana and Ginger have been able to master its eccentricities and coax it through the labyrinth of winding side streets in the town and over the bumpy, dusty roads to the site and back every day.

At the beginning of the season the juggernaut was overhauled and a new ignition installed and that most essential part of an Egyptian vehicle, the horn, repaired.

It's a Tight Squeeze Getting out of the Garage

Our workers, who in the old days would arrive on donkey back now ride motorcycles to work.  Once at the site, though, the un-mechanized process of archaeology, trowelling, scraping, sweeping, and sifting continues much as it did in Braidwood’s day more than half a century ago.

-Peter Lacovara




  1. Good old British Land rover safari. apart from the German half tracks, that was the only vehicle that could cross the desert tried and tested from ww11′
    the yanks had a similar vehicle called the Willis jeep but they forgot to put in 4×4 (didn’t bother)not many survived life in Egypt /Tripoli.
    cantankerous maybe Wouldn’t you be if you lived in this kind of terrain and still be very reliable,, and you can still get parts for it as that model has not changed much since the 50s.
    how come the Nile has got so Dangerous. weaving in and out of the cruisers, need to have a word with Mohamed. if a cruiser is in the shipping lane he must let it pass. why do you think there are so many Police on the river.
    its also a danger to you in the motor lunch! the wake could overturn your craft.

  2. the L L mk 1 land rover was born in Anglesey Wales in 1948.
    when two guys needed something to cross the sands. your vehicle is the mark 11 1956 10 seater 108 base

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