Monday, March 1, 2010
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.
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.
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.