The Land of Gold

 Corridor of Sphinxes, Luxor, Karnak, Egypt

I recall thinking that I had to be dreaming, for I was unable to believe my eyes the first time I set them on the archeological site.

I took the road flanked by sphinxes to get from Luxor to Karnak Temple and continued walking until reaching the Sacred Lake, which was certainly a sight to behold. Priests used to inhabit these temples and worship the giant scarab of stone located at the front. It used to be a place of pilgrimage for women seeking to conceive. Now, tourists circle it, in the hope that it may somehow bring them luck. The first time I went around it, I wished to become a tourist guide someday and be able to return to that place with a party of tourists eager to catch pearls of wisdom from my lips. Now that my dreams have come true, when I round it, I giggle inwardly like the girl I used to be back then and ask for love.

After our visit to the Luxor and Karnak Temples, me and my group board the ship that is going to take us down the Nile to Aswan, named the Land of Gold, as it was regarded a great treasure back when it was founded, or Sono, meaning, “market”, as it used to be called in ancient times, when it became an important trading center. It still is where I advise the tourists to do their shopping, for it offers it all, from perfumes to Nubian garments, antiquities, replicas, …

The sun starts to sink. The light reflecting off the water of the Nile lends it the vibrant colors of the sunset. It is simply breathtaking. A gentle breeze comes up.

Night falls. The sky becomes sown with stars, which shine so bright that one is misled to believe that they lie within arm’s reach. It’s time I told my group about Ramesses II, the pharaoh who married many times but only ever loved Nefertari, to whom he devoted a temple.

Tomorrow we are visiting El Nabatat Island, where the world’s oldest botanical garden is located, which boasts some funny and fascinating trees and plants. That is where I first met Ahmed, my better half.

It was years ago. I was in my first year of college studying Tourism and Hospitality Management and had decided to go on a trip to Aswan with some of my classmates. It was my second time visiting the city. He was our guide. The dedication he showed to his job and the confidence he oozed when describing our surroundings made him look drop-dead gorgeous. I still use some of his explanations for the architectural features of the temples when telling my tourist groups the history of the sites I take them to. After the tour, he came to me and introduced himself. We spent that whole afternoon talking about the profession, the industry, Aswan, Luxor and, as the sun dropped, about the moon and the stars. I couldn’t get enough of the pleasing sound of his husky voice. The last day of our trip, he proposed. It was too good to be true. He was everything I had ever wanted in a man.

Every year since we got married, we organize a trip to Aswan. This year, he couldn’t make it. He had some work to finish in Cairo. I am now standing in the exact spot where he popped the question. I miss him. I wish he were by my side. Suddenly, someone pats me on the shoulder. Who could it be? I turn around. It’s him!


Written by Sally Gamal Ahmed.