Finding splendor of Egypt in its pyramids, temples NORTH--Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

NEIGHBORS

August 18, 1993|By PAT BRODOWSKI

From a hotel window near Cairo, Mary Linker and Elizabeth Seletzky looked 6,000 years into the past to the pyramids of Giza, rising 500 feet above the desert sand.

They were half a world away from their fourth-grade classrooms at Spring Garden Elementary School in Hampstead. They and a group of 36 others, including several Carroll County teachers, had been lured to Egypt, Turkey and Greece by travel buffs Marilyn Cole, an English teacher at Westminster High School, and Jean Kraynick, a special education teacher.

Eight people in the group had toured Egypt before.

"They knew where they wanted to go. We went to places because of their knowledge [in] art, history, literature," Mrs. Linker said. "They had taught courses [pertaining to ancient Egypt] and were really excited. That really added a lot to the trip."

During the tour, most travelers adopted the local dress, the gallibiya, to reflect the heat that climbed to 120 degrees during the day. The gallibiya, worn throughout the Middle East, is an ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves. It's made of Egyptian cotton.

The pyramids were a short ride from the hotel -- on camels. Mrs. Seletzky recalls, "The camels are so scrungy looking. I stayed away from the front of them.

"I just jumped on one and it got up," she said. "The camel drivers lead you off. They pay no attention to you. And the desert is rocky. It was a very bumpy ride, over the rocks. I pictured myself falling off."

Up close, she found the pyramids were granite blocks "in all shades, gray, tan, pinkish. The bright shining sun makes them look that tannish color."

Mrs. Linker went inside the Great Pyramid, the largest in Egypt, covering 13 acres at its base.

"There was a long passage going down," she said. "You had to hunch over. There were no steps. It was not for the faint of heart."

Her feet searched for narrow bumps of wood embedded in the sloping passage to brake her descent. "You didn't know what was going to happen or what you were going to experience. But your mind is thinking, 'safety.' "

They reached an empty burial chamber. An explorer from the 1800s had inscribed his name on one wall. There were no exotic pictures, no mummy; the pyramids had been plundered centuries before.

Mona, a Saudi Arabian, was their guide. She was living in Egypt to acquire a doctorate in Egyptology. Mona told them the pyramids had been planned with future ransacking a clear possibility.

"They built them anyway," Mrs. Seletzky said. "That's what the [workers] were supposed to do. They weren't slaves. The pharaoh was considered God. They were working for God."

The visitors found the splendor of ancient Egypt not in the pyramids but in the temples and the tombs of the Valley of Kings. The Temple of Karnak in Luxor, for example, covers an area that would accommodate 10 European cathedrals.

"There were [so many] different passageways, it would take hours" to wander through, Mrs. Seletzky said. "Our guide would point out hieroglyphics and tell their story. One passage was used to take gifts to the king, one for offerings to other gods."

"Every temple was architecturally magnificent," Mrs. Linker said. She had walked among the Temple of Karnak's 123 pillars of stone, each reaching more than 70 feet high. "You just walked around with your mouth open. There was artwork everywhere. It had been there for thousands of years."

In the Valley of Kings, where tombs were carved from the mountain rock, the visitors saw King Tutankhamen's treasure-encrusted tomb that somehow escaped plunder until recently. They reached King Tut's tomb via a secret passage.

"It was long, narrow, and very dark. You carried your own flashlight," Mrs. Seletzky said. "We went up 171 steps and down 272. At least you could stand upright. Then we went through a doorway 3 feet high.

"He's still there. They left his mummy in the tomb. Most of the rest is in the Cairo Museum or was stolen."

Paintings covered the walls, untouched by time. The hues of blue, red, orange and yellow "had been made from soils and flowers, and paint bases were all organic. That's why they stayed all these years," she said.

As their tour boat cruised the Nile between temples and tombs, "We saw how pretty the river was, a demarcation between the green farm fields fed by the Nile and where the desert would begin," Mrs. Linker said.

"It was like being back in biblical times. Water buffalo were being used, wagons were filled with hay on dirty, dusty roads," she said. "It's interesting to contrast thousands of years of history with modern life. Human life, to a great extent, doesn't change but adapts to changing situations.

"It makes our country seem so young. American history -- 1492 -- seemed far away until we went to Ireland last year and saw the Celts and Vikings from 1100 A.D. The Egyptians were doing all this -- in 3000 B.C.? It's amazing, magnificent, wonderful."

*

Friends and family of hairstylist Kim Brunner crowded into her Manchester shop last week. It was a surprise celebration for Ms. Brunner, whose shop, Shear Techniques, marked its first anniversary in early August.

*

Bob's Variety is the third storefront to present a new face on Hampstead's Main Street.

"We're going back to the look of 1960," said Donna Hanke, a store clerk. "When it was purchased, the original colors were red and white."

Owner Larry Klinenberg and his father, Bob, who purchased the store three decades ago, spent a week on ladders to brush red letters on white.

"We've returned to the original look," said Mrs. Hanke.

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