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In October of 2000 I traveled on a trip with Mountain Travel Sobek to Egypt. I was fascinated by ancient Egypt, and visiting the country to see its ancient wonders was atop my bucket list. On our second day, we visited the Cairo Museum to see a sampling of artifacts recovered from Egypt’s long history.

As I stood at the crossroad of museum halls, I turned from looking along one series of rooms and nearly bumped into a freestanding display case. When I saw its contents I was dumbstruck. Just inches from my arm was the Narmer Palette, a 5,000 year old siltstone slab I’d seen pictures of in a dozen or more books. At the time of my visit, Narmer was considered the first pharaoh to rule over a united Egypt. On one carved rock side, Narmer wears the crown the Lower Egypt, on the other side, the crown of Upper Egypt.

I’d written a junior college essay years before my visit and used the Narmer Palette as evidence for one of my points. Seeing the actual palette was stunning. For twenty minutes my wife patiently waited for me to finish my orbits around the stone. I thought of how impressive the artisan’s skill was. I thought of the historical significance of the event. I thought how lucky I was to be less than an arm’s length away from one of the most important artifacts in human history.

Over the next couple weeks I saw and experienced many wonders I’d dreamed about. The great pyramids, the Sphinx, Abu Simbel, sunset over sand dunes, a felucca ride on the Nile and a camel ride on the desert, hummus and falafel, Islamic and Coptic churches, bazaars I could have spent days in—and likely would have without a guide to lead me out. All were parts of the almost overwhelming sensory smorgasbord that is Egypt.

But the experience I remember most fondly is suddenly finding myself standing next to the Narmer Palette, a piece of history that still boggles my mind in myriad ways. Gaining those kinds of experiences is what I love about travel. The world and its history are wonder-full. I’m thankful for the wonders I’ve seen and look forward to seeing more.

Jim Driggers, MT Sobek Guest

MT Sobek Trip: Egypt Adventure, 2000