Saturday, April 09, 2005
The Weekend Riders
I don't always join them on their weekend rides. Sometimes I've been running all over all week and I really want a Friday morning to sleep in a bit without the rush of feeding parrots and dogs so that I can be somewhere else. Most Saturdays I have clients that come to ride in the morning precluding participation as well. At least once a month, however, I make a point of riding out with the Friday Morning Gang.
Weekend visitors are often part of the crowd and provide fascinating continuity for us. One weekend the German ambassador in Tehran was visiting Cairo. As he'd also been the German ambassador to Egypt a few years before, he was a good friend of some of our riders with whom he'd ridden on weekends before being transferred to Tehran. I remember riding with Paul when he would come to ride with the group before Magdy died.
On this particular ride we were all enjoying the cool weather that has been our blessing this spring. The horses were quite full of themselves and many of the young ones skittered like wind-blown leaves across the sand. We all headed up the wadi that extends westward from the Sakkara complex. At the head of this wadi is a butte, a flat-topped hill rising from the desert floor, from which Magdy loved to survey our domain. Reaching the top of the hill before some of the other riders, I turned to catch this shot of them as they approached the butte.
We were in for a big surprise when one of the riders on arriving at the top of the hill let out a shout of surprise when he almost galloped into an enormous hole that had not been there only a couple of weeks ago. Stepping gingerly around the excavation and peering cautiously into the hole, we noticed that there were what appeared to be large stone blocks lining the hole in the sand. None of us had ever noticed anything special about the sand on top of the butte on previous rides, but it was apparent that someone had been paying much more attention to the geography of the area than we were.
We have no idea if anything was found in the hole that the anonymous diggers excavated. We certainly saw no signs of plunder on the ground around the hole. This isn't the first of these unsanctioned excavations that we've found. There are more sites to be excavated and catalogued in Egypt than can be imagined and it is a rare desert ride that doesn't turn up signs of a disturbed site.