Smoking With Monuments

If you've been living in an municipality that has had a smoking ban in place for any amount of time then you know that it can be a little jarring to return to an environment where smoking is accepted. Suffice it to say, Egypt and Jordan don't seem like they're ready to ban smoking anytime soon. (It seems unwise anyway what with the cultural restrictions on alcohol — people need to occupy themselves with something, right?)

Egypt in particular seems like a nation of smokers and smoking — and we saw tourists from all over the world embrace that part of Egyptian culture. This also extended to the wonders of ancient Egypt. Not even the Great Pyramid of Giza stopped some from smoking:

View From Great Pyramid of Giza, Giza Pyramid Complex, Cairo, Egypt

Great Pyramid of Giza, Giza Pyramid Complex, Cairo, Egypt

Then again, maybe there's something wonderful that we in mostly non-smoking countries are missing. A luxurious drag on the grounds of the venerable proto-pyramid at Saqqara, for example:

Djoser Funerary Complex, Saqqara, Egypt

It only took Michael a few days of sightseeing to suggest an idea for a new website: "Smoking With Monuments." He wanted to see pictures of people smoking with The Great Wall, the Wailing Wall, the Berlin Wall — any old wall. He wanted to have entire sections set aside for places of worship. He definitely wanted to include natural monuments. It went on from there. Mostly it occupied us while we were at the sites themselves and then when I got home and went through the pictures I couldn't remember how many I took on purpose and how many were accidental. I think most were accidental, actually.

Admittedly, there is sometimes a mixed message when it comes to smoking at or near monuments. At the bazaar just outside Edfu Temple, for example, you can actually buy cartons of cigarettes:

Edfu Temple, Edfu, Egypt

A word about the bazaar outside Edfu Temple — our guide explained that due to security concerns after the terrorism of the 1990s and 2000s, tourist buses were only allowed to stop at Edfu Temple and not anywhere else in the town. This isn't to say that tourists couldn't travel in and around Edfu on their own, just that the big buses were not allowed to stop there. Thus the big bazaar in the parking lot outside the temple — they were trying to find some way for tourists to help the local economy. And I'm assuming this is the reason for the vacant-looking storefronts along the riverfront corniche:

Edfu, Egypt

Edfu, Egypt

And yet, even with all the smoking some places such as Deir el-Bahari in Luxor, Egypt seem to be trying to enforce a social code, at least around certain parts of the temples there:

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Deir el-Bahari, West Bank, Luxor, Egypt

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Deir el-Bahari, West Bank, Luxor, Egypt

Road to Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Deir el-Bahari, West Bank, Luxor, Egypt

And it's not just Egypt. Petra, in Jordan, is a veritable smoker's paradise:

As-Siq, Petra, Wadi Musa, Jordan

Al-Khazneh (The Treasury), Petra, Wadi Musa, Jordan

Urn Tomb, Petra, Wadi Musa, Jordan

OK, so perhaps not an entire website . . . maybe start with a Tumblr?

See also the Big Map: Egypt/Jordan, December 27, 2010-January 11, 2011.

Posted: March 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: National Geographical | Tags: , , , ,

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