Sunday, November 4, 2007

Day 9: Papyrus

On the way back from Philae, Grand Circle gave us another shopping opportunity: we stopped at the Osiris Papyrus Museum, which is in fact a place where they create papyrus souvenirs for folks like me.

It was pretty cool. First, we gathered around while one of their guys demonstrated how papyrus is made:


We also learned how to tell real papyrus from the fake stuff vendors try to sell you outside major tourist attractions everywhere, which is usually banana leaves (with bad painting or printing on it): because real papyrus is made out of narrow overlapping strips, it looks like the top of a cherry pie: strips running perpendicular to each other. Fake "papyrus" only has strips running in one direction, because it's just the veins of the leaf.

Then they gave us these little pads of note paper and sent us to wander the gallery writing down which paintings we wanted. It was a pretty nice setup - every item had a number and a price marked - no need to bargain, and the prices were ferociously low. Dad and I went a little nuts - I bought myself a pretty scene from Nefertari's tomb, and a little scene of Akhenaten for the Crippses, and Dad got John a really nice scene of Ramses the Great's coronation, and one of the sky goddess Nut for himself. We put them all on one sheet, because if you go over a certain amount you get a bonus painting thrown in.

We had a little problem when it came time to check out. Dad and I had gotten separated (OK, really, I just got sucked back into the gallery and was wandering around coveting things) so I wasn't there when he was picking up our order - I didn't even know he was doing it. Then I realized I needed a little tube to put my gift papyrus in, and Dad unknowingly had not gotten an extra. I had a lot of trouble communicating with the counter guys, but eventually I had what I needed.

They could have had more of my money if we'd just had a little more time, too! I kept thinking of other people who would have liked papyri after we were back on the dratted bus, but it was too late.

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