I awoke early the next morning refreshed, dressed quickly and hurried down to breakfast because I couldn’t wait to ride horseback to the pyramids! Mr. Butterfly was already there making eyes at Ernst.
In my eyes, that was taking unfair advantage. They had both waited for me before serving morning tea (chamomile) from an exquisite blown glass tea set.
Ernst had soft boiled eggs and falafel prepared to fortify us for our ride. There was also fresh tamarind juice and clementines from the farm. There was a centerpiece of fresh fruit on the table as well.
Ernst talked about plans for our entire trip. “The Egyptian Entomological Society has hired a specialist in Gerridae, water striders, from Morocco since they have no one here in Egypt who specializes that family of insects to work with Mr. Butterfly. He should be here when we return from our ride. He will travel with Mr. Butterfly and help him collect these insects and try to find new species.”
“That sounds great! Actually, Lepidoptera are my specialty, so it will be a real plus to have someone who specializes in Gerridae. What is his name?”
“Dr. Castagno. He just happens to be in the area. As you might imagine, he travels quite a lot. You and he will travel to outer regions of the Nile Delta where water striders are numerous. I will also send you with a local guide boy who knows those regions intimately.”
“Well, I am well taken care of then. I don’t know how to thank you enough Ernst!” said Mr. Butterfly, as he batted his eyelashes.
“That is where Sue comes in.” Then Ernst turned to me and smiled broadly. “She will be getting the grand tour tomorrow and then I will be putting her to very hard laborious work!”
I blushed uncontrollably at suddenly being the focus of attention and then was embarrassed that I did. “Well I hope it is not slave labor!”
“Close to it, but not quite.” Then Ernst joked. “But today is all about sightseeing and fun. So let’s get to it!”
Nuri packed a cooler with a picnic lunch as they prepared to go. The horses (fine Arabians all) were waiting outside already saddled and ready to take us on their journey. Ernst insisted on helping me take my mount, though I didn’t really need any help, I graciously accepted his assistance of a leg up. After all, all is fair in love and war I thought as I gave a wink to Mr. Butterfly. I looked down thankfully into Ernst’s sparkling eyes and smiled genuinely. He smiled back. Everyone else took their mounts and off they rode down the tree lined path, to a bridge over the Nile and the on a trail towards the desert.
Once we hit the desert we were able to canter across the sand. It felt so good to be on horse back again. It had been far too long for me. My Arab mare was swift and responsive. I think I was falling in love with her. In no time I could see the Great Pyramid of Khufu looming in the distance and later the Pyramid of Khafre joined it. There were many other horseback riders out and about in the desert, as this has become a popular way to see the pyramids.
Finally, we were also able to see the third Pyramid, Menkaure. But, they were still quite far off. We were hoping that since we left really early in the morning, we would be able to get tickets to get in.
We loped across the sands hurrying to get there. At last we arrived. We gave our beautiful Arab mounts to Nuri’s care and ran up to the ticket taker for Khufu. He still had tickets! Ernst had been in many times before, but offered to give us a guided tour. Ever the gracious host, he also bought our tickets. We saw many very interesting things, including coffins of pharaohs, and took just as many photos.
It was pretty cramped in the pyramid, and once, as Ernst was passing by me and put his hands on my shoulders and brushed my ass with his crotch. He did say excuse me, but I wondered if he could have passed by without touching me all the same. It seemed a bit on purpose to me. Not that I minded.
We finished seeing Khufu and went back outside. We walked over the Sphinx and climbed a few other pyramids before lunch.
Lunch was lamb kabobs on pita with hummus and fresh tomatoes. We also had a thermos of fresh tea. We looked back towards Cairo and it didn't seem all that far off. Then we got back on our horses so that we could be back at the house for afternoon siesta.
By the time we returned to the house all of us were completely soaked with sweat and dusted by sand, including the horses. Nuri saw to the animals and Ernst, the young explorer, and I went into the house for baths and siestas.
Around dinner time, I got up, dressed in something cool, and went to the living area to see who else was there. On my way, I ran into Mr. Butterfly and together we proceeded down the hallway. On the sofa was Ernst in rapt discussion with an extremely handsome Middle Eastern looking stranger. Upon seeing us enter, both stood. Ernst quickly introduced the stranger as Dr. Roble Castagno, the entomologist who would be working with Mr. Butterfly. We introduced ourselves. I felt I had better fetch the young explorer’s jaw from the floor where it had dropped. But, he quickly recovered when talk turned to bugs.
Dr. Roble Castagno
“Ah, Dr. Castagno, it is so nice to make your acquaintance. I am sure you will be of tremendous help out in the field since you specialize in Gerridae. Actually I will feel superfluous.” said Mr. Butterfly.
“Why thank you Mr. Butterfly. But please, call me Roble. I am sure I am not needed at all, but I am always glad to be of assistance.”
“Ah, cute and humble too, I like that in a man.” Fortunately, Roble laughed at that comment of Mr. Butterfly's. “I look forward to working with you Roble.” Then they moved closer and shook hands while maintaining eye contact. It was as if an electric current ran through the room for an instant. I don't know about Ernst, but I felt like furniture, I was so left out of the picture.
Ernst broke the moment by saying, “Shall we see what is for dinner?”
Photo credit for Ernst and Roble: Brawny Stud