Masbuts drunk, we headed back east thinking we might be able to visit the Karnak teftish in order to fill out the necessary paperwork for using the Karnak Lab, but finding that the Director was absent, we opted to have a lemoon at Oasis Palace instead. However, this allowed us to meet up with Yaser, who had secured the permissions for all of the students to attend the field school. Oasis Palace has become something of a haunt for Egyptologists, not just us, as it was to prove today when who should walk in just as we were finishing our meeting, but Francesco Tiradretti, Director of the Italian MIssion at the Tomb of Harwa (TT37). He was as thrilled to see us as we were to see him, and almost immediately extended the invitation to have pizza with his team at Casa Italia, his dig house on the west bank. Naturally, we accepted on the spot, learning that our seasons would happily overlap.
Lemoons finished, we bade farewell to Yaser and headed to Hazem’s for the planned family meal. It was delightful to see his sister Noha and her twin boys Bara’a and Bilal, now 10 months old, as well as Ahlam’s husband Abdullah, both of whom joined us for dinner. Hazem’s borther Ahmed was unable to east with us as he was directing the building works still progressing outside as the family is extending the house upwards to accommodate extra floors for when the sons marry, a long-standing tradition in Egypt. Hopefully there will be another opportunity before he heads to Cairo. The food, which Hazem’s mother had prepared, was absolutely delicious and included many of our favorites. Comfortably full we packed our bags and moved into the newly cleaned and readied flat belonging to Dr. Betsy Bryan, where we have stayed in past years. After unpacking and settling in, we realized the “exertion” had worked up an appetite and we were getting hungry again. It has been at least 3 hours, and as so many of you will remember, we need to eat every 3-4 hours! Aware of an empty refrigerator, Will suggested that the obvious solution was to go to our standby, Pizza Roma, for dinner and a beer to celebrate our return. All in one day we managed to touch base with 3 of our favorite watering holes, which even for us is something of a record!
We had been invited to Sayed and Safaa’s for lunch after the work, but seeing as we had finished early, and both Hazem and JJ had a lot of work to do, it was decided that we would return early and return back to the west around 3, giving Sayed and Safaa extra time to prepare the meal as well. In the end Hazem was unable to join us as he was still collating handouts for the students, but JJ and Will enjoyed a marvelous feast of duck, Egyptian fried chicken, and a vegetable and meat tagine, all dishes that we had been treated to at their house last year. We spent a lovely couple of hours eating, talking, and getting reacquainted with their two daughters, Jana, now 4, and Malak, nearly 1 year old. The rest of the day was spent back at the flat with JJ finishing up her lecture preparations while Will learned further features of his new computer. And of course, JJ followed the Eagles victory parade through Philadelphia in real-time on her computer and through facetiming with Raphael and the boys.
Watch this space to see what ensued the following morning …