National Geographic : 2012 May
• almost paranoid about growing thievery, which was nearly unheard of in Egypt before the revo- lution, and a potential breakdown in order. A taxi driver in Luxor has bought a Beretta pistol to keep under his seat. Some Egyptians speak darkly of smugglers bringing guns across the border from Libya. IN THE SHADOW OF THE PHARAOHS e anxiety and tension alone may be enough to drag the country down. Tourism is a major contributor to Egypt's economy, yet the tourist sites we visit are all but deserted. At the temple of Ramses the Great at Abu Simbel, souvenir kiosks at the entrance are shuttered, and metal turnstiles are still. Watchmen dressed in galabias look out over Lake Nasser, waiting for sh or crocodiles to poke ripples in the placid surface of the water. Inside the temple itself there are no jostling tourists. No scents of European perfume, no complaints about the heat or the hassles of travel to yblown corners of the globe. No tour guides explaining why Ramses II is slaughtering the A man at the Giza Pyramids, eager to sell rides to foreigners on his elaborately adorned camels, shows a photo of better days for his business. The number of visitors to pharaonic tombs and temples has fallen dramatically.