In a ruined temple along the Nile, Anthony Sattin came across a woman praying to the gods of ancient Egypt to bless her with a child. Later the same day, a policeman stopped his taxi to ask if he had a mobile phone ' he wanted to call his mother.
These encounters encapsulated the Egyptian experience: while undoubtedly forward-looking, Egyptians are obsessed with their long and well-documented past. Europeans, Turks, Mamelukes, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Jews, Christians and Muslims have all left their mark; but older than them all are the surviving customs of Ancient Egypt, from fertility rituals and funerary rites to the cult of saints, snake-charmers and magicians.
Anthony Sattin has been travelling in and writing about Egypt for 10 years and contributes frequently to the Sunday Times travel pages.