Pyramids – Giza, Egypt

After a really emotional sendoff from my students (who saw me crying in the van and started singing me all the songs we had sung together over the last few months, including the alphabet), I boarded my plane.

I had a really nice chat with a Sudanese girl sitting beside me who reassured me that Sudan is not so dangerous as everyone thinks. Infact, she said its really quite the opposite which makes it pretty boring for a young person to grow up in. Then I met Christine who works in Cairo at the American embassy. She invited me to come visit her family and turns out they were celebrating Thanksgiving! So I got to enjoy a traditional dinner (They even let me carve the turkey!) complete with the bird (Gilbert, her husband is African and kept calling it the “animal”), stuffing and pumpkin pie.

I made out early to try and get to the pyramids at a decent time of day thinking maybe I could squeeze in the Egyptian Museum as well. Nice try. I ended up getting accosted by a man who jumped in my taxi trying to sell me a horse or camel ride. It`s a bit tricky here because most of the cab drivers don`t speak any English and you end up driving around looking for a translator. I have tried but truthfully my Arabic sucks and I keep spitting out a mixture of Swahili, English and Arabic.

I was amazed at how close the Giza was to Cairo, only a half hour drive. In fact, on a clear day in Cairo (an oxymoron really) you can see them from many rooftops. So I ended up agreeing to the horse after being blown away with the sheer size of the place. There is no way I would cover all three Pyramids and the Sphinx (which annoyingly everyone kept calling Sphincus or something sounding more like sphincter) on foot. I told the man that I wanted a decent horse, not some dilapidated pony. He ended up driving me to some small alley way which surprise, had a hole in the wall stable. The brought me out a healthy young black stallion and we argued money for awhile before settling on 60 Egyptian pounds which included entry (which is normally 20 anyway).

It was a bit dodgy because we ended up going through some what seemed like back way but the guards were police so I figured it was ok. Nobody gave any entry fee tho so I think that maybe they must have an “agreement.” So I ended up getting a guide (for free!… so he said) who was nice enough, taking pictures for me and telling me some basics about the sites. It was really hot at only 10:30am and I was sorry I didn’t bring any water. What was I thinking going into the desert like that?

I was really grateful when I looked down at the terrain and saw only sand and jagged rocks. My sandaled feet would have been wrecked big time had I chosen to go it alone on foot. So how were they? They were big. Really big. Perhaps it is emphasized by the fact that there is nothing around but a bunch of sand. I was impressed that I could look left and see pure desert, sand dunes, going on as far as I could see, not a soul in site.

Look right and I can see Cairo, old buildings and swarming traffic, complete with a grey smog blanket hovering just above the city. Look straight ahead and standing before me are nine pyramids, Cheops being the largest in Egypt. As I gazed up up up I wondered how on earth…and then I wondered why on earth?

I was a bit annoyed when I saw some people who had climbed up the small one, Mycerinus, and were waving from the top. I thought this was forbidden because it contributed to the demise of the ancient landmarks. I guess it just goes to show, anything is possible for a price. I thought about how its supposed to be bad luck to walk over someones grave. Then I wondered how much bad luck you would get for climbing all over a pharaohs tombstone.

Nevertheless, they are impressive and worth seeing but after a couple hours I had all that I could take. That desert sun is hot and once again I am without sunglasses. I can`t seem to keep a pair for longer than a week. So took one last look at these triangles of rocks piled in this colossal sandbox and then galloped away. Pyramids, done.

Next, I ended up heading to Ramses train station to try and book the night train to Luxor after finding out that the museum closes early during Ramadan. Oh ya, this is the last day of their 1 month fast and everyone is acting really crazy. I don`t even want to tell you how fast I got popped out of the metro when my stop came. People were crowding all over and well, I learned fast to make sure that I use the first car which is reserved for women only. No more creepy men pushing up on me!

So at the train station the madness continued and I ended up having to leave after an hour without my ticket because I was fighting a massive headache. I realized that I hadn`t drunk water all day so I chalked it up to dehydration but man, it was bad. It took most of the night but it finally subsided and I ended up having a decent sleep. I wasn’t too hard on myself as it was my first day navigating around Cairo, one of the worlds highest density cities. Crazy? yes. exhilarating?…we`ll see.

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