Thursday, May 20, 2010

See the pyramids along the nile

My room overlooks one of the busiest roads in Cairo. It still amazes me that there is so much damn traffic. (20 million people in Cairo alone). I have no idea what it is like on the other side of the street, as to find out would require a suicidal death wish and lots of skill at the game frogger.
Everywhere we go we have an undercover police escort. Secret service suit with an automatic weapon on his hip. They rotate every day and generally pretty cool guys but I have never had this kind of escort, so that is cool. (They will never have to be used, but generally keep the level of harassment down) We also had an actual police escort from the Airport to the hotel. Welcome to Egypt
Upon driving from the airport to hotel we got to pass a beautiful Mosque at night (which Obama spoke at a few months ago) as well as the old citadel. Then we took well deserved sleep to get up early Wednesday morning to go to the Museum.
While at the museum there were a ton of tourists. There was also an Egyptian college class that was having exams. The professor would call them all in individually to one of the large rooms and orally quiz them on anything in the museum. It looked really intense. The entire 2nd floor of the Egyptian Museum contains the finds from the tomb of King Tut. (Insert Steve martin clip-which was recited a fair amount of times-our guide had not seen it ☹) Seeing his golden mask was really cool. These are items we see in history books and National Geographic magazines all the time but are now just a few inches away.
As we were driving, and even from the roof of our hotel is the pyramids of Giza. One of the 7 wonders of the world, it is a real treat to always be so close to “the pyramids along the Nile…” The next day we would go exploring at the pyramids and the sphinx.
That evening we enjoyed a traditional Arabic dinner, on the Nile, with hookah. It was epic. As the sounds bubbles from the water pipes gently washed over us after a filling meal, a half moon started to kiss the Cairo landscape. It was toasted by my tea, which as memory will recall, is always fantastic in this region.
We got up and had breakfast and then hit the pyramids. They are huge, and gorgeous. It still amazes me that something so large was built a few thousand years ago, with minimally basic tools, sleds, and a lot o slave labor. Then we moved to the outer limits of the pyramids for a great view of all three, and many of our team rode camels-some for the first time. I got some decent pictures out of all this (I am still mad I didn’t bring a polarizing lens, the sun is pretty intense, though thankfully the heat hasn’t been bad at all…yet.) This was all followed up with a trip down the desert to the guardian of the three great pyramids: the sphinx. I still can’t get over the fact that I am standing only a few feet from these massive and famous structures. The pyramids can even be climbed over in certain parts.
The 2nd pyramid was open. We got to actually climb down into the burial chamber. This was a very long and narrow chamber as one is supposed to come to the dead king on their knees, so for Jeff and I-both of whom are 6’2 it was a little tight. Still very cool to say I have now been inside one of the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
We then went to a papyrus making place. It was interesting to see how they made it, essentially the same way as originally a few thousand years ago. Then we grabbed a massive lunch of great Arabic meats (I also picked up a box of fruitloops-which I am enjoying now) We finished off the day with a lecture on Egyptian courts from a D.A. who is responsible for taking down government officials in bribery/extortion cases of over 1 million pounds. That evening we went to the traditional Arabic symphony. On the bus ride back, our driver was belting the soundtrack from Sound of Music.


Jane said...

I enjoyed reading this Ian!! I hope you'll have lots of fun!
keep those blogs coming...: )

Alex Masica said...

Sounds like you're having a blast, Ian. I'm so happy for you and the experiences you're able to experience. I am so happy to call you a brother of mine. Have an awesome time abroad.

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