Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Pyramids of Giza

While I was backing up all my old word documents this summer and deciding what I needed to take with me to Cairo and what I could leave behind, I ran across a file I wrote in 6th grade that was sort of a "life to-do list" called “20 Resolutions.”
Number 2 on the list was “keep my room straightened up.” We can leave that one unfinished for now.
Number 8 was “write a book.” Also unfinished.
Number 13 was “stay alive on Friday the 13th.” Apparently this was a big concern back then, and we can cross that off up to this point.
Of course, knowing me, I only made it up to 16 resolutions/goals and left the last four spots blank.
Number 11 however, was to go see the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, which I can now successfully cross off the list.

On the morning of Saturday, September 13, I got on a bus to go to the 47th most-popular tourist destination in the world with around 3 million visitors per year...the Pyramids of Giza!
The Faculty Services Committee from my university here organized the trip for new faculty (an exclusive group of which I happen to be a member) for a subsidized cost of 30 Egyptian Pounds (LE) - a little under $6. This was good, because entrance to the pyramids is 50 LE, entrance to the Solar Boat museum (more on this later) is 40 LE, and then we would have had to pay a driver a few hundred to take us around for the day. So this saved me about 150 pounds and we got to go on an air conditioned bus with a professional guide (her side job, she also teaches at the university).

First, we walked up to the Great Pyramid, the Pyramid of Cheops, pictured here.

Angry Camel!


This is a picture of the Solar Boat, which they buried next to the pyramids to ferry the soul to the afterlife.

I guess my reaction to the trip would be this: the Pyramids were big, inconceivably big, even when you are standing next to them and on them. A better testament to their size and grandeur is that when you travel away from them, they don't seem to get any smaller. Even from a tall building in downtown Cairo, on the rare day that the smog isn't so thick that you can actually see the pyramids, they still seem inexplicably large and alien.
As my plane descended through the Cairo smog in August, I glanced out the window and thought to myself, "Hey there are the pyramids," and looked away. Two seconds later a different thought hit me. "HOLY #*@& I JUST SAW THE PYRAMIDS!"

It's hard to believe they are real until you actually touch them, stand on them, climb up the first few blocks, and even after that, in the bus on the way home, you don't really believe it.
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