Chaotic Cairo keeps a mass of experiences coming at me thick and fast – I leap from one time to another in this intense jumble of ancient and new. My guide for the next 10 days in Egypt is Sherif. He is not only the guide for the tour, but also the local guide for all our excursions and sightseeing. Since he was born in Cairo and has lived here all his life, he knows Egypt like the back of his own hand. His passion for Egyptian culture really wears off on me and I’m always excited for what I’m going to do and see next.
We uncovered the glory of the Pharaohs in the Egyptian Museum. There is an amazing collection of King Tut’s treasure – he had a lot of stuff. I saw his glitzy throne . . . which is actually a lot smaller than you’d think! I’m assuming this is because King Tut was only 17 and never really grew that big. We also got up close to royal mummies and jewels that were raided from their tombs. There was no air conditioning inside the museum, and it was about 42 degrees Celsius in Cairo. It was so hot in there. But I’m in Egypt in August – I knew what I was getting myself into when I booked this trip. I also decided to book my trip to Egypt six months after the prime minister’s resignation in the middle of the riots, but that’s another story.
Our next stop after the museum was the iconic Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza!!! They are the only survivors of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Sherif cracked open the 4,600 year old history behind these massive monuments that 30,000 workers took over 80 years to build.
How can you fathom the moment when you lay eyes on a pyramid for the first time? It was almost as if a genie appeared out of nowhere and offered to grant me a wish. The pyramids truly are one of the most iconic sights on the planet. Set against the backdrop of a desert 30 minutes from Cairo, the pyramids felt almost unreal and mythical. As I set eyes on them for the first time, I went through a mixture of emotions. I was awestruck, humbled, amazed, and simply feeling blessed for the privilege of standing in front of them.
As I turned and saw Cairo in the distance, I thought back in time when Giza was simply a world away from civilization, a place where the great rulers decided to build their final resting spots. With the tallest pyramid standing at a colossal 139 metres, the pyramids dominate the Giza Plateau. Around 2 million limestone blocks were cut and assembled to build the Great Pyramid, which is the resting place for the pharaoh, Khufu. The pyramids can be seen from downtown areas of the city, providing a constant reminder to modern Egyptians of their ancestors watching over them, as they have done for more than 4,000 years.
I was fortunate enough to be able to enter a pyramid. As expected, the pyramids are dark and it feels surreal as you walk into the dimly lit and sharply descending space. Despite the darkness, it was hot in there! As I made my way down I had to uncomfortably hunch over , making it difficult to breathe. Completely worth it though, to say I’ve been inside an Egyptian pyramid. Each stone block of the pyramids went to my waist. I noticed them, not the other people around me. They were mine for reflection and contemplation. All I could think of was how hard it must have been to make them, and how much will it took when there were no cranes or power tools. Sherif explained to us that the pyramids weren’t built by slaves. The discovery of vast worker settlements shows that workers were actually well provided for with food and medical care.
Since the political system in Egypt wasn’t the greatest at the time (or even in existence) in conjunction with the ongoing riots, there were hardly any visitors at the most popular sights! Much to my parents’ chagrin upon informing them I was going to Egypt at this time, the chance to see the world’s ancient wonders relatively free from other visitors was a fantastic privilege. I would even recommend others to take advantage and go now as it’s one that’s sure to be short lived.
That looks hot and dusty – fascinating too.
Hot and dusty – oh yes. Fascinating – words can’t describe!
Awesome photographs! You look like you had a great time! You might enjoy my poem, “Oh Cairo” http://aishasoasis.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/poem-oh-cairo/
It was such a great time :) Thanks so much!