Touring the Pyramids of Egypt
Touring the Pyramids of Egypt.
I was up at 06:55. My alarm was set for 07:03 which would give me just five hours of sleep. It is incredible how a brain wakes itself up just before the alarm clock even when the brain knows it needs more sleep. How does the brain actually know what time it is when it is sleeping? How does it physically know when 07:03 is to wake you up just a little before? If I had not set an alarm for 07:03, I would not have slept hard and not awoke until at least 09:00. Paranoia of sleeping in for a planned trip make me wake up on time, but how is the sleeping brain able to tell time in such a way? The 24 hour clock is a man-made invention. Normally, I naturally wake up at 09:00. So, how does the brain know when it is two hours earlier than that to wake itself up? How does a sleeping brain physically tell time? It is not like your sub-conscience is staring at a clock the whole time to know when it is time to wake up… It is truly remarkable how that works…
Breakfast in ‘Wake Up! Cairo Hostel!’ was supposed to be at 08:30, but the male receptionist made breakfast for me at 07:55. Breakfast was a frozen piece of bread that was microwaved and thrown on a plate with a little bit of apricot jam. I am not sure if that was what you would get for breakfast at 08:30, but it is what you get if you want breakfast early because…you are touring the pyramids of Egypt!…
My driver, Magad, was right on time and he drove me to the village of Giza to sort out my trip to the pyramids. He wanted to know:
“Do you want to walk it? Ride a horse? A Camel? It is up to you.”
“Well, I guess if I am here I might as well get the full package and ride a camel while touring the pyramids of Egypt!”
Magad drove and took us to a small and dirty room where I negotiated a 620 Egyptian pound ($34) two hour guided camel-ride trip through the area with six pyramids and the Sphinx down. I dragged them down to 400 Egyptian pounds ($22) for it all. It felt like I negotiated hard, but maybe they started at an atrocious price based on foreign skin-tax and I was still overpaying at 400 pounds after fighting for that price. A person should not fight over $12, but last night my driver told me that I can rent a regular apartment in Cairo for 700-1000 Egyptian pounds ($38-$55) or a fancy place of luxury for 3000-4000 ($166-$222). So, I had no intention of paying nearly a month of someone’s apartment rent in Cairo for a two hour camel ride touring the pyramids, even if it was the only chance I might ever have… So, I went through heavy haggling and false premises that I would shop around before they would give my the trip for 400 Egyptian pounds.
With that worked out,
♫My guide headed into the desert on a horse with a name.
Behind on a nameless camel I came…
La, la, la la la la, la la la, la laaa….♫
I planned to name my camel for touring the pyramids, but I ended up coming around a giant gate and there were the pyramids! In plain view. The pyramids were just barely out of the city! They were too distracting to remember to name a camel.
It was pretty great to camel-walk touring the pyramids and it was cool to touch the stones when I walked around them with my own feet.
I had my hands on The Great Pyramid of Giza!
Every hustler in Egypt seems to be hanging out in the area and wants to sell you carvings, paintings, or camel ride when you are not on your own. So, you have to be ready to say ‘no’ an awful lot or else you must learn to be unresponsive. I chose the latter after the former began to tire me.
We were inside of temples, tombs, and then visited the Sphinx. It was all incredible. If I could do it again, I would have gone touring the pyramids without a guide so that I could be there my own time-frame rather than the schedule of a guide. But, going guideless would have meant sacrificing a camel-ed pyramid approach. Life always seems to find some kind of balance by giving some and taking some.
I returned ‘Camel’ in town two hours later after touring the pyramids. My driver then took me to Saqqara where the oldest temple in the world is located. I went deep inside a tomb where the ceiling was carved in perfect five point stars. That really got me thinking… We still draw stars the same way today…with five points. Of course there are other shames, but the five-point is standard. That means man has been drawing stars in the same manner for at least 5,000 years. Why five points? I do not really see points when I look at the stars in the sky. I see blotches of light. And if I squint, I can see points, but it is not five of them that I see. Yet, the international symbol through humanity for a star is generally a five pointed light. Interesting.
When it was time for me to start heading towards the airport, I asked for our bill when a guy our age sat down at a table behind us. He told us he is Egyptian and because of Ramadan taking place, it is illegal for him to buy beer. He asked if we would buy beer for him if he paid us. Of course…
We ordered six beer to go for him!
Well, that transaction established a friendship. Our new Egyptian friend, Acro, told us that he had been to several places in the city today trying to get beer but he kept on getting singled out as Egyptian and was constantly rejected. He said he this bar/restaurant was his final try. So, we bought his six big beer, one for Kaleb, and two for me. Arco told me that he had a friend with a car outside and they could could drive me closer to the airport. I asked if he planned to drink the beer right now. He said that was his motive and after I said I decided to go with him, he invited Kaleb to come along as well. Arco took us to meet Zachy who was waiting in an Austin Mini. I hurried to get my backpack from the hostel and then we raced through Cairo in the Mini, drinking beer along the way.
Our new Egyptian friends were really cool guys! I told Arco that I like to collect license plates from cars in foreign countries to give to a friend at home for his hot-rod garage. Zachy said we could easily find one and drove us to a dark parking lot where he and his friend regularly go to smoke pot. I found a license plate on a car that had two screws that were easy to remove and I stuffed the metal Egyptian plate in my backpack. It was super sketchy of me, but my new Egyptian friends really enjoyed what I had just done in front of them! Yes, I am a little bastard sometimes, but it is for the greater good of a friend at home! Arco then walked me to the road and found a taxi for me to take me another 10 minutes to the airport where I checked in and caught my red eye flight to Abu Dhabi.
Egypt, that was a very fast and fascinating 36 hours! Pyramids…touring the pyramids of Egypt! As if I just got to do that! Amazing!
Some final photos: