So I've been here in Egypt a couple days now. Jetleg has worn off, I'm quickly getting used to the heat (it's 38 degrees here today...and it's going to get warmer over the next few days,) and I'm "finding" my way around town (there has been a lot of trail and error. The streets run in every direction in no particular order.)
I decided when I got here that I would do all the touristy stuff before I dug into my work here at Maadi church, so today was the day I ventured out to the pyramids.
The tour guide picked me up outside my apartment at 8 this morning. He was recommended by a women in the church here and he turned out to be a very nice man. His name was Ramone, and it turned out he had been working as a guide for 7 years. He knew his stuff.
After about a 45 minute drive, the tops of the pyramids became to show themselves above the skyline on Cairo.
It wasn't long before we hit the outskits of citylimits and were in the desert, the only thing standing between me and miles of sand and khamseens (sandstorms) were three rather large pyramids and a cat-like man.
Ramone told me all about the history of the pyramids, then before letting me go and take pictures he warned me about the local "business men" that preyed on tourists.
Almost as soon as he turned back to the car a several men came up to me, "Shokran," I said many times (meaning thank you but no thank you) and they slowly realized that I wasn;t wanting any of their trinkets.
I took out my camera and took a few photos, then another man came up to me with a smile, I knew he wanted my money.
"You should be in photo," he said, "I take your picture, you be with pyramid."
I chuckled and responded, "Ah, but you want money for it."
"No no no, I just take your picture," he said and reached for my camera.
I withdrew for a second. He was an older man, it's not like he could take it and run from me, besides military and "tourist police" were standing guard almost everywhere.
"Alright," I said handing him the camera, "but I have no money for you."
"No no money," he said and began to size up the shot. He knelt down and got up almost immedately, "You too close, not see pyramid. Come over to side, you get whole pyramid in picture." He began to walk away, my camera in hand.
I liked the idea of being in a picture with the pyramids, however I knew this man had something up his sleeve.
As we walked, another man came up to me, "Ah sir, you get picture taken?" It was his back up. "You with group?"
"Yes," I lied, "I should stay close stay close."
"Ah yes, you just be over here," he insisted. The other man still had my camera and he charged ahead.
We reached the edge of the pyramid and there were a couple camels standing there. Once again, I knew where this was going.
The man with my camera kept walking past the pyramid, right up to the camel riders, "Ah yes, you get picture here." The other man slapped a flase head garb on me. The man knelt down once again stood up, "You need camel, camel and pyramid for picture."
"No no no," I insisted but the camel was brought over and knelt down.
"Cheese!" the man said and the flash went off... 4 times!
"Now, you give me gift!" Stated the man with the camel, at which I refused. "I give you gift you give me gift!"
"If you give me that camel I will give you a big hug and that will be my gift to you," my humour was lost on him.
"You give me gift, English money."
To be quite honest, I was rather sick of the two men and reached into my wallet to see what I had. It was either a toonie and a 5 or British pounds...I opted for the Canadian. It which they looked at me disgustedly, yet reluctantly relinquished my camera.
I was out of there, the story and the photo only cost me $7CAN...It was almost a steal, plus I kept the head garb which they seemingly forgot about.
I snapped a couple more shots and headed back towards the car.
We drove to the next, slightly smaller pyramid, which I decided to venture inside for the mear price of 50 Egyptian Pounds (about $10 CAN).
It's a rather colstrophobic decent into the middle of the pyramid, at which I was crouching all the way down 35m into the based, which opened out into a cavernous room where the king (read mummy) was kept.
It was amazing, the sheer idea of the calculations, brute force and over all skill it took to build such an amazing stucture. Each stone is exactly the same size, tightly packed together. Thousands of years ago....Blows your mind.
As I snuck out of the pyramid into fresh air, (the air in the pyramid is hot and dry to preserve the mummy,) I reached the surface to find Ramone waiting eagerly with a camel and rider.
I hopped on for 40 pounds and rode a camel for about 15mins. It's a crazy little experiance, do it if you get a chance.
The sphinx was the next stop on our little tour, and again I could go on for awhile, but I'll spare you the details and show you the pictures instead,
So what else is there to see in Egypt you ask, how about the way ancient Egyptians made paper?
Papyrus paper is strong, woven and interlaid. It can be used as paper but is more often used as canvus. It's quite facinating. I bought a couple beautiful pieces.
And then the final sight, The Egyptian National Musuem, no cameras inside sorry, but there are some amazing sights. The Royal Mummies have two rooms. It's crazy to stare at their faces and think they were once living, breathing people who had talked, had thoughts, and in most cases ruled over Egypt.
Caught a train home, walked the half an hour walk home and then off to the church for an African service. The refugees in the area have bible study every Tuesday and Wednesday and start the study with an hour of pure cardio wroship, it amazing.
Finally, after all that, we had youth here tonight which I helped set up for. Quite an awesome youth group, not as good as home, but very good.
Now it's time for bed, off to the schools tomorrow to help out there for wee bit.
Thanks everyone and we'll talk to you soon.
Grace, Peace and Blessings,