<% pageTitle="2004 Dahshur Dawdle - Abu Sir Egypt" homeDirectory="/2004dahshurdawdle/" eventSponsor="belesemo" leftBanner="kerrit" rightBanner="ridecamp" %>

Egypt: Becoming Tourists

I slept well again, no dogs, just a few bites on our newly clean sheets. I have to be careful while I'm sleeping that I don't kick tracy in the head thinking it's a dog jumping on my feet.

We intended to leave ~8 AM for the Pyramids, and we did get off about 8:30. Driving along the canal to Giza (which we call MA's canal, though I'm sure we couldn't tell it from another), MA answered all the questions we had while zooming past kids and donkeys and trucks with inches to spare and talking on her cell phone. She's so knowledgeable about everything here and we are so lucky to be staying with her.

Occasionally these filthy canals are dredged, and the gunk is piled alongside. What do they do with the gunk? The dirt is taken and used in the fields. Plastic trash is recycled (I bet some of it is keeping us awake at nite!). I'm not sure what this has to do with dredged canals, but the plastic slip-on shoes are called "ship ship" because of the noise they make when people don't pick their feet up when they walk - Riche are you reading this. The shoes are worn by peasants.

I asked why all the different religions are so tolerated here as opposed to other middle eastern countries - who knows? People here just don't care what religion you are. You are also not allowed to proselytize (in Islam or christianity or ??).

I noticed there seems to be (in this area at least) a lack of animosity towards the rich, Egyptians or ex-pats, and I thought it was partially because, as in India, people just seem to accept their lot in life. That's just the way things are.

MA said it's also your own attitude. If you are open & friendly, not afraid and don't build walls around you, then people are friendly and open with you. People here are worried about the evil eye. Hmmm - maybe a useful thing to remember. >:)

Giza was quite smoggy/dusty and crowded with apartment highrises one on top of the other - and suddenly in the midst arises the 3 Great Pyramids of Giza. It seemed so normal. We drove up to the entrance, where MA got out and got us all tickets (20 pounds each) then drove us in - oh my. There are 2 huge ones, 1 slightly smaller 1, 3 small ones

(Queen's Pyramids, the tombs of Khufu's wives and sisters), the sphinx down below, other tomb entrances, holes, passages, etc, all built between ~2500 - 2100 BC or so. Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops) - son of Sneferu who built the Bent & Red Pyramids at Dashur out our direction - built the biggest one in Egypt, completed ~2570 BC. It was 481 ft high when finished (it's now ~30 ft shorter), & ~2.5 million limestone blocks, weighing ~2.5 tons each were used in construction!

Looking at these you just can't fathom the construction at all. How on earth!? Why?

Khufu's son Khafre (Chephren) built the Pyramid of Khafre 448 ft high and it still has its limestone casing on top. Over the centuries these outer blocks have been stripped away and used to build palaces and mosques, exposing the Pyramids' softer inner-core stones to the elements. Especially on the 3rd and smaller Pyramid, Menkaure, you see about 4 lower layers of nicely preserved blocks that are so nicely preserved because they were buried under sand a longer time. There's also blocks surrounding the Pyramids that have fallen down over time and litter the ground around them.

So, we drive to near Khafre and Tracy says, "Merri, we're in Egypt!" (We've been saying this since we arrived). We got out, walked up to this Pyramid, and I said, "Oh my god, we're in Egypt!@!@! Who woulda thunk this? "

Again - how-why-who-what were they thinking- and how much do you not see? How many more ruins and temples and tombs are still laying out here buried in the desert? We walked up to the Pyramid - you can TOUCH them. I TOUCHED a Pyramid. I even sat on one, though signs say No Climbing.

There's policemen on camels, some with rifles, though MA said "But you never know if they have bullets." The camel touts were not nearly as bad as I was prepared for, i.e. they didn't follow you around for 20 minutes as you said no for 20 minutes, while you picked up another tout each of those minutes and then had 20 of them exponentially following you. And it was really nice to have a native Arabic speaker to stop someone with designs on tourists in their tracks. It was like we were walking with an invisible shield around us - what a treat!

Steph was easily talked into a camel ride - and Destry went with her. MA, J, T & I wandered around; J & T went inside the Menkaure Pyramid. We spent about an hour wandering around (alot more people starting to arrive now) then went back to the car; S & D hadn't shown up so MA drove off to look for them.

In about 10 minutes she's on her way back - with a camel driver in the car and a stern look on her face. He said he knew where they were. We got in and he directed us downhill, past the Sphinx - which I didn't even know till there it was there, and which was pretty small and which was probably carved during Khafre's reign and is carved from the natural bedrock at the bottom of the hill from the Khafre Pyramid.

We went out the main entrance, into Cairo, further into Cairo, and MA was getting a little irate that Steph & Destry had been camelknapped. Finally we got to the camel office, where S & D had been taken - conveniently - to visit a papyrus store and essence store. But they had a great time, so all was well.

We then went to a real grocery store where I went wild on mango juice (but it's only 35% juice) and cookies and halawa!!! A whole little tub of it! I have a feeling I'm going to be stocking up on this to take home.

We then raced home, and MA realized her important meeting to try to dump one of her businesses was at 12:30, not 2:30, so she raced us to her old house in Maadi - a great old 3-story British mansion - and 'old' as in, she's been out of the house for 5 days now.

Here Nabeel, and I-cannot-remember-his-name, became our guides and drivers for the day. Tracy & I were starving so they drove us to a local corner place that served kushari, a mix of noodles and rice and lentils and chickpeas and stuff with a tomato sauce on it - and a nose tissue each for napkins - yum! Then Steph wanted a coffee, so the 7 of us piled in the car, pulled out on the road, turned around & drove a half a block, got out & went into an ahwa for coffee... which was strong and thick enough to chew! yikes!

They then drove us to a block that had 3 shops to go in, and we must've spent almost 2 hours there. Got all our Xmas shopping done! The man whose shop we all spent the most time in gave us his "best price", but was not interested in bargaining (which was a relief cuz I HATE bargaining). His prices did change a bit - on me they went UP as we added them on his calculator. Oh well! I ran out of $ here and am now in need of an ATM. (2 I found were broken).

It was late enough we decided to skip a felucca ride today on the Nile - we missed the sunset cuz we shopped too long :) - but Destry directed us to Drinkies, a place we could buy beer & wine (hmm, wonder how he knew this?). We stocked up, and the guys drove us home - losing their way once we took the one exit - but between the rest of us we remembered the way home.

You get to where you recognize this hut, or that local 'gas station' where they use jerrycans to fill you up, or that little fruit stand. The guides had told us $20 US plus food - and somehow the less-than-a-dollar-apiece lunch and same-for-the-coffee came out to an extra $15, but that's just the way things are. It was great having people drive us around places and not having to take taxis or busses or figure out where to go or get hassled or HelloMadameComeIntoMyShopJustLookIGiveYouBestPriceHelloMadameHowAreYouCo meInside.