We decided to head out to the pyramids early Monday morning, just a twenty minute taxi ride from our place. Ali had the day off and mornings are best for Sebastian. It’s also smart to avoid the Cairo heat. Although I’ve seen them three times before — twice from a distance, and once as the sun was setting while on horseback — I’ve never explored the pyramids and surrounding area up close in daylight. Ali had gone with a couple of his friends last summer while Sebastian and I were in Michigan.
It’s amazing to see something I read about in books as a child. When I was in middle school I made a pyramid out of sugar cubes for a school project. I remember dusting sand over the glue I had drizzled over the neatly stacked cubes to get the desert-like effect. I was fascinated with a time and a place I never imagined I would be living close enough to experience.
Men and boys ride on camels and horses near the pyramids, trying to entice you for a ride off into the desert to catch a glimpse of the pyramids beyond the sand, or even down to the sphinx. We were happy to walk about on our own, getting up close and personal.
Ali convinced me to explore the inside of the Second Pyramid, the tickets sold out for the Great Pyramid (another reason to get there as close to 8am as possible). I wasn’t so sure about an inside exploration as I hadn’t fared well at all in the Cu chi Tunnels in Vietnam. But I did it and today my body is sore for it. Upon entry there is a steep ramp down and there is no standing. Imagine walking bent halfway forward, down hill. In the middle there is a tunnel which allowed me to stand and walk for about ten feet. Next, there is a steep ramp up, bending over while walking again and then veering left to enter a great room that was first excavated in 1818, at least that was the marker painted on the wall. There is an empty tomb open and I looked around at the bare walls imagining the golds and riches that might have been buried with this important person. And then I got out as fast as I could. The smell was musty and the air was damp and I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I had gone in on my own, passing the tourists coming out. On my way back up those tourists were still climbing out the top. I just wanted to fly by them and get back out into the open air. So much for great explorations. I was happy to see Ali and Sebastian waiting for me near the entrance.
I did enjoy exploring the ancient village ruins between the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx. What remained were deep, well-like square holes and part of an area being rebuilt. Windows, thin alley ways, door frames. I could imagine the people who had built the pyramids going about their regular business in the village created just for the purpose of being close to work. Perhaps I imagine it wrong, but above ground explorations of old cities are something that sparks my imagination.
We watched horses gallop into the desert and camels slowly make their way past us, with uneasy tourists on top. Camels can be very moody. We sat awhile and stared out at the juxtaposing view, the desert on one side and Cairo’s sprawl next to it.
For the rest of the photos of The Sharps at the Great Pyramids of Giza, check out the flickr guest pass.