We met our wonderful driver, Monsour at 9am sharp to go to the pyramids. The pyramids sit right on one border of Cairo with shops and houses going almost right up to the border of the pyramid complex. Beyond this is a large swath of desert.
It costs 80 pounds to get into the pyramid complex and you are assigned a guide once you get inside the door. I’m not sure how the process normally works, but we were under the impression we could walk around the pyramids and the sphinx up close. Our guide disagreed, saying no one was allowed to walk we had to ride horse or camels in order to go out and take pictures. We argued the point for 10 minutes, but we were on a timeline to get back to the hotel for Amanda’s departure so finally agreed.
I’m still upset about how it was all handled. Although the Egyptian people and vendors have been very kind over all there are some that are extremely pushy to the point of being beligierent. This was one such case. And even if you explain you don’t have the money they won’t listen. They say you can pay on pounds or cash or they will take you to the atm. Staff also demand tips directly many times. They view us as endless sources of money, but I understand compared to their wages and their lives it might seem like we must be the wealthiest people in the world to come here to Egypt. The truth is I worked two jobs to get here and will still need to do so when I return to pay for this visit. My financial resources and physical energy are drained. I’m a little tired of being told “Just listen. Do you understand? Money is not a problem it’s only 100 pounds more.” Repeatedly, snapped at like a child and so on.
I begrudgingly climbed the house and headed out into the Giza Pyramid complex. Then pyramids are truly behemoths of the desert sands. So often when I visit monuments they are never as grand in person as I assumed they would be. This is not the case with the pyramids. They are beautiful and everything I’d hoped to see. Our tiny caravan of horses trotted along the desert sand over rocks and through smaller unnamed monuments with their hieroglyphs still intact. Lesser tombs, I had to assume.
We rode up on to a sandy platform and took the silly tourist pictures that made us look like we were leaning on the great pyramid. I wrapped my head with my white scarf to prevent the flies and desert sun from bothering me.
The sphinx, although much smaller in scale is also magnificent to behold. It’s funny because in documentaries you always see the pyramids nearly untouched by civilization, but the sphinx has many offices and buildings going right up to its feet. It also appears to be suffering from even more wear these days. Especially the long feline body behind the head. I heard preservation efforts are underway and I hope they are able to save it in time.
Our horses carried us all the way back to our car where we dismounted. As we walked to the car I looked back once more at the great pyramids and my eyes brimmed with tears. I told Melissa, I just never though I’d see them in my lifetime. It was truly a magical moment for me, even with the guide, horses, the flies, and the blazing sun. I couldn’t have been happier in this moment.
Monsour took us by a gift shop on the way back to the hotel to collect our final souvenirs. He also invited us out for coffee, which we were sad to decline, with our checkout deadline looming close. We promised in our future trip to a egypt we’d love to take him to coffee and we’ve all traded whatsapp numbers to make sure this happens.
We made it back in time for a quick shower and change of clothes before Amanda checked out. Melissa and I also had to leave the room even though our flight shuttle wouldn’t leave for another 12 hours. As I write this I’m sitting in the lobby on our 8th hour. We lost wifi immediately at checkout and had the option to continue to pay by the hour “it’s no problem. We have an atm”. WiFi – less we’ve alternated taking naps on the lobby couches, until we were finally convinced nothing would suit us more than a beer.
We checked our luggage with the concierge and ordered two sakara beers (made in egypt) and a large pizza with no anchovies. I was also happy to be the first person to pull the packaging off the hot sauce brought to our table. A feast indeed.
After dinner we took a long walk through the hotel compound circling the pools and feeling the evening breeze. There are hundreds of rooms here, and also apartments for live-in staff. Now, with nothing more to do Melissa is taking another short nap while I write draft blogs on my phone and save them to the memory.
We are looking forward to a safe midnight trip across cairo to the airport and then a 4 hour flight to Amsterdam where we hope to have some really good coffee. Really, really good coffee. And maybe find some cute European shoes?Then on to Montréal!