Thursday, March 27, 2008

March 26 The Pyramids or Tales from the Crypt

This day may have been one of the most exciting and interesting days on our trip. One thing we did right was to arrange for a guide from our hotel. We really got the hook-up. Our "guide" was a retired archeologist who had actually done some of the research at one of the sights we visited. Her name is Salwa and she made for a great traveling companion the whole day. There were great discussions not only of events 4500 years ago but modern day events from the Arab perspective which was something I wanted to hear. She took us to 3 sights, Memphis, Sakkura and the Great Pyramids. More importantly, she took us to a great place for lunch but more about that later. Memphis was interesting because we saw the large statue of Ramses The Great while Salwa filled us in on interesting stories about Ramses family.

Along the road, Patrice took a lot of pictures of typical Egyptian farm life. The overwhelming part of the population are still farmers. She thought this guy looked particularly colorful.

Our next stop was Sakkura. It is the home of the oldest pyramids in Egypt. The best pictures here are actually short movie clips taken inside the tomb. We were surprised to learn that all the tombs, except Cheops, are actually below the pyramids. In Sakkura, you can actually go down, down inside the crypt. I really felt like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Tomb. The entrance was 3 feet wide and 4 feet high. It went down at a 45 degree slant so the floor actually had rungs that served as a sort of ladder. When inside theres a little guard in there that puts his fingers to his lips and then motions to give him your camera. He was really chapped when he found out all I had on me was 2 Egyptian pounds.
The other cool thing at Sakkura was seeing all the hieroglyphics that depicted everyday life. I was shocked that you can actually touch writing that is over 4000 years old. Of course it really helped to have Salwa along to point it out, but the meaning of the writing became very clear.

At the end of the day we visited the Great Pyramids. One of the things I didn't realize was how big the individual stones were that made these pyramids. When you look from a distance they all blend together. Each stone came up to my waist. You can go inside Cheops too, but its an extra $20 and I have had enough crypt crawling at this point. Finally, Salwa took us to this vantage point to get pictures. You really get a feeling of being in the desert when you are at this site. Unlike our deserts it is a very fine sand and it gets in everything.

But... what might be the high point of the day was actually lunch. Between Sakkura and Cheops, she took us to a garden restaurant that had a tame lion cub. There is nothing like holding a lion in your hands. This little kitty was heavy too. Thankfully, he is only 3 months old. his owner told us that by the time he is a year old, he will have to go to the zoo. I held him and petted him but never let myself forget that this is a lion. As you can see, Patrice was a little less apprehensive.

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