Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pyramid Fields

Out of the taxi window, we get our first glimpse of the Giza Pyramids. We have only been in Cairo a few hours and are determined to get on a camel asap. All our romantic notions of camels, sand dunes and pyramids quickly collide and crumble into modern Giza. Our camels look abused. Instead of sand dunes we are on city streets. And very far from the pyramids.

This camel ride begins a pattern in Egypt. Doing something you think will be amazing, then it turns out to be bootleg, and just as you're about to lose hope, mystic ancient Egypt appears and takes your breath away. Because after riding through the neighborhood with no pyramids in sight, we ride past a graveyard and into the desert, not very far into the desert but still. Just a few sand dunes away are the three pyramids. Aside from the large chain-link fence with security cameras patrolling the perimeter, the view is time travel back four thousand years. It's hard to add any insight to pyramids that were considered ancient by the ancient Greeks. They are timeless, looking thousands of years old and space-age all at once. Or like a constellation, appearing, from a far sand dune, as stars in space. Watching one sunset of the million the pyramids have seen and the millions more they will see, is the perfect end to the first day of our Egyptian adventure.

Early the following morning, we're alone at the Dahshur pyramid field. Our first up close encounter is with the Red Pyramid. We walk around in awe, then climb up the walls to crawl down into the tomb. Tight squeeze is an understatement. Doubled over, we waddle down the narrow passage until it opens into a large chamber. It smells bad and is burning hot. Soon we are crawling back out. Behind the Red Pyramid is the Bent Pyramid. During construction they had to change the angle half way up to avoid collapse. It's not structurally sound to this day and is off limits to tourists.

Our next stop is the Saqqara Pyramid, the first pyramid and first stone structure ever built. The work of the great architect Imhotep, it is a step pyramid making it unique from the more famous complete pyramids.

To end the day we head to the Giza Pyramids. After having Dahshur and Saqqara basically to ourselves, the number of people at Giza is overwhelming and a little demystifying. Large even on a modern scale, every apsect about the pyramids is difficult to comprehend. Down the hill sits the Sphinx. No riddles were asked. The only question was how do I get away from all these people? But the throngs of tourists are appropriate. It's been a wonder for nearly five thousand years.


Ted said...

Fantastic description of your experiece!

foster said...

Wow! The photo of Clay walking away really helped me (almost) feel the scale for the first time! And I like the edge against the sky one, too. Magnificent!

Addie said...

HOLY TACO!!! That is INSANE!! I can't believe yall were really there. They are huge!!!

biddy said...

Wow!, I can practically touch the stones-gOOD Pics