We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

Very big. Very old.

Finally, the long-promised Pyramids post. We had quite the experience on Saturday.

First off, our trusted taxi driver brought us not to the gate of the Pyramids, but to his old friend the perfumer. Only he didn’t tell us in advance. The perfumer said they’d arrange a camel tour around the Pyramids, but kept offering us free stuff (drinks, trinkets for the kids) that seemed like it shouldn’t be free. And since when do perfumers arrange camel tours? It was like a common scam in Addis Ababa. Then they wanted to share with us the mysteries and art of Egyptian perfumery. I was waiting for the belly dancers to come out.

But they didn’t… instead, in came an actual guide, who got some camels for us. Why camels? Given the choice between horses, a carriage pulled by a horse, and camels, Giggle, who had the strongest feelings about the matter, chose the dromedaries.

camel, horse, and young guide

Our guide rode horseback, and the camels were led by a young boy. Giggle was very excited, but Bug screamed until we forced him on the camel with Mr. Four, at which point he was fine. (I had flashbacks to all the terrible things my parents made me do when I was a kid… like go whitewater rafting and another time on a sailboat–oh, the horror!) No wonder he was scared: those camels were big!

So we set off, through town, then down an alley where people were riding horses, blasting Egyptian pop music, and spraying canned snow. That’s right, on our journey to see the only remaining wonder of the world, we encountered partiers with fake snow. Our guide told us it’s like that there everyday, probably because tourists (i.e. us) part with cash like it’s sand in the desert (though I can’t totally complain as my employer forked over several thousand dollars to fly us all over to Egypt in the first place).

We finally entered the Pyramids compound through what was clearly a non-official entrance. I watched our guide pass baksheesh (tips) into the hands of many a gate watcher and tourism police officer. We rode up the sand hills (the guide quipped, “You can get to the whole Sahara from here”), our trusty young guide leading the way.

boy leading camels

We stopped for photos, and were soon approached by traditionally dressed men offering us cold orange soda, pyramid trinkets, and even batteries for our camera (one strategy: they’d give the item to the kids before we’d even notice, and we had to insist hard so they’d take whatever it was back). By the way, it was only at this point that I realized we weren’t actually being scammed by our guide and the perfumer.

camels and young guide resting

Then we went to the Pyramid of Khafre, not the biggest one, but the one with some remaining limestone at the top. Originally the Pyramids were all plastered with shiny limestone, which was later reappropriated to mosques and palaces.

pyramid of khafre

pyramid of khafre

I’m not writer enough to do justice to the pyramids, which have, thankfully, been written about by keen observers elsewhere. I was most taken by the size of the blocks at the bottom. More like boulders, really, but shaped into squares.

looking into giza from the pyramid of khafre

And it was very tall.

mr. four and bug at the base of the pyramid of khafre

At this point, the boys were done. Especially when we rode down an incline on the camels. Giggle started asking to ride a horse instead. Our legs were getting tired. So we bypassed the Sphinx (much smaller in real person) and only saw it from afar.

We rode back into town (after the guide bribed the guards to let us back out), and as soon as we were off the camels and on the ground, the boys started asking for another camel ride. Now both want to see the Pyramid pictures every day.

For a slew of photos, check out my Flickr pages.

By the way, the title of this blog is ripped straight from the pages of Lonely Planet, who quoted a local guide’s description of the Pyramids.


21 August 2007 - Posted by | our life in egypt, tourism

1 Comment

  1. […] that also holds the hypermarket (and that’s indeed where he took me, not to his friend the perfumer). I wanted to get some kitchen stuff plus a lunch box for Bug and it’s been quite a challenge […]

    Pingback by A trip to the hypermarket « We Four in Egypt | 24 August 2007

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