Sunday, September 6, 2009

A few of us heard about a "Bedouin night" out in the desert last Thursday, so we hopped a bus and took the ride. Through the window you could see the soft shadows of the Giza pyramids on the horizon and I had to stare at them for a bit longer to make sure they were real. We got out, only to arrive in front of a rave dance party scene and glance around in confusion. Apparently what we thought was going to be a majestic evening in the middle of the desert in the eye of the pyramids where Bedouin people invited us to come sit and share their humble but delicious feast while they sang and danced, was actually just a hot spot for Arab dudes to bring their lady friends to dance horribly on a front stage and cuddle up in dim corners on the rugs and cushions on the sandy platform. I don't know why we even expected anything different. But it certainly was a painful reminder of how modernized even a place like the pyramids is. 

The one memorable occasion, besides the pompous guy who thought his robot moves were the greatest thing since sliced bread, was the horseback ride through a desert path. Sure it was contrived, and I was skeptical from the beginning, but once my horse and I got out by ourselves I felt a little less judgmental about it all. There are still things to enjoy amidst the glaring Westernized establishments. Like the fact that the mere moon itself lit up the entire desert ahead of us and revealed the pyramids that seemed close enough to just walk over and touch, bathing the sand in blues and purples. 

Friday was hot even at ten in the morning. It seemed like the afternoon was going to be miserable, but I endeavored against it, because nothing was going to ruin the excitement of seeing the pyramids in Giza. It bothers me that I can't come up with enough words to correctly describe just how magical they are in person, but I'll try. You have to drive up a steep way in order to get to the entrance, and you're so busy staring at the giant monuments in front of you that you almost forget to look behind you at the completely panoramic view of the city. The minarets from the nearby mosque echoed with the call to prayer as we entered - a dramatic difference between what faith in Ancient Egypt was then and what it is now. We roamed around the 2nd pyramid, the one that still had part of its limestone casing at the top (the pyramids were encased with pink granite, limestone, and grey granite - respectively - back in the day) and I really loved the view of the birds that would swoop around the top and perch on some of the ancient stones before taking flight again against the desert winds. There were of course many peddlers trying to sell people camel rides or stupid little trinkets but it was easy to ignore them as we were all too busy imagining what the pyramids must have looked like in their prime, the sunrise glinting off from the top and making them all look like gold. Cameras weren't allowed inside the actual pyramid - which was narrow in every direction and from a moment's glance looked like one wrong step would kill you for sure - but I didn't listen and sweet-talked my way into getting the watchman to let me take a picture standing inside the actual stone tomb that held the sarcophagus of a dead Pharaoh. I'm the kind of person that would love to be in The Mummy. Alas, me disturbing the final resting place of Khafra didn't seem to do much of anything, but it was still pretty cool. The final visiting place was of the Sphinx, and though there was a hotel and a KFC/Pizza Hut right across from it, it was still very ethereal. It all just makes me wish that I could somehow go back in time just to watch everything happen - not to change anything, just to watch. There must be so much that we don't know and so much that we think we know but have gotten completely wrong. Lost knowledge makes me very sad. 


  1. Aww, I remember that KFC/Pizza Hut.

  2. I can't even describe how much I wiah I could have been a fly on your shoulder during this experience. Reading you description, however, is a close second. I felt like I was there. Amazing! Did I ever tell you I wanted to be an egyptologist? I don't know if I did, but everything you described just sounds magical to me, part of a world I wish we could know more about. I would come back with you and just watch as well.

  3. So when you looked at us funny while we talked about this magical place after our visit last December, now you know how we had felt. I am so glad you got to see this wonderful place.