08 December 2011

Cairo, Unexpectedly: The Pyramids

And now, we move on to my travels through Egypt and Israel. This was a trip that I definitely was not planning on but it ended up working out perfectly. Originally my stepdad, Rick was going to go on this adventure by himself (and with our church and pastor), but once Christy and I got wind of it - we just couldn't pass up this opportunity. 2010 was the perfect time to go and sometimes spontaneous choices end up being the best choices!

So in February of 2010, Rick, Christy and I found ourselves in the Middle East - in Africa! (it feels weird to say that.) I have to say, Cairo was a HUGE culture shock for us (having only ever been to Mexico and Europe). We arrived late at night, yet the traffic was like rush hour in Los Angeles - it was crazy! It's not unheard of to see people, people on donkeys, horses, etc crossing a busy street - traffic laws are pretty much ignored - and the hotels we stayed in had a security check at the entrance. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before, but I guess that's what makes it an adventure!

Our first day in Cairo, we made our way to the most famous site in all of Egypt - the pyramids! It was so surreal to find myself here - I was pretty much speechless. I remember when Christy and I were researching our European Cavalcade tour in 2008, we kept coming across photos and tours of Egypt and we would mention how much we would love to go, but we knew we'd probably never make it there. And, lo and behold, less than 2 years later, we were in Egypt. I seriously felt like I was in an alternate universe. How can you ever wrap your head around the fact that you're standing in front of one of the greatest wonders of the world? How can that ever sink in? I don't think it ever does...you just come to accept it as fact as time goes on.

Because I always used to wonder about this: upon entering the Pyramids site,
this is what you see when looking towards the pyramids,

and this is what you see when you turn around (with your back to the pyramids.)
That's how close to the city you are. Practically still in the city.

Rick and I. You just HAVE to walk like an Egyptian in Egypt.

             Christy, in front of the Second Pyramid       And, of course, the Sphinx and the Second Pyramid

I remember our day spent at the pyramids so vividly. We had a wonderful guide, Emi who taught us all the history we would need to know, facts about Egyptians in general, and also warned us about the sheer number of people who would be trying to sell us stuff at the pyramids. And, boy was she right. I mean, I kind of feel bad - I know these people are struggling, but it can really kill the spirit of wonder and awe of one of the most famous places on the planet when you have people trying to charge you a dollar for practically just breathing their air. (Only a slight exaggeration). Nevertheless, to find yourself in Egypt is to walk back in time. It's almost incomprehensible to think of all that has taken place here and the stories this place holds. I mean, while in Europe, we found ourselves in places that were centuries old, now we found ourselves in a place that was thousands of years old. It truly was amazing.

Rick and a potential band photo?

I remember the heat being sweltering in Cairo...it must've been at least 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit (in February!), but it felt much cooler once we got the opportunity to go inside the Second Pyramid. This was quite an adventure in and of itself. You have to crouch down, (and for someone 5'1, that's really saying something!) and with your back bent, walk downhill quite a ways (with two way traffic in a tight space). And then you have short-lived relief with flat ground and higher ceilings before having to crouch down again - only uphill this time, before finding yourself in a huge chamber where the king's tomb was kept. I really loved this - it was a lot of fun and fascinating at the same time. And after heading back the way we had just came, our legs started to feel a bit like jelly. We were all definitely a bit sore the next few days. Great leg workout!

Christy and I inside the Second Pyramid

One of the merchants. The ones who actually had set-ups and displays were quite nice

Rick and I cooling off on a temple near the Sphinx

Christy getting a closer look

Below is the first part of a video that Evan (a fellow tour/church member) shot, documenting our Egypt/Israel tour of 2010. (The other parts will follow when I get to the corresponding locations.) This is such a great video and really puts me back to what it felt like to be there:

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