Giza, Giza, Giza. Where do I even begin? Ok, ever since I was a little girl, reading my Eyewitness picture books about ancient Egypt, it has been my dream to visit the great Giza pyramids. In my head I always imagined riding around on a majestic camel, wearing all-white linen, with the ancient arabian desert winds blowing through my hair and (a young) Peter O’Toole, Brendan Fraser, or Harrison Ford cantering along dreamily beside me. Let’s just say that the reality was a little less glamorous.
To put it mildly, Giza is a dump. It’s actually a suburb of Cairo, with the fenced-off and heavily armed pyramid complex. It’s dirty, stinky, and filled with people who will hustle you blind. We paid a taxi driver from Cairo to drive us around all day to the different sites. Once we got to Giza we had to find someone to rent camels from. We are complete idiots and forgot to ask how much it should cost to do a camel ride around the pyramids, which is a must in Egypt’s bartering culture. I am confident we overpaid enough to feed the camels, their owners, their owner’s families, and their friends and their camels for a month. But let’s not talk about that. The weather was beautiful, bright and sunny with a nice breeze going on, blowing through my long blonde hair. Too bad I didn’t factor the sand part in my fantasy. Oops.
Getting on and off the camels is really tricky, but once we were up there, we were good to go. After paying to enter the sight and passing through security, which consisted of a lot of men in robes and turbans with automatic weapons (shudder) we headed off towards the pyramids. The first thing we passed as we entered the complex? A dead horse. Yup, that’s right, a dead horse, just hanging out in the sand on the side of the path.
This is what I mean when I say that Egypt could definitely work on it’s tourism. Picking up trash and dead work animals around your nation’s top tourist attractions might actually help you out in the long run. Just saying.
After that scarring image, we spent a good four hours cameling about the pyramids, hopping (or in my case, falling) on and off the camels. My poor thighs were so sore the next day! This girl was not meant to ride anything but bikes and horses! We climbed up a bit on one of the pyramids, and took a million ridiculous photos. Our camel guide loved my camera. He kept taking it from me and taking photos of me and M, among other things too. He was pretty chatty and told us lots of interesting things, though he swindled us out of a lot of money to show us where the entrances were to some of the smaller tombs. At least he bribed the guards so we could take photos, or I mean, so he could take photos of us inside. Creepy.
By the time we got to the Sphinx, we had gotten on and off the camels so many times I thought my legs might be bleeding. I was sure I would tumble head first into the sand if we stopped again. Also all the peddlers and people selling stuff lurk around the Sphinx, and at least when I was on the camel, I was up high enough they couldn’t reach me. Win!
We saw our first hieroglyphics that day, slid down a lot of narrow, long ramps into the tombs, learned how to tie turbans, reenacted scenes from Indiana Jones and the Mummy, and burnt the s*** our of our scalps. Lessons learned that day: wear hats in Egypt and barter better! And oh yeah, dreams do come true!
Have you ever been to Giza? Ever ridden a camel before? Have you ever envisioned a place and then finally visited in person? Did your image match up to the reality?
Please notice where he is staring. This pretty much sums up our interactions with men in Egypt.