When I was a little boy I remembered my mother had a black and white photograph of my uncle sitting on a camel in front of the Sphinx. I was always fascinated by that photo and yearned for the day that I would be able to see that place in the photograph. I remember reading our encyclopedias about Ancient Egypt for hours on end and have always had an interest in these ancient sites.
Well, today my dream came true. At first, when we arrived at the Giza Plateau, I could barely see anything as the morning fog was particularly heavy. I could make out a faint outline of an enormous triangle in the mist which gave the area a sense of mystery. As the fog disappeared and the sun's rays started to cut through the fog, it was quite an overwhelming sensation as the Great Pyramid began to emerge. It is quite startling just how large it really is and I could never truly give it a just description. What amazes me the most is the fact that it is composed of so many slabs of limestone and that it has perfect mathematical dimensions. As we wondered about the site, I saw the second pyramid and was able to go inside and have some semblance of the interior. Nothing was really seen, no hieroglyphics, treasures, hints of the past...but it was amazingly claustrophobic and gave me a sense of how deep and steep everything must have been before tomb robbers and archaeologists made their discoveries. The third pyramid...very deceptive as it is smaller in dimensions gives a semblance of being vast in size by the mere positioning of it within the trio.
I kept staring in amazement at each pyramid and could not fathom that this was something I had read about, studied, taught and dreamed about for so many years. Despite the constant harassment of touts, and ever-increasing numbers of tour buses, I was overwhelmed and quite taken by these magical structures in the desert. We even rode camels at one point to an observation point...the camel riders dressed in traditional Arabic garb (but I did spy one of them talking on his cell phone!). Naturally, I had the stubborn camel who decided to hiss and walk apart from the group. A bit frightening at first, but what was more frightening was watching how one disgruntled camel ejected his rider from another tour group. The man went flying into the sand and the camel owner was quite ruthless in punishing the poor creature, whipping it on the body and the face. It was quite horrific to watch and yet somehow, I knew I had no right to judge as I was participating in the spectacle myself by riding to the plateau.
Our final site was the Sphinx, surprisingly small but perhaps my childhood memory of it made it larger than life. I was quite transfixed by it and despite being bumped and jostled by tourists who insisted on taking photographs in foolish positions in front of it (the idea being that they were somehow "holding" it), I stared on and on trying to memorize what was in front of me.
When we left the Giza Plateau, we headed for falafels and then stopped off at a gas station to make a washroom stop...when I turned around after paying for my drink, I saw the Three Pyramids in the background and marvelled at the infusion of the ancient with the modern world. One dream come true, with more to follow...
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