Thursday April 22, 2010 aboard the MS Miriam. OH MY GOD! What a boat, what a view and what a meal, but I am jumping ahead.
As you may recall I pooped out last night at 11:00 PM while writing this blog so I only got so far on Wednesdays activities. So allow me to continue
We are still at the Giza Plateau and the sites are beautiful and a great statement of man’s achievement marred only by the presence of hawkers. And aggressive hawkers at that. Let me explain (or rather complain). Soon as you make eye contact you are a target. They walk up to you ask where are you from and somehow they have been there. Then, they hand you something and say it is a present, and a second later they want a present from you, preferably money. Kids hawk postcards, 20 for a $1, but when you get the envelop back in the bus there are three in the pack. Wood, stone, metal and crap abound.
The price of everything is monstrously inflated to allow for bargaining, but what you get at any price is not a bargain. There is nothing to buy but everything is for sale. Now there are police everywhere whose purpose is to protect you from the hawkers, but it seems they stay way on the outskirts and out of the way. Except for when it is time for a sweep.
I was standing near the second pyramid and suddenly a Tourist police officer ran into the crowd of hawkers waving and yelling in Arabic. He was yelling and waiving as he marched from one end to the other. I really could not understand the ruckus until he emerged at the far end of the line with a plastic bag full of money! He is on the take too. Some protection!
Another major show is the “Camel ride”. There is the legal and the “illegal” version. Near the Great Pyramid are 10 camels and camel boys offering a ride. This is the “illegal” ride.
Here is how it works, you walk by and they offer a ride. You say no, they say just pet the camel for free “no money, no money”. You get near and they up the offer to “sit on the camel “no money, no money” if you are fool enough to sit and I swear there were some who did it, they run off into the Sahara with you on the camel! The trick and the cost are to get back to the start and get off the camel. This ride can cost up to 500 pounds ($100). Amazing, sounds like kidnapping to me.
Anyway we avoid the camels and I happen to notice another Tourist Policeman sitting on a camel watching the “illegal” hawkers doing absolutely nothing. Soon he rides over and ties his camel to a post and for some crazy reason runs on foot after the hawker who is on a camel. The hawker rides off, the cop runs after but there is no way he will ever catch a camel so it is a great show all for naught. He walks proudly back to his camel, unties the beast, mounts up and rides off into the shade. Again amazing.
We walk some more and then board the bus again for a ride to another section of the Giza Plateau. Here we see the second and third pyramids up close and head to the legal camel rides.
Here we have 100 camels and camel boys in a very organized line. The price is fixed at 50 pounds ($10) and the ride lasts about 20 minutes. Rick decides to go but I choose to stay behind.
Now we are back to the bus for the last stop at the Giza Plateau, the Great Sphinx. We are told the story of Seti II who fell asleep in front of the Sphinx. In his day 3700 years ago, only the head was visible. So as he slept the Sphinx came in a dread and told Seti to remove the sand and free me and I will make you a king. Seti removed the sand and two years later he was King Seti II.
Now the Sphinx is something to see. It is HUGE. You enter a temple area, covered by hawkers and there in front and below you in the sand is the Sphinx itself. Carved from a single block of sandstone you can still see the where the sand covered the Sphinx in the time of Seti II as the monument is actually in a hole and you see it from the level of its shoulders.
It is now 4:30 and time to return to the hotel so we can come back in 20 minutes to see the pyramid show. What a minute Tonto. We are leaving the area and going to the hotel to turn around in 10 minutes and drive all the way back so we can get in line for the 6:00 PM show right? Right. I guess this is Egypt planning stopped with the finishing of the pyramids.
Anyway, back to the hotel; stand in the lobby for 15 minutes back on the bus and back at the pyramid entrance at 6:00 PM for the 6:30 show. The sun is slowly falling behind the pyramids and the Great Sphinx is light from behind, beautiful.
We get to our reserved seats and watch as the sun slowly fades away to the west and sets behind the Great Pyramid. Soon it is dark enough and the laser/sound show begins.
Honestly it is a little hokey. The narrator is the Great Sphinx itself but you do learn some history and see highlighted important parts of the pyramids including an outline of the tunnels contained within and where the burial chamber was found, empty of course.
Anyway it was good to see once in your life. Back to the bus, it is now 8 PM and we remembered DINNER. We have not eaten a bite since noon and we are hungry.
Now Rick is a bit fed up with Egyptian food. Don’t ask. You have to know Rick to really understand. He wants Pizza. Where the hell am I going to get eatable Pizza in Cairo? Pizza Hut??
Of course he goes to the concierge desk where we discover that Pizza Hut delivers. NO there is no way in the world I am eating Pizza in Cairo, so we settle on Tex Mex!
Yup, right there in the hotel is a Tex Mex restaurant. Since this is Rick’s first request I go, kicking and screaming, into the restaurant which looks like every other Tex Mex chain in Pittsburgh, with the exact menu.
So Rick gets a Turkey wrap and I a Cheese Burger and fries, a true Egyptian meal. Well off to the room and write the blog and try to get some sleep.
What a day.
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