Edit Blog Post
Published: March 16th 2006
Our Favorite Camel Jockey
Was his picture worth $1 or what?
When we woke up this morning, we noticed that the sky was overcast…what we found out was overcast = sand storm.
We hired a guide named Tarek to do a half day tour with us at Saqqara, which is home to the Step Pyramid built by Djoser 3500 years ago. There are several other pyramids there as well, all of which were the first to be built. Most of them just look like big piles of rocks now, as it took them several tries to perfect pyramid making.
Tarek, our guide, was an interesting man because he is an Egyptian that is allergic to dust…go figure? How many Eskimos are allergic to snow? Needless to say, it was not a good day for Tarek with wind gusts up to 30 MPH (keep in mind sand flies rather easily). He was full of great information that will help us appreciate the tombs and hieroglyphics that we see in Luxor more. He taught us that the east is birth, and the west is death to the Egyptians. This is why all tombs/pyramids are west of the Nile River.
It’s funny to us how people from these other countries who
speak English tend to latch onto one or two words which they use incessantly. For example, Tarek likes “OK.” Here is a Tarek sentence: “OK, we are going to Saqqara, OK? There will be lots of traffic, OK? It was built by Djoser, OK.” I think we lost count at around a million…
We first explored the pyramid of Teti (2321 BC). In order to get to the burial chamber you have to climb down a 100 shaft that is appx. 4’ x 4’, and then go through another 100 foot shaft. Once inside we able to see our first hieroglyphics. These were carved, not painted and in perfect condition. The ceiling was full of stars (that look like starfish).
Next was the Mustaba of Kagemni (Mustaba is a pre-pyramid one level tomb with multiple rooms-all above ground). We were so shocked at the detail of the hieroglyphics on the wall. Many of the scenes were hunting, fishing, and daily life. There are several types of hieroglyphics; these were carved “out” not “in” (bas-relief) meaning that more work was involved. You never seem to imagine them to be as detailed as they are. It gives you
so much respect for their very evolved civilization. Then we headed over to the mustaba of Mereruka-this one had 23 rooms. These two mustabas were very interested because they belonged to private people (very important people) and not pharaohs. The Mereruka tomb is the largest private tomb in Egypt. The best part is seeing the color that remains on so many of the hieroglyphics. You can’t believe it has stood the test of time (and tomb robbers).
After another brief history lesson from Tarek we wandered around the step pyramid and ran into a couple of “fun” Egyptians that were out for some “Tourist Tips” (it’s Baksheesh in Arabic). The one guy (as you can see from our picture) had the best teeth ever! The other guy pretty much forces you to get on his camel..but the pictures turned out good (it was worth $1).
We left Saqqara and got to enjoy some great village scenery. How many places can you see a guy pull along 2 camels that are loaded full of palm tree leaves? Or villagers riding donkeys with baskets filled with vegetables. These people are still living in mud brick homes with grass
roofs, no water, no electricity-pretty much nothing. No matter how much you see it, it’s still amazes you how people live like this in the world. Sometimes you only associate poverty conditions this extreme with countries like Ethiopia…you soon realize that most of the world lives like this.
Fahti back in Cairo told us the country has banned the sale of chicken due to the bird flu. It’s hard for an American to imagine how this disease could spread so rapidly…now we can see how. There is no sanitation whatsoever! You have guys sitting in the middle of fields on a “break” eating their food - but they are sitting in feces infested mud, etc.. You see meat hanging out in the sun with thousands of flies all over it all day long. The tables they are using to cut the meat are just wood (once again with a million flies) probably never washed off.
We finished the day at Giza, but will make one travelblog from our visits.
Tot: 1.285s; Tpl: 0.049s; cc: 15; qc: 90; dbt: 0.0462s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb