I craned my neck combing the height of it. Then looked straight and realised, each block is above man-height. 2,300,000 limestone blocks, weighing, on average, 2.5 tons each.
The pyramids sit on the edge of suburbia. Out of the traffic (only 30 minutes!) and smog, cairo flattens out quite abruptly into rocky dessert.
As we closed in the pyramids, something else closed in on us. We heard the touts before we saw them. Can you imaging being in a bumpy locomotive nearing the ancient wonders as hard-faced men come at you yelling and gesticulating. Like being in a car with a bear hurtling at you, speaking arabic. The guards had machine guns. At first i was meercat-like on alert, wondering what the fuss was about. Guidebooks did mention the aggressive touts, but i see now they are that and also creatively persistent. A man clambered onto our taxi banging on the roof; our driver rolled up his window to keep out the heads. It made for a strange initiation into giza, but i imagine this was how many arrived. Travelers from afar to see these old wonders and being initiated by eager trade. I quickly learnt (and continued to relearn this along the way, especially in luxor) not to make a fuss. Because any fuss is only about selling. So we sat cool in the crossfire. At the entrance booth, we bought a second ticket to also visit the queen’s chamber.
You’re out coming to terms with a much familiar image, and then you’re in dark cool belly of it.
The queen’s chamber.
This might well be a rare handful of times when surreal met awe. Two of us in a room hung in a cavernous tomb in the heart of 4000 years. I couldn’t stop feeling wave upon wave of amazement. We counted: our echoes lasts over ten seconds. When you’re silent, you can feel the pyramid speak. Unnerving.
Sun, sand, and dust and dust and dust.
Our guide took us around on an hour’s tour, which passed too fast. He arranged us into kitschy poses at each landmark. I forgot his name, but he was young, handsome and his tracksuit attire proud and dusted. The horse was very tired and worn. The kid (“my sister’s son”) rode with us, listening to the bargaining and the tour. The pyramids, and the sprawl of the city east were amazing enough, but it was the sunset that also took my breath away. It prompted my first materialistic wish: a better camera to capture the gorgeous colours! Let no one tell you desert colours are plain.