Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 43: Cairo

Egypt!  We pulled into our first North African port early in the morning.  There was a buzz of anticipation throughout the ship as this was probably the port people were most looking forward to.  Usually overnight trips do not depart until the morning of the second day at port but this wasn't the case in Egypt.  This fact in conjunction with the large number of people on some trips (up to 300 in one overnight) led to quite a bit of chaos on the ship.  The parents arrived in the midst of all this and I met my parents in the Union before our trip's departure.  It was really great getting to see them, I was so excited it was tough getting decent sleep the night before.  It's so hard to catch up effectively because there's so much to share on both sides but we're doing pretty well.

After the ship was cleared we departed by bus for a quick drive around Alexandria then through the Sahara Desert to Cairo.  We have a really good guide that will be with us through the whole Egypt trip.  As promised the traffic situation in Egypt is absolutely insane.  There are no rules.  Although I've had a lot of crazy traffic expose in previous ports, it's only been two days here as I write (on a bus in the middle of the Sahara again, this time from Luxor to Aswan) and nobody even flinches anymore as we pass on a two lane road with opposing traffic head on a few hundred feet away with no hint of breaking.  The desert drive was very interesting.  The most obvious feature is all the unfinished buildings.  Practically everything is "under constriction" because as long as the building is unfinished there's no property tax.  For this reason, most people live in apartments that have unpainted exteriors or half completed top floors with rebar still poking out.  It's also cool to note all the unique "pidgin" houses on the side of the desert roads.  A commodity here, pidgins are eaten by a lot of men as a demo of superiority.

On arrival in Cairo we had a buffet lunch at the Meridien Pyramids hotel.  Offering typical Egyptian food, there was a lot of meat and bread.  Outside the hotel there was a beautiful view of the Giza Pyramids, our next stop.  Upon arrival we got a little of the basic history and info on how to avoid the hounding locals trying to sell things.  The souvenir sales people here are notoriously some of the worst in the world, it's legitimately very difficult to walk by without being ambushed (we're getting good with "no" and "go away" in Arabic).  The pyramids were stunning.  After the initial shock at such magnificent structures (3000 years old!) it's a little anticlimactic because there's really not much to do except walk around in the 100 degree heat and take pictures.  I'm told you can always bribe the guards and try climbing them but we saved that for another day.  The mighty Sphinx was also incredible to see (albeit a bit smaller than imagined).  You see images of the Great Pyramids of Giza so often it's weird and awesome to actually be there.  We then drove to a spot with a nice panoramic view of the pyramids and did the obligatory camel ride.  It's a bit wild trying to hang on as they stand and knell at the beginning and end but once you "feel the motion of the camel" the ride itself wasn't too rough.  My parents and I each had our own camel and the three were tethered together.  Don't worry, we have plenty of pictures.

Following the camel adventure we checked in at the hotel and had an hour or so to rest up.  In the evening we attended an interesting little Son et Lumiere (sound and light) show at the pyramids.  As one member of our group observed, its kind of like Disney meets Egypt.  They basically go through a historical narrative while shining different lights and lasers on the pyramids.  It was a little corny but also kind of cool.  I felt kind of bad for my mom and dad because they were still adjusting to the time changes and slept through most of the show.  After arriving back at the hotel we grabbed some dinner and hit the sack for an absurdly early start the next day.

1 comment:

Agnes said...

Yay!!! Glad your parents got there safely!!! I can't wait to see the camel ride pictures!!!! Your mom was anticipating this weeks before the trip!!!