Saturday, October 23, 2010

birthday at the pyramids

Happy birthday to me! I'm not a teenager anymore, how sad. But so far, being twenty has been pretty good.
I was a little bit afraid that having my birthday without any of my old friends or my family around would totally suck, but instead, I had an amazing day, since I've met so many wonderful people here in Egypt.
The day started early, with a taxi ride to AUC's old campus in downtown Cairo, where we got on the bus that would take us to Giza. Professor Ikram wished me a happy birthday and gave me a brownie, which was very nice of her. The drive to Giza was relatively painless, although commiserating with the other students in my class about how totally lost we are for our midterm on Monday was a little worrisome. Still, I've been studying, and I'll do my best. Hopefully that's good enough.
We started our tour of the Giza plateau by meeting up with an archaeologist who is currently excavating the one of the workers' villages near the pyramids. Her work was really interesting, even if we had to climb ridiculous sand dunes and a giant rocky hill to see it. Here's some pictures of that:
view across smoggy cairo from the hill
the second pyramid
foreground: the pyramid builder's village
on the left is the top of the hill we climbed, it's a lot higher on the other side.
Then, we walked to the valley temple of Khafre (the builder of the second pyramid), which is right next to the Sphinx. The temple was beautiful, at least what remained was (all the decoration and statues have been taken to various Egyptian and European museums), but I didn't get any pictures inside. Here's the Sphinx, though:
okay, not the sphinx. a camel leg bone prof ikram
 found on the ground and took home with her.
After the professors were done talking, they somehow disappeared, or we just didn't keep up. We got a little lost, and were chastised when we found our way back to the group eventually. I won't be doing that again any time soon! (Or ever. Never ever.)
Next, we visited the funerary boat of King Khufu (the builder of the first pyramid). The boat museum was wonderfully designed, and we got to wear awesome shoes inside to protect the boat:
boat booties!
the boat pit where the boat was found
so pretty. i want to sail in it.
what do you mean, i can't sail in it? why not?
At this point, lots of people in our group were very very thirsty, because we'd been promised a return to the bus, which hadn't happened yet, and actually never happened until the trip was over. Professor Ikram bought water for the people who needed it, but once you're dehydrated, one bottle of water isn't going to make you better, especially when you're still out in the hot sun.
Luckily, I'd brought my entire bag with me, two huge water bottles, four granola bars and all. I got a little dehydrated, just because I was usually too busy scrambling along with the group like good little ducklings to have time to take a drink, but by the end of the trip, both bottles were completely empty.
After seeing the boat, we entered two mastaba tombs of the 5th dynasty (I think). They were both really interesting, with carvings and paintings just like we'd talked about in class. Did I take pictures, despite the sign saying no cameras? Well, yes. Because the professor told me I could:
the tomb owner and his special kilt
Then it was time to visit the great pyramid. You might remember, last time I visited Giza, I only went into the second pyramids, because the first was too expensive. However, when you're with Professor Ikram, nothing costs any money beyond the field trip fee! It's just like magic.
The first pyramid was amazing, with the corbelled ceiling in the grand gallery and the sheer size of the tunnels through the rock. The pathways up to the burial chamber were steep, but not impossible. It felt like there wasn't any air inside, and it was amazingly hot and humid, but as you can see (read?), I survived. It was a close thing, though, especially when I hit my head on the ceiling of one of the tunnels, giving myself an instant headache. Ouch. Getting back out into the fresh air was a huge relief, except then we walked straight over to the next pyramid to go inside that one as well.
I almost didn't go, just because I'd already seen it, but then I thought, why miss out on the chance to visit it again, with a famous Egyptologist as a tour guide? It was a great choice, and I had a good time, even though I almost suffocated again.
(The best part of being inside the great pyramid, by the way, was when a man inside with a flashlight offered to take a group picture of us by the king's sarcophagus, even though photos are strictly not allowed. Professor Ikram said it was okay, though, so I jumped at the chance. I'll post that picture whenever I find it on someone's facebook, I promise. Even if I look horrible in it. [Here it is!])
i'm waaay in the back, just about in the middle. behind the freaking sarcophagus.
After getting out of the second pyramid, we headed back for the bus (Professor Ikram made everyone sing Happy Birthday to me and the other birthday student, which went something like, "happy birthday dear mumble-mumble") and went home. I caught a cab back to the dorms with some friends, and then headed straight upstairs for a birthday nap. When I woke up, I showered to get the dust of Giza off of myself, and then studied some more. In between readings, I made plans with friends to go out for a birthday dinner. We ended up at Dido's, an Italian restaurant not very far away. I had pesto fettuccine, which was completely delicious, so I'll definitely be going back there again! After dinner, we walked to a bakery/gelato place for dessert, which was amazing. I ordered tiramisu and coffee gelato, which was the best choice ever.
When we got back to the dorms, sigh, I came upstairs and studied some more. Aren't I dedicated? I hope that I do okay on my Dramatic Lit midterm tomorrow, because I'm afraid I kind of neglected it in favor of studying for Art and Architecture. Oh well.
In conclusion, I had an amazing twentieth birthday, and I can only hope that bodes well for the coming year.

1 comment:

  1. im really glad you're 20th birthday was this amazing! And it definately "bodes well for the coming year". =)