Tuesday, November 2, 2010

tuesday at the pyramids, take 2

Sarah and I slept in this morning, and then lounged around a little bit, until we were awake. Then we took to the streets of Zamalek so I could do my grocery shopping. And so we could eat brunch. We ate at Munch and Bagel, where I (again!) had the delicious turkey bagel sandwich. Someday, I will try something new, but that day wasn't today. Then we went to Alfa for groceries, and I bought apples and peanut butter and 3x5 cards. (Probable TMI warning: apparently you can't buy tampons in Egypt? What the heck? Not cool.)
After eating and shopping, we headed back to the dorm to relax for a little bit longer before heading off to our adventure for the day, visiting the pyramids for the first time for Sarah, and third time for me. I didn't mind at all though, it's not like they get less awe-inspiring.
I had toyed with the idea of taking a bus to the pyramids from Tahrir Square downtown, but eventually gave up that idea in favor of taking a taxi. The ride itself wasn't bad, but when we finally got near the pyramids, right before the hill leading up to the parking lot, two men jumped out in front of the car, forcing the driver to stop. It turned out they were trying to get us to hire a horse carriage or camels from them. They did this by telling us that walking around the pyramids was impossibly tiring, and we really shouldn't attempt it. I wanted to snap at them that I'd already walked all over the Giza plateau with Salima Ikram, so surely I would be fine. Also they kept calling me sister, which was really annoying. Finally, we convinced them to leave us alone (after ignoring them didn't work), and our driver took us up to the ticket booth (getting stopped once more on the way). We bought our tickets, and were in.
sarah's first pyramid!
I waited outside while Sarah climbed into the depths of the first pyramid. I was cheap, so I didn't want to pay for a ticket, or risk hitting my head again. We had good weather, so I didn't mind waiting in the shade and the wind for her to come back out.
big pyramid, tiny sarah
After the first pyramid, we walked over to the second, but didn't go inside. The policemen were trying to get us to come closer to the pyramid beyond the keep-out ropes, so that they could get money from us, presumably. We didn't go, despite their persistence.
Next, we walked over to the solar boat museum, got our booties, and went in. I love that boat. When we finished the museum, we walked a bit around the great pyramid, to see if the mastaba tombs I visited with Professor Ikram were open to visitors, but they weren't, as far as I could tell.
When we were walking away from the pyramid, toward the Sphinx, we got semi-assaulted by a group of babbling middle-school age Egyptian girls. They surrounded us, and I couldn't tell what they wanted. Eventually, one girl in a bright pink hijab spoke up, and said she wanted to take a picture with me. This was very strange. Why, why, why on earth would anyone want to take a picture with me? Let alone go ahead and ask to take one? She asked my name, and I told her, and then I asked for hers in Arabic, after which we conversed between my very bad and her very fast Arabic. Her name was Maha. One of her friends took the picture, with me and Sarah surrounded by eight or ten Egyptian teenyboppers. It was kind of adorable, if very weird. After the picture was taken, I took out my camera and asked if they would take another one with it. I thought the girl did, but I guess she was just being sneaky, because when I checked, it wasn't there. Sad.
After the picture was taken, the rest of their group, and a man I presume was their teacher, came up. I don't remember exactly what was said, but the teacher did invite us to come on their tour with them, which we politely declined. So they left, and we left, to walk down the road to the Sphinx, where another odd thing happened: someone else asked to take a picture with me. I don't know what was going on. This time it was a teenage boy and his friends, though, so I said no, because it was a bit creepy. He was polite though, and not a jerk, so I talked to him for a bit in Arabic/English. He asked where I was from, and I said California, and that I lived in Cairo. Then he called me beautiful, which was out of the blue and a step further in our relationship than I was willing to take, so I excused myself, and we headed down to the Sphinx.
Talking about it later, Sarah and I were wondering what on earth made these people want to take pictures with me. The only thing we could settle on was maybe my hair, since it is pretty out of the ordinary in Egypt. I was dressed modestly, and honestly didn't expect to attract any attention today. Shows what I know.
The Sphinx was sphinx-like, although we didn't get to spend very much time with him, because the best viewing spot was being shut down for closing time, meaning we had to force our way through giant crowds of people going to the exit of the temple near the Sphinx, because the guards telling us to get out didn't think to stop the flow of people going in first.
hello mr sphinx
Then we crossed the street and had dinner at that famous Egyptian restaurant, Pizza Hut. It was worth it for the view:
sunset behind the pyramids. at pizza hut!
We left the restaurant, and caught a metered taxi home, which ended up being cheaper than the 40 pounds quoted to us by the nice man who spoke to us outside. I would have been okay with going with him if he hadn't been so pushy. I think I've taken the advice 'always choose your taxi, never let your taxi choose you' to heart. Traffic on the way back was terrible, but we made it home, where a miracle happened. We didn't have exact change for the taxi, so I over paid by five pounds, and asked for change, fully expecting the driver to just shrug and drive away. But no! He produced a five pound note and bid us farewell. What a gentleman.
We walked to get gelato before heading back to the dorm, and saw this street sign for our road. Mohamed Sakeb. Everything else I've seen calls it Mohamed Thakeb and that's what the Arabic on the sign reads. So, I don't really know what is going on, but I know what to tell the taxi company next time, at least!
this explains a lot
Tomorrow I have to go to school, and take my Arabic midterm, which kind of sucks. I think I'll do alright though. I also get to drag Sarah along to campus on the hour long bus ride. I'm such a great host.
I will have a vlog to post here tomorrow, but I'm not going to stay awake while it uploads, so you'll just have to wait. Be patient.
[Here's the video! Please enjoy.]

NaNo word count: 3592

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