Wake Up Call
Cairo from our windowIn the morning one arises to the sounds of prayer on a LOUD speaker; these prayers are heard 5 times a day as is the tradition of Islam. Making friends in Cairo is easy, as long as you are willing to help someone get over. The owner of the Internet café we visited to send word of safe arrival back home has offered us his car and driver to go to the pyramids, if we take him to the foreigners only duty free shop and so we find ourselves in Giza with the option of taking the short trip or the big trip, both with horses and English speaking guide. We decide to take the big trip that covers the pyramids of Giza and Abu Sir, and after a quick riding lesson riding in the desertwe approach Giza's three infamous Pyramids; The Pyramid of Menkaure, The Pyramid of Chephren and The Great Pyramid of Cheops. The pyramids of Giza is the only remaining wonder of the 7 great wonders of the world. 4000 years of history, mystical and majestic stand before us, you have seen them in pictures and in film so many times but nothing can really prepare you for your first visit to these amazing monuments.

pyramid of Menkaure, The Pyramid of ChephrenWe cross over the desert on our horses, it is 7a.m. and the lighting is not yet sufficient for us to make Kodak moments, we dismount our horses sit on top of a mountain overlooking the pyramids and wait for the ticket office to open. We are going inside the smallest of the 3 pyramids of Giza. You want picture on camel…water…souvenir where you from my friend? The most aggressive salesmen are in Egypt and there is no shame in their game, they would like to separate you from yourthe infamous sphinx money. We enter the Pyramid and descend directly downwards to find that the tombs are completely empty. In Giza all the mystique is above the ground, so we ascend and photograph pyramids and the Sphinx from every concievable angle. I observe the nose of the Sphinx, or rather the lack one. As a African-Caribbean man I have heard the story of how it came to be missing. That upon his arrival at the Sphinx, Napoleon was so outraged by the obvious African Features and the flat nose that would have fit right in, that he shot it of with his cannon, so the world would not know what great things the African had built. There was no mistaking these features for anything else but African. Afterwards we rejoin our guide who has been waiting with our horses and we are off to Abu Sir a 22km journey to see the other lesser known Pyramids and tombs. Hani our guide has a strange habit of riding behind us and making the crudest of jokes for our entire trip, we alternate between 5-minute sprints and relaxed trots.

ruins at abu sirAbu sir has been closed to the public due to renovations and so we encounter our first experience with Bakeesh. When one door is closed a little Bakeesh will open. At this site we experience Hieroglyphics for the first time, and I get to lie down in the Pharos coffin for a Kodakthe watchtower at abu sir moment. We explore and then check our water stock, we are in the desert and water is low. Our guide has gone to a nearby village to feed our horses. Later after having tea with the guards, we depart for our return to Giza, our horses are fresh, we are not. We go into a remote village eat a hot meal of Falafel, I cannot remember ever being this hungry. Hani tells us, he has done this trip everyday of his life since he was 15 years old.

a view from the oasis back at GizaAt a stream in an Oasis on the trip back, Hani stops to feed our horses and wash their feet, and out of nowhere comes a group of Kids, who hang with us..Practicing the little English they know, as we consult our guidebook to speak a little Arabic. They were having a bit of difficulty with my name, so I simplified it and had them call me a Muslim name very close to my own...Mustafa. This name would stick throughout the rest of the trip. local kids in the oasisExactly 10 hours after our departure we return to the stable, take a taxi back to Cairo and check into our new hotel and sleep. After 10 hours on that horse I was aching in places that I had forgotten I had. A few hours later we are woken for our dutifull trip to the duty free shop. In Cairo only foriegners are allowed to get the 'good stuff'; Jack Daniels, Malboro's etc. from the duty free shops, and only within 24 hours of your arrival, so if you are visiting and anyone asks you when did you get here, tell them you have been here for a few days, otherwise you will find yourself in the duty free shop, because their daughter is getting married next week. I notice that signs in Egypt are often in English and Arabic, however the attempts at spelling English can often be quite humorous, ice criem, oraintal restaurant, hair stail…

After the duty free shop we visit the river Nile, in Cairo when the sun goes down the people appear on the streets. I notice another peculiarity in the Arabic culture men often walk hand in hand or with their arms interlocked. It's a different world.

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