The sun woke me up at 5 am, so I walked to the window, and there they were, bathed in the early morning light; the Giza Pyramids. It was surreal for me as I had seen them on google earth, in many National Geographic films, but now they were across the street staring back at me. Once again, I was speechless.
Hassan picked me up, and we headed off for the day. We did not drive through Old Cairo or New Cairo but the edge of town. As we left, I have to say I was shocked at the condition of the city’s outskirts. When I thought of Cairo, I expected to see Souks and Minarets, lovely cobblestone streets, and men in traditional garb walking down the street. At the same time, women carrying baskets of their shopping for the day’s meals. I thought I would see a donkey here or there, along with a street dog. This is not what I saw.
The streets were littered with debris and garbage along the canal—piles of construction-type rubble. I initially thought it was from bombing during their revolution. The buildings were not the lavish Islamic architecture I expected, they looked like a parking garage with some cubes bricked up. Some had partial walls and a lot of open areas. But, again, I was on the edge of the city, not in the main area of the city itself.
I finally got the courage to ask Hassan if their revolution destroyed the city. I was told that only a small part of the city was damaged. The buildings I saw were family buildings. As the generations grew, they build their homes on top of family members’ homes as up was the only way to go. As the families needed the space, they would brick in another area and enlarge their homes. I am so glad I asked.
The further we drove out of town, the more exotic scenes appeared. From date fields to white donkeys pulling produce carts to an occasional camel or cow. For me, each donkey was exciting, and I had to get a photo. But, of course, I lost my mind the first camel I saw.
The driver pulled over when I saw a woman loading her cow cart with something. I filmed the cows until I discovered what was in the cart, cow poop. The guys loved showing me their country; you could tell they loved it very much. I adored every second of the drive.
The first stop would be Dahshur where the Red and Bent pyramids were. I understood the Bent pyramid was the most difficult pyramid to climb, so we started with the Red. I was afraid I would not have the strength to complete it if I was too tired from the Bent.
I assumed the entrance to the tomb was a normal hallway, like the catacombs in Paris. Not quite, they were narrow, a little over a meter wide but the height? One freaking meter tall. So you had to go down 60 meters into the hot desert sand, in a tunnel only a meter high. It gets better; you have to go down backward.
You read that right, backward.
If you fell face-first, you would have a long tumble; backward, you just did a face plant. Try this, bend over and put your hands out to your side and above your head. Walk back down the stairs in that position, and you will know what it was like.
The Red pyramid is a reddish color and in very good shape. Hassan went down with me and showed me some things while we were inside. The one thing that struck me about this pyramid was the smell. There was a strong ammonia smell from the bat urine, but I never saw one bat. The deeper you go, the stinkier and hotter it got.
We got to the bottom, and there was a peaked ceiling, it was like being in an attic. I was able to stand and look at the stones. They were still in such good shape and the workmanship was amazing.
We finally reached our destination in the pyramid and found no tomb; it was empty. It smelled so bad I just wanted to leave. It was a bit of a letdown to me. The climb up was tough in such a small space but not too bad. At least there were hand railings to help pull yourself up. Finally, we reached the top of the pyramid as a few other tourists arrived. We were down there the entire time alone, and it was creepy, deliciously creepy.
Fun Facts: Pharaoh Snefru built the pyramid about 2575 to 2551 BC. It is over 4,500 years old and the 3rd largest pyramid in Egypt.
It is the first smooth-sided true pyramid built after Pharaoh Snefru’s failed attempt with the Bent Pyramid.
It is 105 meters tall, and the main passage descents 63 meters to a short, horizontal corridor. There are two 3.6 meter x 8.3 meter, 12.3-meter tall corbelled roof chambers. It is unknown if Snefru was buried there, but bone fragments were found.