Chaotic Cairo kept a mass of experiences coming at me thick and fast as I leaped from one time to another in this intense jumble of ancient and new. My guide for my 10 days in Egypt was Sherif. Since he was born in Cairo and has lived there all his life, he truly knows Egypt like the back of his own hand. His passion for Egyptian culture really wore off on me and I was always excited for what I was going to see and do next.
As I uncovered the glory of the Pharaohs in the Egyptian Museum, my eyes scanned an amazing collection of King Tut’s treasures.
There was no air conditioning inside the museum and it was about 42 degrees Celsius in Cairo at the time. But I was in Egypt in August – I knew what I was getting myself into when I booked the trip. I also decided to book my trip to Egypt six months after the prime minister’s resignation and in the midst of riots and protests, but that’s another story.
My next stop after the museum was the iconic Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza – the only survivors of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Sherif cracked open the 4,600 year old history behind these massive monuments that 30,000 workers took over 80 years to build.
How can you fathom the moment when you lay eyes on a pyramid for the first time? It was almost as if a genie appeared out of nowhere and offered to grant me a wish. The pyramids truly are one of the most iconic sights on the planet. Set against the backdrop of a desert 30 minutes from Cairo, the pyramids felt almost unreal and mythical. As I set eyes on them for the first time, I went through a mixture of emotions. I was awestruck, humbled, amazed, and simply feeling blessed for the privilege of standing in front of them.
As I turned and saw Cairo in the distance, I thought back in time when Giza was simply a world away from civilization – a place where the great rulers decided to build their final resting spots.
The pyramids can be seen from downtown areas of the city, providing a constant reminder to modern Egyptians of their ancestors watching over them, as they have done for more than 4,000 years.
I was fortunate enough to be able to enter a pyramid! As expected, the pyramids are dark, and it is a surreal feeling as you emerge into the dimly lit and sharply descending space. Despite the darkness, it was incredibly hot inside. As I made my way down I had to uncomfortably hunch over, making it difficult to breathe. Completely worth it though, to say I have been inside an Egyptian pyramid!
Each stone block of the pyramids went to my waist. I noticed them, not the other people around me. They were mine for reflection and contemplation. All I could think of was how hard it must have been to make them, and how much will it must have taken when there were no cranes or power tools. Sherif explained that the pyramids weren’t built by slaves. The discovery of vast worker settlements shows that workers were actually well provided for with food and medical care.
Since the political system in Egypt wasn’t the greatest at the time (or even in existence) in conjunction with the ongoing riots, there were hardly any visitors at the most popular sights. Much to my parents’ chagrin upon informing them I was going to Egypt at this time, the chance to see the world’s ancient wonders relatively free from other visitors was a fantastic privilege. I would even recommend others to take advantage and go now as it’s one that’s sure to be short lived.