Arriving at the base of the Cheops Pyramid, I had a little moment of doubt, standing tiny in front of this monstrosity, I couldn't believe I was finally here. I'd dreamed of this moment for 30 years or so, and here I was Thursday the 25th of October, 2012, actually standing at the base of the largest of the 9 Great Pyramids at Giza. Overwhelmed is an understatement. My guide told me everything I needed to know, showed me around, took my picture standing in front and on the base, and then I proceeded in. Up a ramshacle wooden stairway I climbed for what seemed like forever until I reached the Burial chamber. I stood in the King's tomb, touched his cold granite coffin and just thought for a second again about where I actually was.
We headed next to a second site, past the Khufu Pyramid and one in which you can rent a private camel or horse tour around the backside of the pyramids, here there were hardly any tourists. We mounted up on our camels and headed off. 5 minutes later, I couldn't hear the voices anymore and looking around, found myself in the desert, riding a camel, with the 9 Pyramids as a backdrop. Overwhelmed again, we stopped at the perfect place so that I could get some touristy pictures and soak it all in.
We went shopping at an old bookstore after leaving the Sphinx, away from the crowds and the junk. I bought as much of the store as I could afford and carry and we headed off to dinner. Most of the tourists were eating at the KFC/Pizza Hut, while we instead proceeded to a local restaurant called "Caviar" which is above the "Cafe Cairo" with a perfect view of the Great Pyramid in the distance. Great service and a great meal of shrimp, calamari and fresh fish were the order of the day. All the while I just stared at the great monstrosity I'd been climbing in just a few hours earlier.
Our last stop before the evening lightshow was a papyrus institute. Now these are touristy, and pricey, but in my opinion worth it. A young man who spoke excellent English showed me how papyrus was made, showed me how to tell the real from the fake and described the importance of the scenes I was seeing. Again, I bought half the store, (hell when am I going to be back in Egypt?).
Fighting our way back to the hotel through traffic, I thought of everything I had done. I thought of the places my feet had been and realized that they were the same places the feet of the Ancient Egyptians had been 4000 years ago. I realized that an entire civilization, one I knew almost nothing about, had lived and died here for close to ten times as long as my own country and homeland (as I knew it) had been around.
Arriving back at the hotel, I tipped my driver and 10 minutes later was relaxing with a nice bottle of red wine over a late supper.