Today’s the day! We woke up this morning; packed our bags (that is of course after showering with my mouth slammed shut) put our bags outside our door at 8am as we were told to do and headed to breakfast. We ate, with some difficulty again as it is hard to be a vegetarian in a land where you can’t eat vegetables…well at least the fresh kind anyway, and then we went to the lobby. We checked that our luggage had made its way down to the vehicle and then we jumped into a minivan and headed to the Egyptian museum. This museum is in the process of being moved as they are building a bigger one closer to the pyramids. My husband of course couldn’t pay much attention as his pride and joy, the Melbourne Storm (National Rugby league team) were playing in the Grand Final (Rugby’s superbowl) and he was frantically awaiting the results…they won by the way! It is also the one with the largest collection of pieces in the world today. There amidst all of the artifacts and fancy jewels were tons of people inside with no air conditioning and tons of people smoking outside making it almost impossible to find a patch of clean air. After looking at many impressive artifacts (including a replica of the Rosetta Stone), jewels, headpieces, items found in King Tut’s tomb and hundreds of other artifacts we made our way out of the museum. Seriously, I’ve never been to a museum without air conditioning before so that was hard enough on these respiratorily distressed lungs of mine, but couple that with the dust of those old pieces of art and it makes it nearly impossible to breathe. So, after lots of time, and lots of pieces (including a room just for animal mummification) we left the museum and headed to a partially converted farm for an authentic Egyptian lunch.
Lunch was lovely. There was falafel and hummus, rice and unlimited meats for the carnivores at the table. A few musicians playing as we walked in, a woman baking the fresh naan with a little girl nearby who wanted to be my friend. She had to have been about three and walked right up to me and took my hand and walked herself to the bus with us; it was adorable. And then…after lunch…we were on our way; to the Great Pyramids of Giza one of the wonders of the world. And then…I saw them! Oh my goodness, I didn’t know I would feel this way when I saw them, but oh my goodness!!! What an unbelievably amazing sight! My girlfriend Jessica who is dying to see all of the wonders of the world just wouldn’t know what to do with herself, let me tell you! I just couldn’t believe that after 11 years of teaching it was there that I was actually standing, there in the desert of Giza and the Pyramids. They were unbelievable- a sight to see!
We took way too many photos with cameras flashing every second of just about everything. The man on the camel, the kid on the donkey, the pyramid on this side, me in front of the pyramid…nothing was missed! They were just awesome. So immense and filled with wonder. A few people crawled inside of them (not going to happen with this asthma that’s for sure) and the rest of us viewed them from the outside. Of course one of the salesman outside offered to trade me for a camel; luckily my husband said no! Then of course he stopped to take a photo with us and then asked for money that he did and when I offered two US dollars he said that he wanted more and singles weren’t accepted. Ha ha ha …I should have said forget it but I handed him two dollars and walked away. He couldn’t ruin the pyramids for us though; it was just unbelievable to be standing in their presence regardless of the stories of how they were built or however you feel about their use and existence; they are just incredible to see.
We then drove up to a lookout spot where you could see all three of the largest pyramids together and then we picked up our waiting camels (and handlers) and were on our way. My camel according to the guide was named Michael Jackson and Mathew’s was named 007. We all had a great time on our very big camels and at a few points Mathew and I were driving ourselves…it totally rocked! We continued through the pyramids for some more photos and then jumped into the van and headed to the sphinx for some more photos of memorable spots in the world. (We also happened to be there at the same time as the Under 20 English soccer team). We finished with the Sphinx (mind-boggling to be there as well I must say) and headed to a Papyrus Institute run by the government for a short demonstration on how papyrus is made. Papyrus is the first type of paper in the world and it is made from the papyrus plant. Papyrus grows only in Egypt just like the lotus flower which opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. Apparently, many of the papyrus things that you can get in the markets in Egypt are all fake and made from banana leaves and the only Papyrus you can get comes from government plants as it is a government run thing. We watched a demonstration of from plant to paper and then spent some time with the opportunity to buy some papyrus…of course we did, don’t be ridiculous! We wandered a bit around the shop for awhile later and then headed to the train platform at the Giza station to await the arrival of our overnight transport to Aswan.
Well, our 8pm train arrived around 8:20pm. We had purchased some snacks on the platform as we didn’t know what dinner would actually be and were chatting with James and Louise. Have I told you much about them yet? Well, they have been dating for quite awhile and have spent the last nine months in Canada. They both work in hotel hospitality and Louise’s dad is Canadian and has been living in Australia for like ever but she’s been there a few times and they sound like really fun people. Louise’s sister lives in Japan and they went to visit for about two weeks at the start of their journey and told us a great story about the kindness of strangers and as I’ve said before, as travelers, many times you rely on just that! They had missed their train in Japan and didn’t know which one to get on and an elderly lady saw that they were a bit confused and walked over to them and handed them a mobile phone…she had called a friend who spoke English (because she didn’t), told the friend what had happened and what they should do and the person on the phone told them just that…it never ceases to amaze me, you know and you so wish you’d hear more stories like that and the more you travel the more you realize that there are so many really wonderful people out there in the world. Anyway…sorry for the tangent, we’ve gotten on our train and are in our little compartment with two pulled out beds (one on top of the other), two little boards that fit into the wall for tables and a small closet that opens and has a sink, mirror and wash cloths inside. We’ve of course realized that the party car is just at the end of the train and every time the door opens to the party car smoke wafts into our car and is a bit gross! Tons of people keep going back and forth walking through the car so we can’t really leave the door open for much longer and are confined to the small space for the next 13 hours…people do this all the time, right?
Dinner came and unfortunately wasn’t much vegetarian fare so I had a peanut butter and honey sandwich (see, glad we’re well prepared now aren’t we) and finished the peanut butter off with one of our granola bars. We’ve had to have one of the mechanics come in to fix the beds as they wouldn’t fold down as easily as they should and we’re ready to head to bed with our sleep sheets and sleeping bags safely on top of the sheets (because, ewh, really…not putting my head down on those pillows that’s for sure-I’m sure they are washed but wouldn’t be using those comforters for anything) and me on the top bunk and the husband on the bottom. Tomorrow…Aswan!