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March 3, 2011   

Egypt: Day 2

Riding camel around the Giza pyramids

 

meeting friendly Egyptians

Giza pyramids, sphinx and a bunch of old stuff… surreal. Can’t believe it. We were just watching the news a few weeks ago, dad, Sue and I in Rochester, NY, and I half-heartedly mentioned that now might be a good time to go over there. A week went by and we were watching the news again. Mubarak is out. Booked a ticket. And now… here I am.

I can’t imagine there being a better time to visit Egypt, the Pyramids in particular, in decades, if not centuries. There was practically no one there. I saw only a few other tourists (literally, a few) as the vast majority of folks there were trying to sell stuff and local kids used it as a bit of a playground. Very, very different from an American point of view. If this was in the US, you wouldn’t get within 20 feet of the pyramids and there would be a sample stone in an vacuum sealed acrylic case in a beautifully architected park building somewhere. Make the case for historical preservation and park hygene all you want, but nothing beats actually being there, touching them, walking where the Pharoahs did, over the disguarded plastic bottles, and descending into their tombs. When Mubarak left, the police lobbied for a sizeable pay raise, which they got. But yet they no longer actually work. Security does nothing, and certainly couldn’t be bothered to turn on lights or tell me not to take pictures anywhere I wanted. Suited me just fine, but still a rather strange turn of events.

My guide was great, even carried my water bottle. I left him to haggle with people and create a few unique opportunities, and helped keep the local peddlers at bay. Being that there was so little prey, their tactics felt more like the black flies of Alaska in mid July. And again, the security and officials were there in body only. They did nothing and I could go anywhere. People were very happy to have me there. And apparently, President Obama has a very big family. They adore him here, which in itself is, adorable.

Had an amazing day today, not just the pyramids and desert, but back in Cairo this afternoon getting caught in some demonstrations and started shooting and talking to a few people. Have a meeting with the newspaper people this evening. Maybe playing some soccer tomorrow night if I survive the day.

Since arriving a few days ago, I’ve shot 14 rolls of b/w and a couple rolls of Provia. Very tired, feet hurt, and I’m the color of a good spanking.

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