Look Mom, I made it to the pyramids!

Some impressions:
1. They are very large. Bigger than I thought they’d be. I was expecting the size of them to be a bit of a let down after a lifetime of hearing about them, but nope, they’re huge.
2. They’re basically right in Cairo (or the Cairo pseudo-suburb of Giza). If I was thinking clearer in the heat I would have gotten a better picture of this fact, but “pyramid road” goes from downtown Cairo through strip malls and offices, past the zoo and then just plops you at the pyramids.
3. The hustlers are horrible. One dude stood in front of our cab and won’t move until the cabbie started to run him over. I understand people’s need to get paid here, but damn is it annoying to have someone trying to hustle you every five feet.
4. Despite their size, and their age, I remain under-whelmed. I am much more interested in Islamic and Coptic Cairo than I am in the pyramids. I am interested in history that is still connected to people’s everyday experience much more than I am in ancient ruins of a civilization we know next to nothing about, and which has no connection to the lives we lead today.*

Here’s a bunch of photos with some commentary if you’re interested.
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The Big Guy

This is the great pyramid of Chufu. It’s the biggest of the three standing about 480 feet tall. For some reason, the Egyptian tourism ministry apparently looped off its top in the mid fifties. My guide** didn’t know why.The Son

This is the Pyramid of Khafre, the son Chufu. You can see how smooth the entire pyramid once was by looking at the top. I’m not a big pyramid fan, but the fact that anyone, ever, constructed something so huge with such precision is impressive.

The Grandson

This one’s the little guy, the pyramid of Menkaure. Saladin’s son apparently tried to destroy this one, but he didn’t get very far.

The Sphinx

Unlike the pyramids, the Sphinx is smaller than you’d expect. It’s also in pretty rough shape. Apparently it’s got some sort of rock disease that is making it disintegrate from in the inside out. Get there and see the sucker while you can! Also, legend has it Napoleon*** destroyed the nose of the Sphinx when he occupied Egypt. He didn’t. Earlier accounts by Islamic historians note the nose was gone by sometime in the middle of the 11th century.

The Tourists

Man there was a lot of them. This is some of them buying Bedouin style headdresses.

If this didn’t satiated your Pharonic needs, there’s plenty more pics on my flickr page.

* And no, raves and Shakira concerts don’t make a connection.
** My guide, by the way, was my Chinese Egyptology student roommate named… Napoleon. Napoleon deserves a post of his own, but for now, we’ll just say despite his many flaws, he knows his ancient Egypt.
*** Yes Napoleon my roommate named himself after Napoleon the short French men. I will explain all of this in some later post.

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