Wonders of the World

June 16, 2007

The Egypt Chronicles, Part 3

When I say Egypt, what is the first thing you picture in your head? If you were a Sunday school all-star, you might be picturing frogs jumping out of your computer screen right now. But if not, the pyramids are probably floating in your head. Somehow these monuments have come to symbolize the historic civilization that has lived along the Nile River since the beginning of history, and it was to these ancient wonders that our Egyptian adventure brought us next.

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We spent our time at the pyramids exploring and taking pictures.

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Honestly, this guy has been sitting in the sun for 3500 years, he could use a little shade.

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Whitney thought he was kind of cute.

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This guy was pretty friendly and wanted me to take a picture of him. We then left before he could try to sell us anything.

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Getting a picture on a camel at the pyramids is a must if you go to Egypt.

The whole area that houses the Sphinx and the pyramids is crawling with locals hoping to take advantage of rich tourists. Each ten steps you take you are offered a camel ride while others will offer you water or some cheap trinket. Interestingly enough, very few locals will actually guess that you are American. They are more likely to think that you are Australian or English. This misidentification results from a lack of American tourists in Egypt.

We paid the extra cost to go inside one of the bigger pyramids, and the interior was surprisingly simple. A single shaft descends into the pyramid before ascending to the burial chamber. Unlike other tombs we would see in Egypt, these walls were without paintings or carvings. The temperature inside the pyramid was also surprisingly high, so we did not stay long. At one point in the narrow shaft, I thought to myself, “I really hope this thing doesn’t collapse.” I quickly realized that the pyramids have been there for 3500 years, so they would probably hold for five more minutes.

On our way out of the pyramids we asked one guy for a camel ride. We asked how much it would cost, and he said, “No problem.” Apparently we had not quite learned our lesson yet. We quickly took pictures and then offered the man a rate we had got from other camel operators nearby. However, he did not find the rate so fair and went ballistic, so PC and I spent the next few minutes explaining how we were not going to give him the ridiculous amount of money he was asking. We ended up giving him a little more than he had planned, but this still did not make him too happy.

As we were leaving the pyramids, we were trying to decide whether we wanted to try and go farther South to more pyramids or back into the city for the Antiquities Museum. We got a taxi and decided to return to the city. Our taxi driver had heard us talking about the other pyramids, so every few minutes he offered to take us there the next day. Whenever he offered, I told him that we were catching a train that night and would be in Luxor the next. Each time, he said, “No problem.”

We arrived at the museum with little difficulty and were excited to enter and see what our Rough Guide called “the finest display of its kind in the world.” This museum is excellent because of the quality of its artifacts, not the brilliance of its presentation. Many of the artifacts lack labels that explain what they are, and some of the ones that are labeled are only hand-written. However, we had both our Rough Guide and small booklet from our professor that pointed out the highlights, so we felt confident in proceeding without a guide. One item of significance to us who were studying in the Holy Land was the Merneptah Stele, which clearly refers to Israel. Here we are in front of the museum.

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The most impressive display at the Egytian Antiquities Museum is clearly King Tutankhamun’s gold. When Egyptian pharaohs died, they were not simply buried in a casket at a cemetery; they were laid to rest in elaborate tombs that were loaded with treasure. However, as these tombs were discovered, they were all empty—they had been robbed. Only one tomb was found in its original condition, and that tomb was King Tut’s. He was buried in a sarcophagus, which was placed inside another sarcophagus, which was placed inside of yet another sarcophagus. These sarcophagi were then placed inside of a box inside of a box inside of a box. Did I mention that all these boxes and sarcophagi were made of solid gold? And these things are only the being of the opulence of the dead king. Certainly the most impressive artifact is the burial mask, which would have been placed over the corpses face. You can still see the brilliant colors that were painted on this mask thousands of years ago.

By the time we left the museum, night was approaching. We spent the evening eating at T.G.I. Friday’s with some fellow IBEXers and getting to the train station. It was hard to believe that that very morning we had awoken in a hostel room in Israel. Since then we had traversed the Sinai, crossed under the Suez Canal, seen the Nile River, haggled with taxi drivers and camel owners, been inside a pyramid, and seen King Tut’s gold. What a day it had been! But this was only our first of seven days in Egypt.

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One Response to “Wonders of the World”

  1. Micah Lugg said

    Ben, that’s crazy that you did all that in one day. We took two days in Cairo, but we wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. I’m glad you were able to Egypt, it is a really cool place.

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