Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cairo - day one


I was happily surprised by how impressive the pyramids were. I had heard from several folks that one could be underwhelmed by the size of the tombs in real life. I disagree - they were wonderful on the seven wonders of the ancient world roster definition scale.

I knew the sphinx was not very large – relatively speaking so I did not expect too much from it so I was not disappointed. Frank and I did go into the second pyramid – taking the claustrophobic, steeply downward angled, nearly airless and stiflingly humid tunnel into the depths of the monument along with busloads of screaming elementary school aged children. Definitely not a trek for the asthmatic or easily spooked as the average height of the route I guess was around four foot. Luckily halfway down the passageway it opened up into a small chamber where the ceiling shot up to lofty level of five foot or so – allowing me to uncoil my back a bit. The burial chamber at the end of our journey was of course empty and about the size of Winnebago. I’m glad we did it, but it is definitely one of those did it once – don’t need to do it again experiences.

From there our guide took us on the obligatory separate the tourist from some cash destination. Now I don’t know for sure – but I think it is a pretty safe supposition that these guides supplement their income by steering their clients to certain opportunities to spend money. For example, in Bali a tour we took included being taken to an artist’s house who was selling his pen and ink drawings. His work now proudly hangs in our house. Here we were brought to a perfumery where we watched glass being blown and received a thickly accented treatise on the advantages of Egyptian herbal extracts and then maneuvered toward the purchase of three hundred dollars worth of various unctuous concoctions. We demurred – opting to pick up a much less expensive bottle of eucalyptus oil. We also let our guide know we felt we could skip the papyrus factory and instead headed directly to the Museum of Antiquities.

Two hours are not enough time to really see the museum – but that was all the time we had. Realistically – jet lag was beginning to swim around our skulls and two hours was most likely all the attention span we had left. Even in our foggy states, the collections impressed. The King Tut exhibit was literally breathtaking. Seeing the gold death mask ubiquitous to all things Egyptian for every westerner just four or five inches behind a glass display case was much more moving than I had expected. What was amazing though was the sheer quantity of the artifacts that came out of the tomb. I was very impressed, especially since I worked for a moving company almost three decades ago and can appreciate expert packing. Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed inside.

To be cont…

1 comment:

csalinger said...

You all seem to be really enjoying this trip....I've been following Frankie's blog. He writes very well, his comments are interesting and to the point. You should congratulate him on a job well done.

I like the pictures.