Cairo for a Day
May 14, 2008 - Cairo
Wow, I always thought it was tough to drive in Rome or Paris. These cities are child's play compared to Cairo. We drove off this morning in the smog and dust and first went to the Pyramids. Spectacular as you would think. Then we went to the National Museum. Unfortunately, they do not allow cameras in there and there were about 75,000 militia around the place to make sure your cell phone didn't click either. Saw King Tut's things, although about 25% is on tour. Saw the royal mummies and they were neat too.
After lunch, we went to the bazaar to be attacked by hoards of sellers of everything useless. Sorry, for those of you expecting me to return bearing gifts, I can't bring myself to buy junk. Total elapsed was 8 hours, over 2 and a half sitting in traffic in the van.
It was a wonderful day though with an excellent young woman guide and the only sane driver in Cairo, Thanks Be to Allah for him! We have about a 40 hour day tomorrow as Chris and I will leave the hotel at 6:30 AM to preflight and fuel the aircraft. We will get to Dubai and leave at midnight on the Delta flight and then add another 20 hours and we will be in Orlando! I haven't the heart to total it yet.
Here are some pictures of the gang playing around the pyramids and just one shot of the traffic. If there are two lanes on the road, the cars make 3 to 5 lanes out of that. If it is a 4 lane road, I can't count the rows of cars! May boost up another edition tomorrow night waiting for the plane. Love to all at home, the greatest place on Earth!
May 14 it must be Cairo. Whatever we think about the world we live in and the continuous conflicts mankind can’t get beyond; I am pretty sure one of the weapons is population. Guess what: Europe and America are losing fast! Trust me, I am not suggesting we get in this fight but we do need to figure out how we deal with it in the future. Cairo is in the desert with only the precious Nile for water. The official population is 20,000,000. However, our guide says they really don’t have a clue and it is likely much more. I believe her. Watching people in every form of transportation, all on the same roads (buses, cars, VW microbuses (with 15 people on board), donkey carts and camels, lots of motorcycles) is high entertainment and we had a great driver. He never got ruffled.
The JW Marriot in Cairo is literally and oasis of green in the middle of a high end condo development in the middle of the desert. We eat all of our meals in hotels. Everyone goes to see the pyramids and Sphinx at Giza just 16 kilometers from downtown Cairo. The construction is truly amazing especially when you think the Egyptian pyramids were built between the 6th and 2nd centuries BC. It was barely the Iron Age.
Our guide was very specific about times and what not to do. That is: don’t speak to anyone, don’t take anything from anyone and don’t give anything to anyone and be back at the meeting point no later than the specified time or she’d leave you. Pretty simple, right? We broke all the rules. I was always late because I kept getting the SECRET and very private tunnel tour. Let me tell you, going into a hole in the ground surrounded by litter with a great big Egyptian can get your heart pounding. But, I did get to see and touch newly discovered (2 months) hieroglyphs. The great big Egyptian did not kidnap me and actually spoke very good English and as was everyone we met very helpful and appreciative.
Then, off to the Egyptian Museum. It is worth the trip just to see the artifacts knowing most of the tombs had been robbed in ancient times. Many modern discoveries still are in the hands of the English and French who whisked their finds out of the country before the local authorities could stop it. Or maybe they were complicit. At any rate, give the stuff back. These people are very proud of their history, and it is about all they have. The Tut exhibit is astounding. Consider he was young and one of the poorer kings when he died. What must the rest of the treasure be like! Off to Dubai now. More later, Mercer