Saturday, September 20, 2008

Walk like an Egyptian

Day 2. 500 to go.

We spent Day Two at the Pyramids in Giza, which are both majestic and subtle. In a barren desert, with no buildings to compare relative size, the enormity of the pyramids is hard to grasp. Standing next to the pyramids, you lose all concept of space, distance and size.

Laurel and I rode camels across the sands, reaching a dune plateau overlooking all 9 pyramids: the 6 pyramids of Giza and 3 to the east. We pause to gaze over the stark landscape, then turn our camels in the direction of the Sphinx. I think of the empty desert the Sphinx used to look upon; how that space has now become a dense cluster of cement high-rises thick with smog and soot.

We dismount our camels by the Sphinx. Our legs are sore from riding. “You’ll be walking like an Egyptian,” says our camel guide Samir.

Back in Giza, Laurel befriends an Egyptian perfume-seller, Ismael, who is about to go to 1 out of his 4 homes to have dinner with 1 out of his 4 wives.

Laurel tells him we’ve love to experience breaking a daily Ramadan fast with a Muslim family; he invites us into his living room, where we recite the first verse of the Koran while breaking fast with sweet plum-colored juice. One of his wives cooks us the best falafel we’ve ever tasted.

We pile back of the street, bellies full, smoke a hookah on the sidewalk, drink a cup of tea, and catch a bus back to Cairo.