a funny thing happened on the way to the pyramids; and, how the terrorists stole christmas
I wasn’t planning on going to the pyramids today. Then, some guy told me the Egyptian museum was closed (which later turned out to probably not be true), and showed me how to get there on the Metro/in a taxi. (Also, he bought me some yansoon, which is a yellow hot drink that tastes sort of like licorice, because that’s supposed to be good to stop a cough. Also, that is hilarious because in my Egyptian Arabic class last semester we had to go over what the hell it was at least four times. “What is yansoon?” “Anise.” “What is anise?” “It’s this… yellow stuff.”)
The Metro in Cairo is actually really nice. It is cleaner and less sketchy than New York. (Also WAY cheaper, obviously–a ticket anywhere is only 1EGP, which is about 17 cents.) It was pretty hard to find the pyramids from the Giza stop, though–I would have gotten completely lost on my own. BUT. They were awesome. I splurged (relative term–I’m sure the people on bus tours paid way more than I did, but I don’t plan on spending that much money in one place again) for the two-and-a-half hour camel ride in the desert behind the pyramids. My guide, Solomon was awesome. I got to practice my 3amiyya with him, so he decided that he liked me very quickly. I overtipped him, but it was still worth it. Cool pictures.
Also, there are apparently actually nine pyramids at Giza! Who knew? (Not me.) The six smaller ones are for the pharaohs’ wives/children, so obviously no one cares about THEM. Sigh. The big ones were really impressive, though. And the sphinx! I mean, it’s the SPHINX, of course it was awesome. On the whole, though, I’m not sure the pyramids at Giza in general are worth the hype they get. (By which I mean: Petra was cooler.) I did buy some souvenirs, though! Which some of you reading this will receive as Christmas gifts next year. PLANNING AHEAD FTW.
After that whole adventure, I headed over to Coptic Cairo, which was weirdly quiet considering that it’s Christmas day. The Coptic community is obviously REALLY shaken by the Alexandria attack–as they should be. It was unnerving. (See: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/01/20111704759563917.html) As one of the girls in my hostel dorm put it: “It’s like they cancelled Christmas.” They held Mass and everything, obviously, but other than that it was very quiet, and the security there was more brusque than I’ve encountered elsewhere in Cairo.
Still, the churches were gorgeous, and the icons in the Coptic Museum were fabulous. There was one of Saint Barbara, who we learned about in Church History senior year! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Barbara) It showed her three-windowed tower in the background, and I felt smart for knowing what that meant! Awesome.
I got horribly horribly lost trying to find my way back to the hostel (STORY OF MY LIFE), but it worked out all right because these nice people helped me (story of my life: the sequel).
Also, I am starting a list of all the horrible pick-up lines I hear while I’m in Egypt. I’m not going to give them away yet, but I’ve definitely got my first entry on the list. GET EXCITED.
Tea count for the day: three (four if you count the yansoon)
Tomorrow: hoping to hit up the Egyptian Museum and possibly some of Islamic Cairo before heading to Alexandria!