Tony and I had a marathon day yesterday encompassing several different major ancient Egyptian sites around the Giza area. We had organized the trip the night before, a story in itself...so here goes: On Saturday we sat down for after-dinner tea and communal sheesha with two fellow hostellers (both Aussies) at a local shop not far from the hostel. As four Westerners you certainly draw a fair amount of attention from seemingly every Egyptian on the street, attempting to sell you on just about anything under the sun, but usually some guided tour around the Cairo area. One Egyptian next to us started chatting about how he understands how we get sick of getting touted at every possible moment, and his command of English was also substantially better than most. Cliche as it sounds, his name was Aladdin. As it turns out, he's an Arabic teacher back in the States (Marquette University in Wisconsin), is part owner of the sheesha bar we were sitting at, and is home for his daughter's wedding. Aladdin was also a pretty damn good salesman, because by the end of a long conversation with lots of laughs and some free rounds of tea, we had committed to his friend as our taxi for our Sunday. Just how things work here in Egypt.
The day started at the relatively obscure pyramids of Dashur, which for my part was one of the hihglights of the trip. A bit off the beaten path (hired taxi or tour is really the only way to get there), we were able to enjoy these two pyramids with less than 20 other people around, quite amazing compared to the thousands that descend upon the more well-known Giza complex daily about 15 miles away. Also while deep inside the Dashur pyramids the lighting system decided to fail for several minutes--quite an eerie feeling and fortunately Tony's trusty lighter showed the way. The ruins of Memphis and Saqqara were also impressive in their own right, but the Giza plateau earned it's reputation and stole the show. I rode a camel and Tony a horse for some amazing views of the Pyramids and spent an hour or two sipping tea in the desert at a Bedouin camp. We then made our way back into Giza and watched the sunset over a local rooftop. We also caught the beginning of the sound and light show conducted every night with the Sphinx himself as the MC.
Today has been a relatively relaxing day, with a second failed attempt at acquiring the package at the post office. We're a bit saddle sore from our time at Giza (and as someone who has ridden horses a few times before, I can assure you a camel ride is substantially less pleasant) but looking forward to a short foray into the white and black deserts of the Western Oases tomorrow for an overnight trip. We plan to be back in the Cario area Wednesday afternoon.