the pyramids

Thursday, 15 August 2013

as soon as we arrived in cairo, we dropped our luggage and met up with mai, one of the convoy members from jordan. she studies at the american university of cairo. her dad is a palestinian poet and novelist. we were very excited to see her although she had only left gaza two days earlier than us, taking her chances while the border was open. 

she took us for a picturesque walk around the old market pointed now and then her favourite place around cairo including a working class pub, which only serves beer and chips. we walked through busy alleyways of the market and had tea and shisha in an old coffee house. the place was buzzing with life. we sat in a small room at the back of the cafe. the walls were decorated with sculpted dark wooden panels and pictures of famous people who had visited the place where displayed in every corner. 

street-sellers of all ages constantly approached us, one after another, trying to get us to buy tissues, key holders, bubble blowers, carpets and leather wallets; max seemed like their favourite target, no bothering to try with any of us apart from him. 

tired of the journey but determined to make the most of our short time in cairo, we crashed into bed as soon as we got back to the hotel.

the next morning, we woke up early and headed for the pyramids. at eight o'clock, the sun was already shining high and hot. we were the only tourists there. 
due to the demonstrations in cairo, most western governments advised not to travel to egypt. i never thought we would be able to have the whole place for ourselves. the pyramids appeared smaller than i imagined although i still admire the immensity of the work that was accomplished there. 

the sphinx facing the city kept a close eye on its every move, looking forward to a better future for its people as the country faced a second revolution. laying for centuries on these sand dunes, guarding the pyramids, it watched cairo evolve to become a sprawling monster, home to nine million people. 

the horizon offered a spectacle of contrasts of one of the most ancient civilisation in the world: on one side, displaying the relentless transformation of one of the largest cities in the world, cradle of culture; while on the other, unchanged sand dunes and desert disappear under a burning sun. there are the two faces of egypt.

we decided to go back to the hotel afterwards for a bit of breakfast and a most needed afternoon nap.











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