As I started yesterday (Monday, 16 January) is was a rather slow start. I must have been extra tired from travel on Sunday. Even though, I got out of bed by 8:00 a.m. (lost an hour in traveling to Cairo) and went down to see about the complimentary breakfast, which was great!
After breakfast, I went to Guest Relations and asked about a tour of the pyramids and get their suggestions. Got a blank look. And then kept explaining what I needed to know. Then took a deep breath and sat there – I guess waiting for her to catch up with what I was asking. Then, she made a phone call. She had in short notice arranged for someone to pick me up at 1:00. She had arranged a private tour and the person hired (Bassem) would arrange everything. Sounded good to me.
This is where faith comes in. I had to have faith that the hotel’s Guest Relations person knew who to call, that that person would be knowledgeable and able to make all of the pieces work together. I said yes when, speaking to him over the phone, he said, “We will not have a fight about money. I’ll see you at 1:00.”
It was a little after 1:00 and the car arrived and I got in – then the car stopped again and someone else got in the car. I smiled and it was the person who I spoke to on the phone, Bassem. He couldn’t come into the resort because of some local regulation. (I didn’t ask questions.)
And onward we went. Along the way (it about a 30 minute drive to the pyramids) we talked about politics, weather, history, and what I wanted to see and do. Just when we saw the pyramids we took a turn into a local backstreet with very narrow streets. Bassem got out of the car and talked with several people, think some money exchanged hands, and then I got out of the car. We decided that I would ride a horse with an experienced guide to the pyramids and that the tour would last about 90 minutes.
After more talking and introductions, I met Hamooda, who brought with him two horses. It has been awhile since getting on a horse and hopefully the horse didn’t know this. In a few minutes we were off, with Hamooda leading my horse. I had a general understanding what we would do and see, but left it to Hamooda to guide the way. Also I received a keffiyeh to wear before we left, which worked out well because I didn’t bring a hat.
We went through a neighborhood back street to enter the pyramid area and Hamooda paid for the entrance. My tour organizer said I wouldn’t have to pay for anything, that my fee to him would cover it all. All the while I was smiling and enjoying the ride and the view. It was almost like being backstage before a performance – you got to see the people in the background doing all of the work to put on the show.
After entering the pyramid area, Hamooda explained what we would do next and continued to do so as we went from one stop to the next. Along the way we got to know more about each other and what I would be interested in seeing and knowing.
Hamooda knew the best places to take pictures, as you can see from the pictures below. I wanted to have a picture of me on a camel and Hamooda made the arrangements.
At one point I heard the Call to Prayer from below and asked that we stop our ride out of respect. Glad we did. What an experience to be on horseback, touring these ancient historical monuments, beautiful weather, good companionship and not a care in the world.
Took some pictures along the way and had fun.
We continued on to the base of the Pyramid of Kufu (or Pyramid of Cheops). Hamooda was able to persuade the officials (who keep people off the pyramids) to let me approach the pyramid and touch it. Hamooda also used this as a photo opportunity.
The size of the pyramids (all of the biggest three) were massive. No comprehension of how they could have been built more than 4,000 years ago. Carving and moving the stones are one thing – another is how they were raised up to each level. Aliens helped the Egyptians?
Had some more pyramid fun with the sun.
We were now way beyond the agreed upon 90 minute tour. I asked if this was okay and Hamooda said it was, so on we went. Our last stop was at the Great Sphinx. While we didn’t get up too close, we got some pictures taken. I had commented that the size of the Sphinx was just about how I imagined. Yes, and knew it was carved from rock rather than built like the pyramids.
The overall area is fairly unplanned. Trails for here to there. Some small buildings no longer used. Not a “Disney” experience where everything is perfect, but shows how all of the human activity and necessity created what we see today. It truly “is what it is” and to be enjoyed just as we find it.
Took a video of the panorama of the pyramid area.
Took some pictures of the “backlot” of the pyramid area as we returned to our starting point.
After we got back to our tour leader, we took more pictures and I couldn’t say how much I enjoyed the tour with Hamooda and what it meant to me. After saying our goodbyes we left to return to the hotel.
Driving back to hotel
Along the way back to the hotel, I needed to stop by a cash machine in order to pay Bassem. He stood guard, with arms crossed, while I made the withdraw. I really appreciated the humor – didn’t take him long to figure out what I thought was funny.
At last, they returned me in one piece to my hotel. In a short time we really got to know each other. Bassem asked for my phone number so we could stay in contact. Hamooda and I are now Facebook friends.
When I got back to my room I took a nap, then went down for dinner. I’m going to gain weight if I get two full meals each day. Generally, I have a small breakfast and lunch, then something a little more for dinner so I don’t snack too much in the evening.
Housekeeping provided me with their version of the pyramids.
Farid, who I sat next to on the plane yesterday, was unable to meet up with me as planned. Maybe we will meet up tomorrow. I’d like to see the pyramids lit up at night.