Visiting the pyramids was another lifelong dream of mine. I always found the history of Egypt fascinating. The ancient Egyptians put so much energy and thought into the tombs of Pharaohs while they were alive. In pictures the Pyramids were so massive and the stones so heavy.
I have to be honest though, visiting the pyramids was a little disappointing. Through the years of traveling, I have come to appreciate nature and beautiful scenery compared to man made structures that become heavily trafficked tourist destinations. I have been to several “wonders of the world” and appreciated then but the price of visiting a “famous” tourist destination is too high for me. There is always somebody trying to rip you off or steal from you. The attitude of workers and tour guides are the same as an employee working at a DMV. There are huge crowds of tourists and many individual beggars. Maybe in the past, the magic of the site put blinders on me and allowed to focus on the attraction rather than the negative aspects surrounding it.
Disappointment only comes when expectations aren’t met. My expectations for the pyramids of giza was to explore then on a camel and learn about the history not often told about them. Maybe I would be able to go inside one of them and visit a secret tunnel to an unexplored room. The latter was a childhood fantasy that came about after watching too many Indiana Jones movies. My guide was a nice guy that didn’t speak much but more or less got the job done. He took me to the sites and took pictures of me and that was it. He never once explained the history or give any other information. Even when I asked him questions about the history, he shrugged and said he wasn’t sure. Throughout the day I felt similar vibes from both the camel and guide, they both didn’t want to be there.
As I was riding the camel throughout the pyramids, I noticed the harassment by the vendors and the most aggressive selling tacts I have ever seen. An Asian couple were taking pictures of a pyramid when 3 vendors approached and tried to sell them toy camel and other pyramid souvenirs. After refusing three times, the couple turned around to shield the badgering. One of the vendors put the toy camel on the man’s backpack and shouted saying he has to pay now. The guy tried to give the camel back but the vendor refused the camel and insisted on being payed. The man put the camel on the floor and walked away. Another girl refused a different vendor and started to run away from a crowd of 5 vendors approaching. They started to run after her laughing and smiling at eachother while the girl seemed utterly distressed. Such Instances occurred throughout the day and got me tired just watching. My guide warded off anyone who even attempted to come near.
Afterwards I had the option to go into larger of the three pyramids.. There was a tunnel that led to the tomb to the middle. As I entered the barren room, a man approached me asking if I spoke spanish, french, russian, english etc.. I told him english and he started rambling some facts about the pyramids such as height, width and how old. After his thirty second spiel, I asked him other questions about the pyramid. His blank face was an obvious indication of his lack of english comprehension. He then stated to say the same memorized information again and held out his hand for money. I politely declined and wandered around the twenty by thirty foot size room. As I gazed into the actual tomb of where the body would been placed, the man walked up to me and asked for money again. Without acknowledging him, I walked by him and exited through the tunnel.
Just when I thought the hassling was over, a man approached me and put a red and white middle eastern headdress on me. I refused but my guide signaled that it was ok as if the guy could be trusted. I said I didn’t have any money to give but he insisted and took three pictures of me.I felt so cheap and used because of the poses he made me do. It seemed so scripted and cheesy. When he handed me the camera, he asked for the equivalent of $5. My guide then stepped in and said I wasn’t paying him and the man left.
To get some excitement, I asked my guide if I could climb up the pyramid and he take a picture. He agreed not knowing that I wanted to climb to the top. With the guards close by, I started climbing up the chest high stone blocks. I was on a mission to go as high as I could before the guards yelled at me. My sandals slipped on the sandy surface and my shirt got dirty. Just when I was about fifty feet high, four guards came yelling and blowing their whistles for me to get down. I Slowly made my way down and I realized I got pretty high up. The view was beautiful.
The views and sights were amazing. It’s a shame that the experience was tainted by harassment and overflow of tourists. I often remind myself of a quote in with experiences like this, “Don’t focus on the sewer in Paris.” There were so many other great experiences throughout the day and it’s best not to define the experience with the negative ones.
After we left the pyramids, my guide took me to eat kosher. Kosher is a pasta with tomato sauce and spices. By the time I ate it, I was famished so it was delicious but only in the moment.