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Day 232 – ‘Bombing’ The Pyramids

11th May 2012


We’d been casually delaying our trip to the pyramids given that every day we were able to see them from afar anyway. But no trip to Egypt would be complete without a visit to the famous tombs. We arrived early as we didn’t want to lose out on a ticket that allowed us to enter the mighty Pyramid of Cheops.

Up close the pyramids were a spectacle. They were immense, their silhouette outlined in a billion minds and it would seem everyone from Napoleon through the British Army and two million tourists a year (pre-revolution) had visited these huge stone tombs. Up close they’re too big to appear three dimensional; walls of rugged sand blown stone blocks, each four or five foot high, disappear towards the sky as your mind tells your body not to try and climb them. (Napoleon climbed them.) These huge organised piles of stone have financed an entire world that lives around them; drinks and snacks sellers, tissue sellers, postcards, head scarves, statues, guides, horse and camel owners providing transport and photo opportunities who offer ever decreasing ‘best prices’ as tourists walk by.

The latter was sad to see. So many animals were without work and whilst some looked the healthier for it; others looked less so. We’d decided to walk and take our time and so carriages would have to wait. Our eagerness had been masked with a feigned nonchalance which had made Somers’ victory of being first in the queue all the sweeter. The Indian tour guide with a hundred and thirty-five thousand followers; each woman with a digital SLR camera and each man with HD video recorder (for us it was vice versa) would have to wait. I’d parked Redvers in the first car park I’d come across whilst Laura was acquiring tickets. Since we were the first through the gates we headed straight for the pyramids of Cheops and went inside. The first narrow tunnel led to a second that climbed upwards, it was a very narrow tunnel at that; as we crouched, our backs rubbed along the wall above and our heads were lowered towards our knees. We were the first in and much to our entertainment found that there was a nine or ten second echo. The pyramid was empty bar for the remains of the stone sarcophagus and an air conditioning unit that’s been smashed into place next to one of the original air shafts. Apparently there was another chamber in which they have found a secret door. Archaeologists have passed fibre optic cameras through the door to reveal an even more secret door and behind that well they won’t tell us, but the guidebook said the discovery would be very exciting. For now we were alone, in a small and narrow tunnel inside a big and empty pyramid.

Once inside the pyramids compound we’d realised that actually, lots of cars were allowed in and tourists were driving all over the site. Accordingly I ran back to get Redvers so that we could get him in and get some close up pictures in front of the Sphinx and the Pyramids. What we hadn’t reckoned on was the security. I pulled over to have Redvers searched and the security guard told me that the diesel in the roof top jerry cans could be used to make a bomb. My smile turned to a grimace when I realised he was serious and I told him to sit down and have a cup of tea whilst I poured the fuel into Redvers’ tank. But he had a look in his eye that would find a reason to say no and he asked to see what was in the back. The beaten up gas cylinder was of course another bomb. Three and half kilograms of butane was just about enough to give two people a third degree burn. I offered to make his tea on the stove to prove it was a standard cylinder. But he didn’t look like he wanted tea much so I asked why he didn’t arrest me for possession of two bombs. He smiled and told me that they weren’t real bombs. He finished with a flourish by telling me I’d been parked illegally and would have to park outside the gates if I wanted to go back in.

We found the Sphinx on foot; the nose less, chinless, human headed lion who has endured bullets from the target practice of the Mamlukes and Napoleons soldiers as well as four and a half thousand years of sand blasting from the desert winds. It has been a show of power for the pharaohs that commissioned it, a symbol of British Military pride after their victories in Egypt, (the soldiers that fell at the defeat at Isandlwana in Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa wore golden sphinxes on their lapels.) It was also the British that took the Sphinx’s chin for the British Museum. We like everyone else spent around an hour posing and ‘kissing’ the sphinx, cuddling it, riding it, making it ‘wear’ our sunglasses and generally doing all we could to look stupid before it. We were bloody good at it too.

Posted by ibeamish 04:29 Archived in Egypt

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