Wednesday, February 16, 2005

In Cairo

I have tried over and over again to update this site here in Egypt, but this is the first Internet Cafe that has let me onto the page! I apologize to those of you out there (read: my parents) who have been worried and wondering whether I am dead or alive.

I am alive, feeling more and more so actually--I was pretty sick the first few days I was here, as a German Girl Who Shall Remain Nameless (Luise) gave me a cold to take with me to Egypt to remind me of her. I have managed, however, to have a fantastic time.

How to explain Egypt? Others have tried before, and done better than I possibly could. Parts of it remind me of India--the crowds, the constant horn-honking, the annoying vendors, the smells and colors, the hassle, the exotic nature of it all. But at the same time, it's much more accessible, much more modern in a way. So you have this fairly modern world set up against this ancient, incredible background, a crazy juxtaposition.

We rented horses to go and see the pyramids, and our guide rode us way out into the desert and through a hole in the fence to get in...the result being we paid no entry fees, except into his pocket, which I'm okay with really. We were trotting and cantering towards these great enormous structures that I've seen so often on books, and I was of course having one of my this is my life moments, only it was so cold and windy when the sun went behind the clouds that I actually managed to be in the present rather than removing myself to make my usual mental comments. We went inside the second pyramid, crouching down low all the way into the hot, airless interior, and I found myself frighteningly aware of how many thousands of tons of rock were layered above me, and suddenly trying to remember how often Egypt has earthquakes. Enia kindly remarked that if the pyramids have stood for 4500 years, they most likely were not going to collapse then, but I was not to be comforted. Unforgettable to go in, but a huge relief to get back out again.

After Cairo we took a night train down to Aswan, where we spent the day perusing the Nubian Museun, then drifting about on a Felluca on the Nile while the sun set. It was nice for a change of pace, especially since our next stop was Luxor (ancient Thebes), which has more sights than it is possible to see in weeks, let alone two days. We saw the amazing, enormous temple of Karnak, and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, full of wall paintings that were still in vivid color, showing Ramses being accepted into the afterlife by Osiris, or the goddess Nut among the books of the day and night. It was way too much to take in, and I am full and thick and happy.

Now we're back in Cairo, and tomorrow it's back to Jerusalem. I'm excited to get back, am a bit homesick. Soon I will post a million pictures, I promise.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Reading your blog and your horseback-riding experience through the desert made me think of the first short story in Eggers' newest book, How We Are Hungry. The story is "Another" and is about the experience (fictional or no, not sure) of "rid[ing] through Egypt to be changed by visiting the pyramids; the monumental structures turn out to be disappointing, but riding freely through the desert on a horse provides a momentary release and thrill, although, of course, that can't last forever." Just thought I'd throw that out there--might be fun for you to read since you just experienced it yourself. =)