We arrive at dawn in the busy Egyptian city of Port Said. With no time to waste we all had to be on a waiting coach at 7am to start the 3hour road journey to Cairo where our first stop at the pyramids was to be.
With a population of over 80 million packed into only 5% of the land mass it is an extremely busy place and travelling through is with caution.
We had to form a convoy with other buses with an armed military escort at each end of the convoy. As well as this Police blocked all major intersections along the 3 hour drive so we didn’t have to stop and break the convoy. The military presence is everywhere you look and for the most part it appeared to be quite a poor area.
Nearly all buildings are unfinished as taxes become payable only when they are completed. The litter and garbage is unbelievable. It is piled high in streets and alleyways and stretches all throughout the desert to Cairo. Women on donkeys scoured the edges of the highway sifting through the rubbish for cardboard any other materials they can use.
The pyramids are something to behold and you really can’t appreciate the scale of them until you have stood next to them. Louise, Johanna & Alison were able to go inside a chamber underneath one of the pyramids. We were pre warned that you almost have to crawl down a long narrow one way passage to reach the chamber and this was all Luke needed to hear to stay above ground while they all went down.
These pyramids were built over 2000 years BC not by slaves but by farmers and craftsmen who needed work during the flood seasons.
Not far from the great pyramids is the Sphinx which guards the tomb of the Pharaoh of Chephren. This huge sculpture was carved from one giant piece of rock and the skill in maneuvering and placing such massive stones is impressive.
As much as the amazing pyramids and surroundings demand your attention there is literally no relief from the constant barrage of Egyptians trying to sell you souveneers. They open your door when you arrive and follow you to your seat on the bus when you leave.
Luke was quite fluent in some Arabic by the end of the day. La aa shukran translates to no thank you. It is even more effective if you raise your hand as you say it. Despite their persistence it was fun haggling over a few dollars for a couple of pens or post cards. Johanna and Alison weren’t very keen on the camel riders who literally grabbed their arms to try and drag them into photos with them. They did pose for one under protest. After a very busy day we stopped for a great meal before making the long journey back that night.