Friday, June 23, 2017

Serendipity: A Stop-over in Egypt

When I booked our tickets to go to Chicago for Heather's wedding, I knew that we were returning to Nairobi through Cairo but I thought it was just a connection (like when Heather came in December and Michael and Craig in February).  Just before we left for Chicago I noticed that it was not only a connection, but a 25-hour layover!  So I got busy and booked a hotel.  What luck to a have a full day in Cairo!  Our niece, Nancy, and family had lived in Cairo for a couple of years so I contacted her for information about what to see.  And luckily, just like the Nairobi National Park is within Nairobi city limits, the Pyramids of Giza are in Giza, which is right next to Cairo.  A very do-able one day excursion!  How is that for serendipity?!

The Pyramids of Giza are the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only wonder to remain pretty much as it was 5000 years ago.  Well, it's standing anyway, as opposed to the other six wonders which are no longer in existence.  So interesting to think that Mary and Joseph, with baby Jesus, probably saw the pyramids when they moved to Egypt as they fled from King Herod.

The pictures below are from my camera.  LeRon also had a camera and I tried to combine the pictures by looking at each one and trying to decide which was best.  It was like going to the eye doctor:  "Can you see this better, or this?"  Your eyes get blurry and they all look alike.  So in this post, I'll put my pictures of the pyramids and in the next one, I'll put LeRon's.  My pictures have a lot of pictures of us because our guide was forever grabbing my camera to take pictures, which was great. Usually no one knows I was there since I usually take the pictures.  LeRon has taken some really cool pictures of the pyramids so be sure to look at the next post. 

At our hotel, which was attached to the airport, we hired a driver to take us to Giza.  We had wanted to see the pyramids of Giza and also the pyramids at Saquarra, which are older still.  But with it being Ramadan, everything closed at 3 p.m. so we opted for Giza and the Cairo Museum and lunch on the Nile.  This is our first view of Egypt . . . sand-colored everything and palm trees.

We learned that Cairo and the metropolitan area around Cairo has a population of 25 million!!!  The whole country of Canada has about 35 million people. 

We love the mosques with their minarets.  We have seen (and heard) mosques in Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Tanzania, Kenya and now Egypt.  We also love the call to prayer which is heard 5 times a day.  Some muezzins have quite melodic voices and some . . . not so much!

If you click on this picture, you can just barely see, in the very center of the picture, our first view of a pyramid. 

Our driver took us down all kinds of narrow little streets.  Hanging across the streets were silver "icicle-type" things which were decorations for the holy month of Ramadan.

We felt at home here in Cairo.  We see tuk-tuks (3-wheeled motorized vehicles) and donkey-pulled carts in Nairobi too.  Here they are horse-pulled carts, ready to take people to the pyramids.

We stopped at a business to pick up a guide and a horse and cart and of course they wanted us to come in and see their products.  This young man's wife is from Toronto.  He was selling perfumes and medicinal products, the recipes for which were supposedly found in the tombs of the pyramids!  He was a good salesman but I only bought one small bottle of lotus perfume.

There were several camel drivers who wanted us to take camels to the pyramids but . . . it was almost 40 Celsius and I have sciatic pain that won't let me sit astride a camel so thank goodness they also had the horse and carts.  The camel drivers complained that "no one" wanted to ride a camel that day.

Our first view of the second largest pyramid.  You can still see at the top some of the marble that it was faced with originally.   The three large pyramids were faced with limestone, marble, and granite.  When they were built, they were shiny and beautiful.

Our guide (a picture of him will come in the next post) was about our son Michael's age (41) and the guide's name was also Michael.  He was great.  Gave us lots of information and took pictures of us all the time.  I highly recommend him even though I only know that his name is Michael (that's the English version of his name anyway).  Behind us to the right is the Great Pyramid of Cheops, the largest of the 3 large pyramids.  The one on the left is Cheop's son's pyramid which was faced with marble.

I remember studying about the Sphinx in elementary school.  Never thought I would actually see it.  It was huge although it looked small compared to the pyramids.  The sphinx was carved from one stone.  It was a guardian for the pyramids.

And the pyramids were built as tombs for the pharaohs.  The largest pyramid was for Cheops; the next for his son and the next for his grandson.  Cheop's pyramid was once covered with polished limestone.

The second pyramid was once covered with polished marble.  You can still see some on the peak.  The third pyramid was covered with granite.  Originally all three were shiny and bright.

Now here's where our guide gets into the common photography stunts.  Look closely, I am about to touch the pyramid.

Well, almost anyway.

Look again.  I'm touching the top with my finger.  Cool.

LeRon couldn't figure out what I was doing so we'll get him into the act.  Fun!  I tried to kiss the Sphinx but it looked really silly so I'm not including that photo.

The view of the pyramids against the sands of the Sahara in the heat of the day was striking.

Our cart driver couldn't speak English.  So we didn't have much of a conversation with him.

I was so thankful for the cover to keep off the hot Egyptian sun.

Doesn't this say "Sahara" to you?

Here we are with the three pyramids of Giza.  There were also three small pyramids, one for each larger one.  These were called the "Queen's Pyramids."

Close-up of the stones on one of the Queen's pyramids.  I imagine that in its day it was also covered with limestone or marble or granite.  It's all worn away, leaving only the stones.

We are touching 5000-year old history!

We are about to head down into this pyramid.  One of the Queen's pyramids.

Steep track heading into the pyramid.

It wasn't as claustrophobic as we thought it would be.

Here is where the body lay.  It's very hot down here.  Sweat is pouring off me.

Imagine building this in the first place.

Gorgeous carvings covered the walls.

A last look at the Sphinx and the marble pyramid.  So glad we came here!

And of course they take you to a place where they demonstrate the making of papyrus.  It actually was very interesting.

And of course, lots of gorgeous paintings on papyrus.

Knowing how much we love art, you're probably not surprised that we succumbed and bought a couple of papyrus paintings  On this one she is writing the name "LeRon".  My name, "Colleen" is already written on her left.  Not as beautiful as the "Torrie" papyrus that Eric brought home from his trip to Egypt during his semester at the BYU Jerusalem Center.


  1. What an added bonus for you. Hope you didn't melt away too bad. Maybe it won't seem so hot to you back in Narobi. ;)

  2. I'm so glad you got to visit—and it looks like you had the place all to yourself, pretty much. How fun! :)

  3. These are really cool pictures- so glad you had that opportunity! I hope the wedding went well, congratulations to Heather!

  4. What an unforgettable experience for you! (I was going to write a 'cool' experience, but that didn't seem accurate ;-)