Friday, March 11, 2011

The Pyramids of Giza: Even Older Than Dave

It was Dave's 30th birthday and he was moaning about being elderly. So, as a special birthday treat and to make him feel young again, I took him to see some truly old shit.  The pyramids.

An old-looking photo of old people (not me & Dave,
thank you very much)
, going to see the old pyramids of Giza in an old cart.
As a nod to the symbolic progression of time, and to show Dave that some things (cheese, fine wine, pyramids, presumably Dave), get better with age, we started with the oldest pyramids of Saqqara, proceeded to the more recent pyramids of Dahshur, and as the grand finale, visited the great - and really only toddler-aged, in pyramids years - pyramids of Giza.
The Step Pyramids of Saqqara

The Pyramid of Djoser was built around the 27th century BC.  It's nicknamed the Step Pyramid because, well, duh.  As it is covered in scaffolding and you're not allowed to go inside, there wasn't too much, to us, that was super interesting other than its crazy old age.

Meshkovs, Step Pyramid, scaffolding
The Pyramids of Dahshur
The necropolis of Dahshur contains a number of interesting pyramids.  The Bent Pyramid (obviously named) is thought to represent a transitional period between the stepped pyramids such as the one at Saqqara and the smooth pyramids.  The Red Pyramid is thought to be the first smooth-sided pyramid.   They were constructed around the 26th century BC.

Jesse jumps for joy at the Bent Pyramid.
Certainly one of the coolest things about the pyramids at Dahshur is that you can go inside!  Armed with only a flashlight, two cameras, and lots of baksheesh we made our way down a steep, narrow, low-ceilinged passageway and into a series of eerie tombs deep within the walls of the pyramid.  The air was thick with the noxious smell of whatever chemicals are being used in the restoration process, and it was actually kind of difficult to breathe.

The narrow, steep entrance passageway.
Also the exit passageway, although there is really no exit until you pay up your baksheesh.
Deep inside the tomb.  Eek!
The Pyramids of Giza

After a quick stop at a falafel stand and a not-so-quick stop at a rug factory where we watched child-laborers knot rugs, it was time for the grand finale - the Pyramids of Giza.

Dave and his camel friend contemplate getting older while chewing their cud
We had heard people say things like, "it was smaller than I expected" (that's what she said) or, "it wasn't as impressive as I thought it would be" (that's what she said), but we both thought that the pyramids were spectacular (that's what she said?). 

Mounted police officer taking a snooze on the job.

The big pyramid (for the pharoah), together with the smaller pyramids constructed for his wife and daughters
Having already been inside the Dahshur pyramids, we declined the opportunity to pay an entrance fee to do the same at Giza. We did, however, hire a camel for a two minute ride - up, take some photos, and down.  The camel owners were flummoxed.  How could we not want a long expensive camel ride around the pyramids complex?

Ugh, matchy matchy.  It makes me nauseous.
The Sphinx was cool, but not quite as impressive as the pyramids - smaller than I had expected.

The money shot.
But we happily entertained ourselves as a young boy authoritatively took our camera and professionally directed us into a series of "funny" Sphinx poses. ("You: there.  Hand: there. Other hand: go there. More left").

The kid snatched these sunnies out of some lady's hand, insisting that we needed them for our photo shoot.
It was a long, wonderful, exhausting day - even more exhausting for Dave (who was now 30 and old) than for Jesse (who was, after all, still in her 20s).

Happy birthday Davey!!!

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