July 31, 2011

Egypt, Entry 2

The second of several journal entries from my trip to Egypt in 2004

1/5/04. 9:30 AM.

I thought I was tired when I wrote the last entry. I must have been, as I chose to use this book with the top sheet margin on the bottom. Oh Well.

Yesterday was an *eventful* day.

We met our taxi driver at 9 AM and he drove us to his buddies' stable at the pyramids. We told him that we probably wanted to walk, but he said it was far, and, since he was driving, we ended up at the stables.

We decided to go on horseback to see the sphinx, the sphinx tomb, the 3 big pyramids of Giza and the 6 small pyramids of Giza. We talked him down to 140 Egyptian Pounds (EGP), which was a pretty good price, $25 USD for 2 hours with horses, a guide, and entrance to the small pyramid and sphinx's tomb.

The pyramids were larger than I expected. Galloping through the desert was a blast. Our guide Muhammed was adorable and the photo opportunities on the mountain above the pyramids were much better than those we would have gotten on foot.

In short, it was a great way to start our trip.

Unfortunately, we returned to the hotel in time for me to have a good sized allergy attack from the horses and dust. The pollution doesn't help. I thought it was bad yesterday because my nose burnt with every breath. But this morning, from our balcony, I see that yesterday's haze is only 1/3 of today's brown-grey cloud. It was Sunday yesterday and most of the shops and businesses were closed. I suppose that does make a difference.

After a quick rest at the hotel, R and I walked to the metero, rode to the neighborhood where the Egyptian Student Center was, and got him a youth card. I was *extremely* self-conscious of my open v-neck sweater. Only 3 inches of my neck and upper chest showed. But it was enough to garner stares, comments, and help from an international businessman who blocked me from the hissing on the metro. I quickly realized that I hadn't seen any other women who were showing any skin below their neck.

The travel literature did not adequately prepare me for that reality. Thankfully, R had a windbreaker, which, once I donned, completely changed the reaction I was receiving.

From there, we took the metro to our new hotel, made a reservation, and walked for about an hour and a half downtown, across Gezira, through Zamelek, along the Nile and back to our hotel.

The walk was a great way to get a feel for the city. Once, when we were lost, we asked for directions in English and a nice man, roughly our age, pointed us in the correct direction. Over all, the people are respectful and polite.

With R, I feel very safe. Without him, as this morning in the elevator, I am a target, and a Saudi man felt free to touch my back, arm, etc. Disgusting.

Oh well. At least I have a turtleneck for today's outings. I'm sure the grime in the air will be on my face at the end of the day.

Off to the citadel!

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