Pals from Sudan
As we sit out here at a busy outdoor Cairo café, writing our blog, smoking our hookah and taking in the sights and sounds of the city (population 20 Million) its hard to realize all that has transpired over the last 10 days. The city heaves with BMW driving business men, shuffling past robed mystics that wouldn’t seem out of place during biblical times. Fully covered burkah wearing women stroll past high-heeled, make up strewn fashionista’s without batting a golden glittered eye-lash. All to the acrid stench of cat-piss, dollar store perfume and butchered animals.
Eyebrows were raised when we stumbled onto an obscene pool of fresh blood spilling over the side walk. Was this the sight of a heinous crime? No! In fact it was a 2000 lb semi-decapitated bovine being heaved into a 1500 lb truck in downtown Cairo by a team of blood spattered Egyptians. How this partially butchered cow got into this predicament still remains unanswered.
Its been an action packed 10 days since arriving in Egypt. It all began after a fairly uneventful ferry ride from Aqaba, Jordan to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Our first destination was Dahab; the chill out capital of the planet. When we arrived here, the time seems to have stopped, it felt like it was 4:20 all day and all night. Within minutes of arriving we met a Canadian-Egyptian named Amir who made us feel right at home, introducing us to the staff of one particular restaurant
This is the kind of place you see in movies where you lounge around on pillows, smoke shisha, drink $3 bottles of rum and read books, all taking place right next to the red sea shore. With the temperature averaging 28 degrees, and a cool ocean breeze, this place is an absolute nirvana. It’s quite common for people to extend their trip from a few days to a few years. Plus, it’s a diving mecca. Some of the best diving in the world is here, and Dan did 4 spectacular dives for $120. Tom floated endlessly in the warm waves. We got along great with the staff of our favourite restaurant. We spent some quality time with our new friends and after the restaurant closed, went to their house until 4 am drinking and shooting the shit as only the Egyptians know how. 6 days of swimming, reading, lounging around and generally chilling out at a place where the average meal was $3, and we were ready to depart for Cairo.
The Great Pyramid, Khufu's Personal Tomb
Cairo was a serious change of pace from laid back Dahab. We ended up in a sweet room with a 3rd floor balcony overlooking downtown Cairo for $10/night. We went with our Japanese friends Kyohei and Tsunemi to check out the Pyramids of Giza on the first day. As cheesy as it sounds, you cant describe the pyramids with words. Even after knowing what the pyramids were all about, seeing them and experiencing them in person was mind-blowing at the very least. The realization that the pyramids are made of over 3 million blocks, each one averaging 5000 lbs is a humbling thought. They were the tallest man-made structures until the Eiffel tower was built 4000 years later. The light and sound show with the 1970’s sci-fi soundtrack at night adds to the whole experience and is a definite must for anyone visiting. Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Caesar, Cleopatra and countless others stood in awe at these 5000 year old monuments
An Egyptian offered to take us after hours to see some special places amongst the pyramids, only known to locals. Without thinking too much, this seemed like a great opportunity. We snuck into the site with our new friendwhere we scuttled about the ruins trying to avoid the camel mounted police. We got caught and had to bribe first, a set of two cops. We then proceeded to be led into an underground tomb where the site security caught us and we then had to pay him off as well. He was a shifty looking bugger who had eyes pointing in two different directions. We wouldn’t have trusted him with our hat. Going deeper underground we finally reached the sarcophagus of an actual pharaoh. It was an amazing sight, and we shamelessly jumped inside and had a look at all the heiroglyphics. Upon leaving the site, our guides got into a scuffle with a different set of police who wouldn’t let us out of the site and were requesting our passports and tickets. A nearby shop owner got us out of our bind when we agreed to visit his perfume shop. The whole fiasco ended up costing us $4, significantly bargained down from the $50 asking price.
The next day, Tom visited the Museum of Egypt while Dan stayed behind. The museum is over 100 years old itself and is bursting at the seams with unbelievable amounts of treasures and artifacts. By far, the most unforgettable thing Tom witnessed was the actual mummies of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. It was incredible to see the curly white hair of Ramses the Second, crooked finger nails, teeth, eye lashes and all. Staring into the face of a 5000 year old Pharoah is a experience that burns itself into your mind. They were so well preserved, Tom feels like he could recognize them if they were to walk by on the street. Tomorrow morning at 5 am we depart for Aswan in the south.