Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pyramids and Camels, but Mostly Camels

OK so after writing this, it appears it is longer than your standard blog post, but believe me each word is necessary for the full effect of the story. So, while I realize only Mom and Leslie will read this in one sitting, maybe some of you lesser Adam-fans can break it up into chunks? Sorry!

Today I dropped hundreds of dollars, got baked, became intimate with a minor, and wasn't even at the Delta Chi house. Instead, I was riding a camel to the Pyramids. The loss of hundreds of dollars wasn't too bad, since it was in Egyptian money and it came out to be like $50 American. And I got baked in the everyone-told-me-to-wear-more-sunscreen-but-I-didn't sense. And the minor was a sprightly 15-year-old boy named Rugul who I shared a camel with for an uncomfortable amount of time (really any amount of time is an uncomfortable amount of time to be riding double on a camel).

To take a step back, the girls (Emily, Maddie, and Zoya) I am traveling with really don't waste time jumping into things. I linked their names to their blogs to make fact checking my stories easier for everyone. So read their blogs for more insightful and accurate but less entertaining blog posts. Zoya isn't trendy or self-centered enough to get a blog yet, but I expect the title to be something like In Love in Cairo, details to follow.

After a rather long flight, we stumbled through customs, and found the van the hotel sent for us. Everything that has been said about Cairo roads is true, and for me to summarize them here would be almost cliche. Which I know normally doesn't stop me, but this post is long enough as is.

We got up rul early and had a delightful breakfast. The hotel we're staying at is in downtown Cairo and is run by a couple of Swiss ladies. It reminds me of that one scene from Apocalypse Now. You know, that one. We decided not to wait for the Pyrimads and hopped on the metro to Giza. You could tell we weren't in DC anymore because all the metro escalators were functioning and people acted like human beings. After getting off at Giza, taxi drivers ran up to us shouting prices. We are preetty much the easiest people in the world to convince, so whoever spoke to us last had us. That's when a nice young man came up and told us to take the bus, and he was going our way! We ended up taking a cab (the man was persistant!) and the young man, Omar, came with us. My tan must have climaxed as Mido, the cab driver, insisted on referring to me as President Obama. But thats as political as this blog gets, if you want to hear more on those subjects please refer to Joe Wenner's blog. Omar was really nice and spoke fluent English, and even paid for our taxi ride. We were then unceremoniously dropped off in this little store, where after five minutes of listening (thank god Omar came with us), I gathered we were negotiating for camels. Soon enough we had rented four camels and two guides, one of whom was Rugul, the boy I would get to know quite well in the next three hours. Omar didn't want to go, and now I know why, but he said he would wait for us and that we should go to his house tonight to break fast. Having not said no once this trip thus far, this was no time to break tradition.

I'd like to meet the first man to ride a camel. It takes an interesting mind to look at one and think, "I want to sit on that." Camels are much taller in person, like at least twice as tall as a horse. Or maybe I just think horses are smaller than they actually are too. My guide told me my camel was a great guy, and the camel was nice and all, but he wasn't funny or anything. When the camel first stood up I thought I was going to die. When he kneeled down I thought I was going to die. In between I was thinking of the embarrassment that would follow when I died falling off a camel on my first day in Egypt.

We were making our way to the first pyramid when Rugul decides he wants to ride double. Without warning he got my camel to kneel down and then jumped into the saddle in front of me. Why didn't you bring your own camel, bro! So, as the camel stood up, I was straddling Rugul with the knowledge my life depended on it. It was too hot for me and Rugul to be glued together by sweat and the camel's gait made for uncomfortable rubbing. Don't guys get stoned to death for this kind of thing over here? For a variety of reasons, I let go of Rugul and spent the next two hours clinging to the back hump of the camel with every muscle in my body.

We took a variety of pictures with a disappointing Sphinx and a pyramid or two. I hate to make it sound like I didn't have fun/am the biggest wuss in the world, but it's really hard to appreciate the last remaining ancient wonder of the world when you are faced with the prospect of getting back on that camel. Here's one thing I picked up: One of the pyramids has a gash in it from where Saladin's son tried to deconstruct it. No one wants to live in the shadow of his father, but this kid thought that knocking over a pile of rearranged stones would compare to beating back the crusades? I'd hate to be the guy that told him they couldn't even do that. Oh, this one Egyptian teenager did offer me 500 MILLION camels for Zoya! Little did he know that camels are my second least favorite form of currency, only losing to the Looney (Canada, if you're reading this, grow up).

After the long trek back to civilization Omar had a car waiting for us, along with his best friend Sayed who happened to be a tourism guide! Talk about luck. I grew skeptical of Omar and his friendliness, but still accepted a ride to the metro. The girls have no fear and promised we'd be back at five to break the fast of Ramadan when the sun went down. When we got back Sayed drove us to Omar's, which turned out to be more of Sayed's, who turned out to be Omar's half brother and he had a full family. The meal was good and Sayed and Omar are the nicest people you could ever meet. Their motives are still unclear, except for the fact that Omar made it pretty apparent he wants to marry Zoya. Zoya has a story ready that she's already engaged and is even wearing a ring to prove it. Ah, love!

Now we're back and exhausted, but not too exhausted I couldn't write this monster of a blog post. I'm sure this day was exceptional in the things to talk about, so don't think this is an everyday occurance.

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