Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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Located a short distance out of Cairo is the incredible complex collectively known as "the pyramids". We (a South African guy I meet at the airport and I) were taken to the pyramids, as well as other select Cairo destinations (not really selected by us, mind you), by Achmed the taxi driver. The taxi was fast and had a blazing horn, which was in constant operation.
Driving through Cairo is only slightly less dangerous than actually walking, as the roads are absolutely insane. Were you to point at the game Frogger and say "the cars are the alligators, and the people, frogs", you'd only be inaccurate in that the logs actually stay in their lanes. Cairo traffic, like traffic in the rest of Egypt, is as chaotic as I can possibly imagine. It's hard to say how many lanes the roads have as cars just go wherever they can fit, but I'd say you can fit four or five cars across on some of the big roads. And to make things more interesting, in intersections cars make left and right turns from any of the five lanes. Toss in some donkey-pulled carts and a city full of pedestrians that literally have no option but to cross during full traffic (there are no cross walks or overpasses or underpasses for people), as well as drivers that insist on not using their headlights even at night (this is not an exaggeration), and it's a lot of fun. To my utter surprise, however, I did not witness a single accident, not even a fender-bender.
Back at the pyramids, we're surprised to find ourselves dropped off not at the pyramids proper, but actually at a stall where we are told to rent horses. In all fairness, were I asked whether or not I wanted to rent a horse, I probably would have said yes. However, the horses were extremely expensive for an hour and a half trip, and I hadn't yet built up the staunch bargaining skills to get a more reasonable price. Anyway, we board our horses and head out into the intense desert heat, led by some extremely shady fellow on horseback whose name I did not catch.
Our first stop is the Sphinx, as pictured. Now, I'm not sure if it's some sort of conspiracy, but somehow I thought it was bigger, and everyone I spoke with also had the same misconception. Note how in my picture the Sphinx's head is framed with the pyramid in the background, almost as if they're of a comparable scale. Well, they're not, at all. The Sphinx's as a whole is perhaps thirty feet tall, with the head being maybe 10', tops. Were I to sit on the top, my feet might almost dangle in front of its eyes.
After the Sphinx and its attached temple, we head to the pyramids. These, I'm happy to report, are every bit as big as expected. It's interesting seeing these after so recently seeing the Mayan pyramids a hemisphere away, as they both have incredibly precise stonework on such a large scale. Granted, the Egyptian pyramids have a couple millennia more wear-n-tear than those in the Yucatan, but they've stood up to time quite well. The most impressive craftsmanship is on the temple that was once covered with granite (it looks like it's wearing a hat), though sadly generations of Egyptians past decided that they wanted the fine granite work more than the Pharaohs resting inside.
We circle around behind the pyramids to a spot in the desert with a stunning panorama of the complex, take some pictures, and head back. Of interest on the way back (other than the high-speed gallop across the burning sands, something that everyone must try) was when we were stopped in the middle of said burning sands and instructed that now was the time we give him tips. "Any amount is fine...", of course, our amount was not fine, and he demanded more. Thankfully we started to learn the power of "no", and eventually convinced him to take us back (as suddenly my horse refused to budge - I think they're in cahoots).

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