This past weekend was my daughter's birthday. We had only been in Cairo for a week and we wanted to do something special. As I sat clinging to my children in the back of a taxi I wondered if this was really a good idea. I made sure I told them that I loved them. If this was going to be it I wanted to make sure that they knew that their mother cared. I kissed them and held them I even whispered a prayer. It might have been the lack of seat belts in the back of the cab, or possibly the breakneck speeds that we were reaching but I felt untethered from the earth.
The kids were pointing and shrieking "There they are! Look mom! It's the pyramids!!!" They had seen them too. We were almost there.
We paid our entry fee, stepped inside, and it all went to hell.
People come at you from all sides wanting to give you a tour, sell you their wares, and take you for a ride (and not just on their camel)... And they don't take no for an answer. They touch you, grab you, and put things in your hand only to demand that you pay for them. They don't let up for a moment.
The only time I felt at peace was when I was inside the pyramid of Khufu. It was thrilling walking up the wooden ramps into the heart of the pyramid. Once I stepped outside, however, the crush of desperation started all over again, the overwhelming smell of camel piss assaulted my nostrils, and I felt powerless once again.
Yeah we walked around, we took some pictures, and we saw the sights. You can even see us smiling in some of the photos... We were just as much part of the show as everything else.
Our taxi ride home was better. Our second driver was great. He spoke excellent English and gave us a wealth of wonderful information about the sights of Egypt. He even stopped the cab so that he could take our picture in front of the Nile. We got out of the car at Road 9 and paid the driver (a quarter the amount of the first ride). We were walking towards the restaurant for a birthday lunch and trying to put a positive spin on a trying day when Paul realizes that we had been robbed. The thieves at the pyramid hadn't just stolen our experience... they had our money as well. Without enough money for lunch we turned for home. I think next time I'll just watch the discovery channel.