"" Writer's Wanderings: The Sphinx and The Nile

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Sphinx and The Nile

Our guide told us that many believe the pyramids were built with slave labor. She said that wasn’t true, that there was a chief engineer and there were skilled builders. Some cut the stones, some moved them and placed them. Many of those builders actually had small burial places near the pyramids. Okay, but where was the Sphinx? The pictures I’d always seen showed it next to the pyramids. We had boarded the bus to go to see it. Was it that far?

Actually what appears in many pictures to be flat ground where the pyramids and Sphinx are located is really an area of plateaus. The plateaus on which the pyramids sit are higher than the Sphinx so it sits almost in a little valley but just beneath the pyramids.

As we drove by, the guide said now was the time to get a really good shot of the Sphinx with the pyramids behind. I almost didn’t get the shot out the bus window because I thought we would be walking in front of it. Thankfully I took a couple of shots with my phone because we never got that angle back. I pitied those on the other side of the bus who didn’t have time to get up to come to our side to get the shot.

Temple of mummification

Next to the Sphinx is the temple of mummification. I’m sure it has a proper name but I don’t know it. We stood inside several columns with stone mantels laid across them and tried to listen to the guide who talked about how bodies were mummified. I lost interest in the heat. There was little breeze and the space was a bit confining. The most I got out of it was from another guide who was talking to his group about a table that would have been in the center where the group was standing and there the procedure would have taken place. I figured if I really got interested or Bob decided he wanted to be mummified, I’d find the information elsewhere.

The space around the Sphinx where we were was really crowded. We took a couple of pictures and then walked away a bit. There was no going back to the bus without our guide since wherever he was, it wasn’t where he dropped us off.

When we were finally back in the bus and on our way again, I reflected on all that I’d seen. Like many things that are great wonders, the crowds and hawkers take away some of the experience but I am so glad we had the opportunity to see it all. It is so hard to imagine that something like that has lasted for thousands of years especially given the conditions of blowing sand that has to wear it down through the ages. It was an era that dates to Biblical times and the wonders of the culture in which the Israelites survived. The desert they travel through was not so pretty as the irrigated fields we’d seen. And they wandered for forty years. Thank goodness I had a bus and air conditioning.

We left Giza and went into the city of Cairo. The second part of our excursion was a cruise on the Nile. More importantly at that point in time, we would have lunch. It was already two in the afternoon and breakfast had been at 6 am. We’d snacked on trail mix that I’d brought along but it was almost gone at this point. We were hungry.

Plenty of shopping opportunities

The bus drove through a nice area of the city as we neared the river. Lots of trees and flowering bushes graced fancier buildings many of which were hotels and restaurants. In front of what appeared to be a large river boat, we exited the bus and walked down a ramp that led through this large boat to a somewhat smaller one yet large enough to hold what I’m estimating to be about 160 of us for lunch in a huge dining hall.

The lunch was buffet with all sorts of good things the best of which was the meatballs made from lamb and of course all the lovely desserts. Not long after we were settled with our plates, the boat left the shore and sailed a bit one way on the river and turned to head back the other way. Meanwhile, when most of us were done eating, the band appeared with all sorts of instruments and the entertainment began.

One fellow had quite a costume that lit up as he twirled round and round. The music got louder and some of us, knowing the three hour ride back, found a restroom and waited in line for that away from some of the loudness. Meanwhile, Bob enjoyed the female dancer whose costume did not cover shoulders and knees as we had been told to dress. He’s still smiling the day after.

The three hour bus trip back to the ship only took about two and a half hours. We arrived a little before seven. The buffet and dining room had stayed open late for us (most people had been gone for the day) so we dropped our things in the room and went for a light snack. There would be no evening activities for us. We dropped into bed, glad to know we faced a sea day in the morning to recuperate.

So, a visit to the pyramids to contemplate historic Biblical times and a cruise on the Nile. It made Bob think of Moses in the basket among the rushes. Me? I closed my eyes and thought about being Cleopatra for a few moments. Well, a girl can dream.

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