25.10.12

Pyramids, Baby

So, prior to my trip to the pyramids, I had a lot of the staff/students here telling me that they aren't that exciting. I was told that the pyramids are the most hyped up, but least exciting monuments in Egypt.
They were wrong.
I am simply amazed by the pyramids.
I am so happy that everyone had me thinking that they would be lame - it made the experience even more perfect.
The best way I can describe the experience of seeing the pyramids is... surreal.
I just kept thinking, "is this really happening? Am I actually here?"
Ever since I was a child, I always dreamed of traveling the world, seeing the wonders that it had to offer. But, that's something that everyone fantasizes about. To actually have it happen? That is a different thing entirely. It was amazing. I can't believe the feats of man, that they created such structures that have stood the test of time and are still so powerful today.
The shock and awe lasted the whole day.
Possibly longer, we will see if I am still awestruck tomorrow.
Probably.
We started out the day with a stop at the Step Pyramid. This is the oldest stone structure in the world. That's right. The oldest stone building in the WHOLE WORLD. Guess what?
I climbed it.
Illegally.
I illegally climbed the oldest stone monument in the world.
I am so much cooler than Lara Croft.
Phil, Chris, and I split off from the group to take a look at the pyramid from the back side. AKA the side that was fenced off, but since the fence was broken...well, that means we can go there, right?
Next thing I know, Phil has scaled the side of the pyramid. Well, Chris had to follow. And I wasn't gonna be left behind.
So. We climbed the pyramid.
WE CLIMBED THE PYRAMID.
Is this for real? I'm pretty sure that is something I've only ever dreamt of doing.

We climbed all the way to the third tier before some guards caught us and made us climb down.  Keep proportion in mind though. Each of those "tiny" bricks is about 2x3feet, making the third tier very high. I'm afraid of heights, so at that point I sat on the side of the pyramid and tried to coax myself into climbing higher. Thankfully (?) the guard caught us at that point. Don't worry - we didn't get in trouble. We climbed down the other side so that the guard couldn't catch us ;)


The side of the pyramid as we climbed up. We used the eroded space between the giant bricks as footholds for climbing. There was a stretch of level ground for us to walk on at each tier of the pyramid. 


This is me, trying not to have a panic attack about how high up I was. LOOK AT HOW HIGH I WAS. The ground is so far below! 

The Step Pyramid was my favorite of the three that we saw, by far. It was just amazing to be at such a famous place. And then climb it.
After this, we headed over to see the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur. The Red Pyramid came first, and it was so intimidating. It is huge! It is only ten feet shorter than the Great Pyramid of Giza.


This is part of our group walking up to the Red Pyramid. You can't see the scale of it in this photo. It is just gargantuan. To enter inside the pyramid, you have to climb the steps/scaffolding to an entrance in the middle of the pyramid.


Once you climb all the stairs to make it to the center of the pyramid, you climb down a deep dark tunnel. For a long time. This tunnel was super sketch - it is only about 4x4ft and 500ft or so long. There is almost no light (minus the flash from our cameras) and the heat inside is stifling. It is also super steep - this is a photo of us going DOWN, and the only thing to (barely) keep you from sliding the whole way are those little metal bars that act as footholds. 


The heat and the incline were overwhelming. It felt like it lasted forever, climbing slowly downwards into the pyramid! I do not recommend going inside for any of you considering visiting the Red Pyramid. It was quite the experience, but not worth all the effort. Turns out the inside of the pyramid is a cramped, claustrophobic, dark little room with nothing in it. Except the strong stench of ammonia from years of urine. Staying outside of this pyramid was definitely preferable. 


The Red Pyramid is beautiful from the outside, though.


The final stop on our pyramid marathon was the Bent Pyramid. This pyramid was halfway built, when the architects realized that the incline at which it was being built would cause the pyramids to be unstable, so they adjusted the angle. This resulted in a "bent" pyramid, with the top half at a 48 degree angle while the bottom half is at a 54 degree angle. Fun stuff. 

This trip was so perfect. The day was absolutely exhausting; many many bottles of water were drunk, and many hours of sleep will be needed to recover from it all. It was worth it though, and I can't wait for the next trip to the pyramids. We didn't make it to the Great pyramids of Giza today, but next time we definitely will be. 
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