09 December 2009
The [Really] Great Pyramids
Humans have done wonders over the past 1000 years to both create and destroy on a level that has - as far as we know - never been seen before in history. From castles to airplanes, we’ve found ways to craft nature and it’s resources into “things” that simply could not exist on their own. From the Great Wall to the Birj Dubai, human beings shock me with their ability on a regular basis.
Cue the Great Pyramids of Giza. Nothing can quite prepare you for your first glimpse of these awe-inspiring, overwhelming, mind-blowing structures. Even in modern-day terms they’re remarkable - once perfectly smooth on four sides, symmetrical to a tee and nearly 600 feet tall. They weren’t built this century, however. In fact, they weren’t built in the last 30 centuries. No, these genuine wonders of the world were built nearly FOUR THOUSAND years ago. While Europeans were still living in caves and killing prey with sticks the Ancient Egyptians were building what continue to be some of the most impressive structures ever conceived by man.
I couldn’t get enough of them. In fact, I made a point to visit, admire and go gaga for them every day I was in Cairo. This despite their not being all that accessible. That is, you take a taxi to the subway to a taxi that has to finagle its way some 5 miles down the most traffic-induced disaster of a thoroughfare I have ever seen, and I lived in China. That five miles takes nearly an hour before you arrive at the “Giza Pyramids” turnoff, where all cars must careen more than a mile away from the Pyramids to go around the Giza Pyramids golf resort. After that, it’s either a 2-mile walk or horse ride to the “main gates” which are oddly situated right next to a Pizza Hut. Despite the aura of “desert isolation” that surrounds the Pyramids, they are, in reality, crammed right in the middle of one of Cairo’s poorest suburbs. That’s right, people are living without running water or plumbing next to one of the world’s most visited sites. That is, the Pyramids, not Pizza Hut.
The trouble is all worth it the minute you stand face to face with history. It’s really a toss-up between The Great Wall and The Pyramids for most amazing site ever. Lets just call it a tie and be done with it. In the meantime, I’m going to try and figure out what happened in the last 5,000 years to bring Egypt from the world’s greatest Civilization to a modern-day developing nation with the hope of avoiding a similar fate at home. If we do go, what will be our symbol of greatness? That is, what will people be snapping photos next to as they wander “Ancient America?” Hmm....