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  • Writer's pictureRachel Terlop

'Glyphs Or It Didn't Happen

Y'all, Egypt is hot. From the moment I landed, I was sweating. Not just sweating, but like, literally dripping. Dripping on the floor, sweating through clothes, and just constant upper lip wetness. But I have never seen anything like it.

As you begin to land, you see nothing but a coppery golden desert - for miles and miles and miles. It is absolutely stunning.

This adventure though Egypt was possible due to one of the gorgeous fellows I am training with this month (SF). She lives and teaches in Egypt, and was generous enough to invite myself and a few other fellows out to explore before heading to Uganda. She works outside of Cairo, but planned three days of adventures for us to get to see some of the most important sites.

I landed, and the girls I was meeting collected me from the airport. We went straight to the first hotel which was called Pyramids Eyes. This place was a stones throw away from the Pyramids of Giza, with a view of them from the bedroom window. Since I landed at night, they were lit up in all their glory, and just as incredible as I had imagined them. After a delicious meal of grilled meats, hummus, salad, eggplant, and pita, we settled into bed to prepare for adventures.

WH and I at the base of the pyramid

Day 1: Wear long sleeves and long pants into the 100+ degree sun and go explore the Pyramids of Giza.

As a tourist, SF let us know we would be charged more than the Egyptian price if we were showing anything more than ankles. Even ankles wasn't the best move. Grabbing a white shirt, black joggers, tennis shoes, and a green button down, I felt ready. Until I stepped into the sun. There is nothing like this all consuming heat.

Soaked before even getting to the Uber, we all crammed in and headed to the pyramids. Coming up and in, I learned that there are not just two pyramids - but rather 9 in this area. Also, did you know there is 96 or 110 pyramids in Egypt? I use both of these numbers because we got two conflicting stories from our cab drivers. Any who, started the trek to the pyramid, got there, marveled at its glory, and found out we could go up and inside of it. I do not know what I was thinking would happen once I got inside a pyramid, but it wasn't this.

Camel probably screaming in fear as I prepare to sit on him

When you enter the pyramid, you start by going down, going deeper and deeper, until you hit a 45 degree incline. Hunching over, there is a wooden plank and wooden or metal posts running across every foot or so as a foot hold. Hunch and climb. For what seemed like an eternity - hunch and climb. At one point, the man in front of me stopped and turned to ask if I was okay.

"In through your nose, and out through your mouth."

I wanted zero help, and initially snapped to say, "I don't need help, thanks." What a blow to the ego. But then I realized I was in full covering clothes, inside a pyramid, with 100 degree heat, and no breeze - of course my body was freaking out. After apologizing, I went back to the climb. Upon reaching the top, you find yourself in the room of a tomb. No hieroglyphics - but rather smooth walls, and smooth tomb. Incredible none the less. To be inside this wonder that I have learned about and taught about at school was beyond anything I could have fathomed.

After a much easier climb down and out, we walked around the side of the pyramid to find rows of camels. SF bartered with our guide to take us out into the Sahara to see all 9 pyramids on camel back. The cost for the four of us: 1000 Egyptian Pounds (60$).

Sore thighs were worth the photo

Climbing on a camel is fine, but when they stand up, it is like the bucking bull at the country bar. You have to lean all the way back, grip with your thighs, and hold on for dear life. Once up, it's about as comfortable as riding a horse. Always shifting your weight forward - or trying to. The breeze as we trudged (I act like I did something - that poor camel had to carry me around for over an hour) through the desert was a savior. We rode for about an hour, made it out to this panoramic spot to see all 9 pyramids at once, and then finished our journey at the Sphinx.

When we got into the Sphinx area, I finally realized how thirsty and drained I was. I plopped myself down on the ground, put my electrolyte packet into my bottle of water and chugged it (thanks Mom!). I have never needed anything more. By the time I got to the Sphinx, I basically stood there, snapped one photo, and turned to go. I was shattered.

It was incredible - but wow does the sun do something to you!

We loaded into the back of a van and drove about an hour outside the city to an area called Faiyum. Stopping for some tea by a gorgeous lake, we collected ourselves before heading straight out into the desert. For sand boarding lessons.

Our guide and driver thought it hysterical to slam pedal to the metal and head straight for a sand dune - sending us all into a screaming giggle fit. Racing to the edge of a dune where you cannot begin to even fathom where the bottom is turned into our roller coaster ride of the day. Eventually, we made it to a gorgeous, remote, steep dune and the driver floored it to get us to the top.

Boards waxed - we plopped ourselves down and worked up the nerve to go over the edge. Once by one we all eventually went. Maybe I squealed the whole way down. Shrieked? Either way - I did it! Upon reaching the bottom though, I realized that the climb back up to the top was necessary.

It took me three rounds of effort before getting back to the top of that dune. I stopped to plop and catch my breath after every time I ended up going backwards with the sand. Eventually it took me taking off my shoes and fireman climbing to get to the top. My body was telling me I was done for the day! What a day it was!

We ate a picnic in the sand, in the shade of the jeep before starting the journey home. Sleep overcame most of us on the drive, and the last thing I remember is the Arabic swirling in my head and making up the whole conversation in English.

"Let's play Titanic!"

Day 2: Quad biking in the desert with a side of Sakkara

Twist my arm to let me go on a four wheeler. When we were in Greece last summer, Chris finally put his foot down on something, and said I wasn't aloud to drive a 4-wheeler on the highway, at night, on the side of a cliff. So when the opportunity arose to drive - count me in!

We started our morning out in the Sahara, each of us zooming along on an ATV, watching the pyramids go in and out of view as we conquered each successive sand dune. Coming to the top of a dune, and seeing the guide disappear over the top was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.

After returning our ATVs, we jumped in the car and headed out to Sakkara to see the very first pyramid. Like, the first one. Of all time. Ever.

This was hands down, the coolest part of the trip. We got to walk inside, under, and go through tombs covered in hieroglyphics. Not just go through them, but touch.

I was touching everything. 4,000 year old carvings on the walls, still with origional paint. Room after room, wall after wall. There has never been anything so mind blowing.

portrait mode of portrait

How is it possible that hardly anyone was out here at these pyramids? How is it possible this is not the most heavily guarded treasure in the world? I was astounded that one one said a word as I just touched and rubbed my hands on the walls - trying to find a way to comprehend what I was looking at.

After touching every possible symbol we could, we headed back into the city to our final hotel - on an island in the middle of the Nile river.

When arriving to the door, the door man looked me up and down, shook his head and declared, "Too dusty." That is what I get for crawling through pyramids and tombs to see hieroglyphics.


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