Monday, January 21, 2013

Bribing Doomsday: An Evening at the Pyramids (Part I)

It been far too long since I sat down and thought about writing for JunketAbroad, and I have missed it. Since we last spoke I applied to graduate school, a significant drain on my creative energy, studied for and took my final exams, and traveled around Turkey. Now that I am settled back in Cairo I have been working on a couple of new posts that I hope will get me back into the swing of things.

The Pyramids of Giza are the kind of mysterious that forces the mind into action in hopes of discovering their forgotten secrets. These secretes tease the tips of the imagination, as if through deeper thought and imaginative exploration it could be possible to ascertain the exact manner in which the Pyramids were constructed, and their true purpose. Part of the mystery comes from the nagging feeling that there is certainly more to them than meets the eyes because it is nearly impossible to accept that there is nothing special about them apart from their immense size and beauty. It is inconceivable to imagine that things so extraordinary were built solely to house the decaying bodies enshrined in their depths. But perhaps this is their greatest power, to excite the imagination.
It is my opinion that our current understanding of the Pyramids is superficial at best. I say this because the explanations do not effectively address many of the questions that plague any discussion of their origins, especially with regards to their construction. As a result speculation is rampant and creative. Perhaps they are actually the remnants of long lost power and understanding bestowed to the ancients by aliens. Perhaps there is a lost codex that will shed light their true nature and provide context for unlocking the mysteries of the universe. This seems just as plausible as hundreds of thousands of slaves dragging the enormous stones cut and polished to perfection with other stones across the sand in the desert heat. Ok well maybe not just as plausible, but as long as we are making things up why not get creative.
Whatever the case may be it is undeniable that there is something extraordinary about them, but it is almost impossible to put it into words. This undefined quality makes your skin crawl and your body tingle with excitement and foreboding. They are huge. They are old. They are perfect. All of the superlatives capable of describing the Pyramids have been exhausted, and they are all true.
I will freely admit that I want to believe the Pyramids posses magical powers or play a key role in a larger phenomenon. What can I say I get excited by the implications of the speculations. My experience with the Pyramids has made me pretty confident that if the world is going to end as a result of something other human agency, the Pyramids will be the epicenter of some pretty spectacular stuff. Potentially. So naturally I planned to be at the Pyramids on December 21st, the latest in doomsday predictions, just in case, and because I could.
 I intended to go to the Pyramids in the early evening, just in time to watch the heavens open up and the mother-ship return to enlighten us, and/or to watch the fire and brimstone rain down upon us as the faithful are raptured away from the blooming hell-scape that was earth. I was also petty confidant that the apocalypse would be an evening affair, its more dramatic that way… and there had been no mother-ship nor fire and brimstone when I woke up that morning.
Preoccupied with my theories on the likely schedule of destruction I did not thinking twice about hours of operation of the Pyramids, it was doomsday after all who could think about something so trivial at a time like that! I climbed into a cab and said, ‘Al-Ahramet (the pyramids) and step on it,’ (I didn’t actually say that last part, my Arabic is not that good yet). Its good to know that even on doomsday, when every last moment of existence is precious, Cairo’s traffic is still so unbearable it made me beg for the end to come quicker.
It was a stroke of luck that our taxi was flagged down by an Egyptian man standing at the side of the road. He spoke to the driver in Arabic for a moment and then hopped onto the trunk of the cab and proceeded to give the driver directions through a maze of side streets and allies. From what I was able to gather from their conversation there may have been some kind of protest or demonstration that was causing the back up, and by following his directions we would avoid a prolonged wait. Whether or not this was the case, our self appointed navigator was actually directing us to his business in hopes of enticing us to hire his services as a guide on a camel tour of the Pyramids. I should not have been surprised that this was his intention, and though I was annoyed by his ploy I did not see the opportunity that his actions had provided. And after our detour through the back allies of Giza we found ourselves at the back gate of the park.
My lack of foresight in regards to the hours of operation meant that we were going to arrive at Pyramids after they had closed for the day, and perhaps eternity. Until then I had not considered the possibility that it would not be possible to see the Pyramids up close because they were closed. Before even stepping out of the cab we were approached by a man who told us that the park was closed for the day, but offered to get us into the park for the price of admission, sixty Egyptian Pounds, paid to him rather than to the ticket office. This payment would not only get us in, but he offered to be our guide and personal attaché for dealing with the park’s security staff who would surely question our presence at the park after dark.
In the waning hours of daylight on the last day of the world as we know it I found myself on a private tour of the nearly deserted park, which is usually swamped with tourists and vendors. Needless to say the world did not end while we were there, oh well, but the experience was still pretty unforgettable, highlighted by a spectacular sunset. By standing in just the right spot the Sphinx was silhouetted against the three Pyramids, aligned and bathed in a warm glow.

To be continued…

TL;DR I bribed a guy to let me see the Pyramids after they were closed. It was great!