By Robert Bard and Lupita Colmenero.
I am sure that we all have a bucket list, the list of all the things we want to see, do, or accomplish before we die. For most of us our bucket list has evolved through the years. As our priorities change, our responsibilities erase most of the items on the list and they become “I wish I could have”.
I have always been fascinated by a civilization long gone. There has been an item on my list that has never changed though, Egypt, the pyramids, the temples, and the Sahara desert. I’ve seen probably hundreds of documentaries, including every kind of silly mummy movie, tv series, cartoons, you name it.
Until now my highlight had been to be able to visit the King Tutankhamun’s traveling exhibit (3 times) when it came to Los Angeles in 2005. I was fascinated by it and it was the closest I thought I would ever get to my wish. Well, this year, for my birthday, my wife, Lupita, surprised me with the most amazing gift I have ever received, 10 days in the land of the Pharaohs. I couldn’t believe it! As the day approached for our trip I revisited my Ancient Egypt books and videos, ran up and down the stairs a little faster to get in some kind of shape, (there’s a lot of walking in the heat) bought appropriate weather clothes, most importantly the shoes and of course “desert clothes.” I need not have worried since Lupita had made sure that we were there during the most temperate weather for Egypt, March/April, but even then, it was too hot for my taste. I am a cold weather person but I was determined to endure and enjoy the trip no matter what.
Then at last the day came, we boarded our flight to Rome and from there to Cairo. It took a whole night and half a day but the excitement and anticipation allowed us to enjoy every minute of it. Finally, we landed at Cairo Airport, met our guide, Khalid, an Egyptologist and college professor, and Mr. Ramada from Ask Aladdin, our travel agency was waiting for us. If you are planning to go to Egypt, make sure to contact “Ask Aladdin” first. We were pleasantly greeted with a first-class service and professionalism. After we got briefed, we were taken to our hotel to get some rest, some food and to get ready for the big following day. I couldn’t wait to begin our journey back in time. Through the evening haze from our hotel we could see the Great Pyramid in the distance, an incredible sight.
At 6 a.m. the next morning we were on our way to Giza, home of the Great Pyramid, one of the eight wonders of the world. My childhood dream was unfolding right in front of me. Nothing, all the years of documentaries, books, and TV specials had prepared me for what was waiting for me.
The Giza complex encompasses nine pyramids but the most famous are three. The Great Pyramid is the largest and was built by Pharaoh Khufu around 2550 BC. It is beyond description and hard to comprehend how these world wonders were built. I truly believe that the only way for you to ever get a true sense of it is to stand right in front of it. It is made of an estimated 2.3 million limestone blocks, each weighing an average of 2.5 to 15 tons. Each block aligned so perfectly that not even a piece of paper can be fitted between them. The Great Pyramid is a perfect geometric shape and it stands at 481 feet. It is estimated that it took some 30 years for 20,000 workers to build it. It is so impressive that for some the only way to make sense of it is to attribute it to extra-terrestrials, since they cannot explain how human mortals could have constructed such an incredible mega-structure.
The second pyramid was built by the Pharaoh Khaphre, son of Kufu, some 30 years later. He is also the builder of the Sphinx and Pharaoh Menkaure built the smaller one around 2490 BC. The pyramids have withstood for over 4500 years, so you can say that the Pharaohs truly achieved their goal of immortality since they will surely stand long after we are all gone.
We entered the Great Pyramid through a tunnel that was initially opened by grave robbers who must have been successful since no treasures from it have ever been found. It was not easy getting up to the sarcophagus room, we climbed past the Grand Gallery in amazement all the while wondering how this structure could have been built. We couldn’t linger too long in the room since it was small, stifling hot and more people were coming in. To be honest I felt a little bit claustrophobic as well. We made it out and proceeded to get on a camel ride around the pyramids to appreciate the enormity of it all. It was an unbelievable visit to one of the most magical places on earth.
So we’ve been inside the Great Pyramid of Egypt, how many people can say that? Follow us on our journey to the Sphinx and Cairo Museum in our next issue of our magazine.
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