Great Pyramid

June 1, 2007 — I visited the Great Pyramid of Giza a few years ago while in Egypt on a journalistic assignment of dubious merit and ethical validity.  Little did I know then that I would have to eventually figure out a way to treat this venerated artifact of human culture with the cheesy casualness that I do the rest of the oddities on this site.  Here goes, though.

The Great Pyramid squats (yes, that is exactly the appropriate verb) just on the outskirts of the capital city of Cairo.  Officially, the pyramid is located on the plain of Giza, but that plain that was apparently usurped by the city limits at some point in the past. 

Obviously, that's disappointing...even if extremely convenient. In the much better environment of my mind I had it more exotically placed.  Like you had to jump on camels and fight dust storms and nomads to get to it instead of just jumping into a taxi with a driver who likes playing American dance hits on his radio.

All my life I’d heard of the wonder of ancient architecture that was the Great Pyramid.  I could actually see it from my hotel balcony, and, as you can see from the second picture, it was definitely picturesque from that vantage.  When I got there, though, I discovered that it’s merely a pile of shaped rock.  Sure, it’s an enormous pile of gargantuan shaped rock, but the hype might've been more gargantuan. 

What surprised me the most was that the Great Pyramid is not smooth.  For some reason (probably the fact that my imagination portrays everything as detail-less cartoon drawings in my mind), I thought it was smooth-sided.  Granted, it was at one time, but the effects of erosion and looting had removed its outer stone covering, leaving a triangular pile of what looks a lot like rubble, honestly.  You can still see a limestone cap on one of the less great pyramids nearby to give you some idea.

Well, all that was my original impression.  But now that I’ve researched it a bit for this article, I feel like an absolute cretin.  For the record, the Great Pyramid is impressively ancient, mind-smashingly complex, giant beyond belief, spiritually overpowering, and unduplicatable even by modern methods.  I only believe about half of that, of course, but I though I’d encapsulate every other Internet piece about the Great Pyramid for your benefit.  When it comes right down to it, it’s big and it’s old and it’s a million miles away from you, and that’s enough to make it a wonder.  Go see it.  On the company dime, if you can arrange it.

The only truly unpleasant part of the Great Pyramid experience for me was the souvenir hawkers.  They don’t just come up to you and ask you to buy something.  They ask you to take their picture or they’d take yours and then asked for money.  Or they’d say they had “a gift” for their American friend.  Then, after giving it to you, they’d demand a gift in return.  You had to be absolutely rude.  I mean kick-in-the-tender-areas rude.  Still, I got some souvenir beads for free by not understanding the custom/scam.

Neighboring the Great Pyramid are two other pyramids and some other various death-related structures.  And you probably want to know about the Sphinx.  And the interior of the Great Pyramid.  Sore subjects, those.  Our overly passionate tour guide took so long explaining the giant pile of rocks inside the tour bus that we only had time for a long distance view of the Sphinx and not enough time to go inside the Great Pumpkin, er, Pyramid.  I snapped a picture of the Sphinx, but loathing any shot that I can buy on a post card, summarily deleted it.  I can also never say I’ve been inside the most famous tomb in the world, and I’m pissed about that.

And it was that day that my loathing for group tours started.

There you go.  Once in a lifetime experience…only somewhat tainted. Sorry this was such an unpleasant read.  Next time I’ll try to cut down on the whining.