I was very fortunate that I had several coworkers that were as passionate about traveling as I was. They shared the same interest and were as excited about the thrill of going to different parts of the world. The more exotic or dangerous, the better. We actually thought at times to join the Amazing Race Reality show.
In May 2010, my good friend Paul Polichronis and I decided to visit Egypt and see the first wonder of the ancient world. The Pyramids. After a 12 hour flight, we touch down in Cairo and head to a taxi stand. Our mission was to be in Cairo for 48 hours and head back home. Whenever we visit places that may have political instability, we keep our guard up at all times and try to camouflage ourselves in with the crowd. The problem is that my buddy Paul may, at times, be just a little too loud and can stand out like a sore thumb. We ultimately find a taxi driver that we trusted and head to Tahrir Square. We’ve heard that this is a popular place for political demonstration and if we wanted to see some action, it would present itself there. It was simply a normal day with no protests.
Upon roaming the downtown area, we get pulled to one side from a street vendor selling perfume. He waves us to turn left, directs us to a secondary street and while Paul and I look at each other to decide if we continue, he welcomes us into his store. Spoke extremely well English and has it turns out, has family in Montreal. He explained to us how perfume comes from flowers and showed us different samples. We both purchased some for our spouses and we then quickly vanish in the crowd.
Looking at our “to visit” list, we then venture towards the Nile River. The surprising fact of this 7000 kilometer river is that although the longest River in the world, only about 25 percent is in Egypt. The longest part is actually in Africa, and yet we associate the Nile with Egypt.
What happens next really shows that someone above is watching over us. We take a taxi to head to our hotel for the night. The taxis are paid per ride and the quicker they drop us off, the quicker they become available for the next possible customer. We get in this old car and despite the smell of 10 mint air fresheners hanging from the rearview mirror, the car reeked of burnt rubber. Paul and I are in the back and as the driver takes the on ramp for the highway, he starts accelerating to a speed much faster than this car can handle. The highway had at least 5 lanes and as the car is losing control, the driver is trying to offset it by moving the steering wheel in the opposite direction. With absolutely no suspension, the car spins out of control with a 360 to hit the side wall. We held on as best as we could and we thanked our lucky stars that only a handful of cars were around. The car had body damage, Paul had a bump on his head and I had a bruised elbow. Considering what has just happened, the side wall saved the car from plummeting 100 feet. He exits the highway, drops us off and we check in the Sofitel. 24 hours remaining.
The Sofitel that we have booked near the Giza area was much more elaborate than we thought. Great view of the Pyramids, pool area like any Caribbean vacation spot, and staff that was extremely accommodating. Wanting to feel the true essence of our environment, we decided to take a horse buggy to Pyramids. The horse ride took us through some pretty hard hit areas that definitely made us feel uncomfortable. How can people live in that area.
As the horse was approaching the Pyramids, the magnificent view was breathtaking. How on earth did they build this with no machinery? The location was so vast that even though many tourists were around, it seemed Paul and I were the only ones present. We were able to actually touch, feel and walk the grounds.
Along with the awesome Pyramids, we read up on the Sphinx and acknowledged that their purpose was to protect the Pyramids from any evil trespasses. History was never my strong subject in school, but as I get older, it continuously fascinates me.
It definitely sounds quite weird, however after the full day of walking in the sand, we come across a Pizza Hut with a great view that we end up having a late lunch to end our expedition. Red and blue chairs lined up linearly with totally unobstructed view. Who can ask for more.
At times when someone would ask me what I have done that particular weekend in May, I had to lie and say, “nothing much.” , when in fact, I was climbing the Pyramids in Egypt.