As a self-declared "checklist traveler," there really is no bigger "check" in the world than visiting the Pyramids of Giza. Almost 5,000 years old, and built by none other than "the tribe" (+5 points Jewish laborers), it was as if fate was in our hands when our originally-booked flight to South Africa included an 11-hour layover in Cairo. However, as seems to be the case with all our trips as of late (see Turkey riots), a bit of "political unrest" began to stir in the region. This unrest quickly escalated into an all-encompassing "death to tourists" threat released only 10 days prior to our departure. Given this recent development, as well as countless travel advisories/warnings, we made the only rational decision a young married couple with their whole lives ahead of them would make -- To the pyramids we went.
Now, prior to the "political drama" which had turned Egypt into CNN's new Justin Bieber of the Middle East, the Pyramids had already been plagued by endless complaints of rude, obnoxious and extremely bothersome "touts." For those of you unfamiliar with a "tout," it is essentially an individual who is hell-bent on pestering you to death, via any means possible, until your wallet opens to their hearts content. And thus, being quite possibly the #1 tourist attraction in the world, the Pyramids were chalk-full of hundreds of them. Little did we know, these one's specialized in representing the worst the world has to offer:
Tout #1 - "The Government Worker" - Posing as an employee of the Egyptian government (dressed of course in ratty shorts and an old t-shirt), the first tout we came across was met before even setting foot within the pyramid grounds. After refusing to let our taxi approach the entrance to the site, arguing that only "camels and horse carriages can take you to Pyramids," he then proceeded to literally sit on top of our taxi during the 5 minute drive into the entrance of the pyramids (all while our taxi driver shouted wildly "police police police.") After eventually making our way to the main entrance, he then proceeded to snatch our tickets from the teller after purchase, and threatened our arrest on behalf of the government if we did not comply with his wishes to place us on top of two nearby camels. His pursuits eventually ceased after another 10 minutes, to which Julie exclaimed "this place sucks." Agreed. Annoyance factor = 8/10.
Tout #2 - "The Photo Guy" - The next wonderful individual whose company we were honored enough to have, followed us around for approximately 20 minutes, relentlessly offering to "take photo of beautiful couple." After finally giving in to his requests, in hopes he would leave us be, our Kodak moment was captured. As thanks for his "assistance," I offered him 10 Egyptian pounds (~$1), although needed change for the 50 pound bill I carried. After taking the 50, he then became furious, refusing any notion that he had ever promised change, and proceeded to ask for even MORE money, since "you touch my horse." Once again, he threatened to arrest us on behalf of the government. Annoyance factor - 9/10.
Tout #3 - "La Policia" - With the Pyramid site closing down, the "official" police-force of the park began escorting tourists towards the exit. One such fine fellow approached us as we were taking some of our last photos, reminding us of the closing time. He then followed his request with a smile, offering us to stay 5 more minutes to enjoy "our beautiful country." Thanking him (and quite astonished an honest sole existed within a 20 mile radius), we remained for a few more minutes, before leaving for the exit. At this point, he approached us again, this time with "semi-murderous eyes," requesting money for exiting the park after official closing hours. The standard "arrest on behalf of the government" threat was somehow bypassed this time around. Annoyance factor - 10/10.
Even despite witnessing the worst the world has to offer in regard to people, the Pyramids themselves were absolutely unbelievable. No photo can truly do them justice, as just standing next to a single block the size of a Hummer leads to a sense of complete and utter awe. Thus, I must once again give props to the tribe for a job well done (or aliens/giants/gods, whichever Discovery Channel theory you happen to stumble upon).
Onto the pics: