Hello, dear Reader! Weâ€™re safely back from Egypt as of yesterday. And – ooh blimey! – we saw some fab stuff!
Egypt is richly blessed with precious treasures, but the diamonds in that marvellous countryâ€™s crown â€“ as well as being the ones most people think of when they think of Egypt â€“ have got to be the great pyramids and the sphinx at Giza, near Cairo. So I thought Iâ€™d start my Egyptian blogs with those famed monuments which we were privileged to visit on Friday.
Superlatives abound to describe the truly awesome pyramids but itâ€™s hard to convey their sheer bulk. We are so used to seeing massive buildings these days that go up in matter of months, that it would be easy to not truly understand the gargantuan nature of these 4,500-year-old, hand-built structures. Modern buildings may be big, but except for a few tiny entrances and chambers the pyramids are completely solid. Think about that for moâ€¦ and now feel your jaw drop!
Made of up layer upon layer of blocks some up a metre and half high itâ€™s not until you get right up close you feel that enormity. These monuments were built by skilled workers, not slaves; engineered by intelligent people just like you and I who came to work on them and make a few piastres during the months when the Nile flooded and agriculture was impossible on the inundated fields of the Nile valley.
As you drive through the bustling, overcrowded streets of Giza, the pyramids lurk and loom behind the buildings in a quite surreal way:
Last time I was at the pyramids in July 2000, the sun was scorching. Fortunately, this trip the weather was perfect, about 24 degrees celcius, and perfect for sitting in to make sketches:
We were travelling as part of a group of five families, including our own, so for the benefit of my travelling companions many of who will be new readers to this blog, hereâ€™s a shot of us all:
Welcome to my blog the Hill family, the Wiltshires, the Jeffords and the Clarks.
I love the sphinx, that big-footed leonine sculpture with a pharaohâ€™s face with stripey headgear. Itâ€™s so surreal the way it just sits there, apparently guarding the pyramids which perch on the limestone plateau just behind it.
I got a chance to make a quick sketch, but sadly the time at this monument was way too short so I had to rush it. I got a bit annoyed with the enthusiastic traders who tried to sell me souvenir tat as I drew. Couldnâ€™t they see I was busy? Anyway this is what I finished with:
Photos: Moth Clark and Tarek Ahmed