Although the pyramids, like we all were explained from our childhood, they are still a type of burial, the form and substance of these buildings has always been interesting for a large number of people over the years. In them, the body of the deceased is buried at the base as the seed of a plant that would be reborn to be guided through the pyramid to eternal life. The Egyptians saw in the form of pyramids the origins of the world itself and they believed that its origin came from the Nile River overflows that occurred once a year. When the water returned to descend arose pyramidal mounds surrounded by water and, according to legend, one of these mounds grew a lotus where the Sun God was born, and from him all creation.
Close to them at last and deleting the mystical feeling around us, we became the unavoidable target of sellers and owners of horses and camels that invite us prepaid in a surprising variety of languages to take with us a memory of Giza, apart from the input of some 60 Egyptian pounds we have already paid to enter the enclosure (approximately 6 euros / 8 dollars). However, the shadow of another well-known image leaves our photographic memory to materialize in front of our eyes: the monumental Sphinx of Giza is watching us with its 20 meters high from where it has known civilizations and cultures that we only imagine. Built in 26th century BC, its lion body and its huge head (experts say representing the face of Khafre), were originally polychrome, but today its gold shades overwhelm the same way.
We head toward the door of the Great Pyramid of Cheops, and after paying the corresponding extra 100 Egyptian pounds (approximately 10 euros / 14 dollars), the security take our cameras and without realizing we plunged into History through a narrow corridor lit by a few lamps to find the points where the visitor can enter. The heat is stifling inside and much more as we move, when sweat comes over our faces. Passing through the next corridor, the gallery becomes so small that many people decide to turn around and not finish the tour. With our strong adventurous spirit, we decided to delve and climb down a hallway that buries us under giant rocks, so near our faces that we can feel the air returns after hit them. The mixture of lack of oxygen, heat and humidity make it almost unbearable to continue when the hallway forces us to crouch to dodge some inconspicuous projections. The silence is broken with bated breath of those trying to get out alive, some suffocated and others breathing the stale air of each time narrower tunnels when finally we reach a much wider gallery that leads to the sarcophagus room of granite without any decoration, it lies between empty and austere completely smooth walls. We must be at the center of the pyramid, in the center of one of the most important cultural representatives of humanity. However, it so difficult to breathe that we turn around to go back to the warm air of Giza, which now seems to us even nice and cool.
After this 'not for the claustrophobic' tour, and taking a few minutes to rest, we bargain with a taxi driver to get to the center of Cairo, where we need to cross the Nile River to the Zamalek district on the island of Al Gezirah to meet our friend Kareem. From the taxi, we admire the pyramids among contemporary buildings of surrounding neighborhoods. A peculiar image that will be hard to forget.
We get to the north side of this small island and go down at the gates of the Left Bank cafe, where we are meeting with Kareem, who has not yet arrived. The Left Bank atmosphere is modern and cozy, decorated in white, silver and grey and with a map that recreates the center of Cairo as a mosaic on the floor and huge windows overlooking the Nile. We decide to wait in one of the corners with comfortable sofas and suddenly Kareem appears with a cup of Shay tea and another one with lemon juice and mint (the favorite of the Egyptians!) that he leaves on the glass table before greeting us. Kareem has successfully chosen our drinks with an act that demonstrates the translation of his name, 'generous' . While we wait for his caramel flavor latte, we speak to him about how excited we still are with our visit to the pyramids, something that usually happens to everyone as our friend says laughing. Furthermore, he insist us that we must return at night to attend the Giza Pyramids Sound and Light Show.
Just as our drinks, morning has completely finished and Kareem insists on taking us to a very close place in order to taste what for him is a typical 'Egyptian breakfast', but for us it is more a full-blown lunch. Zooba is a very busy place and one of the best as Kareem says. The breakfast, which is foul (beans) and tamias (falafels) with local cheese, looks delicious and, after the tour and the visit to the pyramids, Egyptian food gives us some of our energy back.
Although having visited the above we would still not see all places in Cairo, schedule the trip to visit some remote areas of the city is highly recommended. Those places are Sakkara, something closer, the Valley of the Kings and Temple of Luxor, which is worth visiting since you have come all the way up here. Therefore, you should leave your adventurous side to become a real tourist even if you do not like it at all, because taking a Nile cruise is the easiest way to visit them.
After a quick look at what can be seen of the busy street from within Zooba, Kareem pushes us back to the chaotic Cairo and its sounds of car horns and popular clamor, the city where the old minaret of a beautiful mosque fights with the most modern building at the time, a culture that we should appreciate with the look of a newborn, forgetting all our civic habits to get to open our mind to discover a new way of seeing life, without claims and breathing deep to find peace in the midst of utter chaos.
Kareem drives fast and skillful demonstrating that he is at home. Quickly the giant river that brought life to the city takes the horizon and everything that fits in our eyes is now the vastness of the Nile crossing Cairo and its diverse architecture. In Egypt everything begins and ends with the Nile, the source of life for the majority of the Egyptian people for millenniums. Thanks to the many expeditions that have tried to find his origin, which now they say is between Rwanda and Tanzania, and civilizations formed along its path, the Nile has been awarded for the mysticism that has accompanied it throughout History. And now we are in front of him, waiting on a pier to sail its waters as explorers in feluccas typical, small boats with triangular sails used in Egypt (North Africa and the Middle East) since ancient times.