Thursday, January 8, 2009

Holy freezing pharoah jerky!!

I just reread my last blog from the airport. I must have said security about 25 times.

But I'm suffering from fatigue I think. I spent all day yesterday wandering around and packing, then went to the airport to take my flight at 1:00 to Cairo with a bunch of Thais led by an inredibly GayThai and an incredbly GayGyptian, as well as several men in ill fitting mumus. Let me tell you something, I am the least prepared traveller sometimes. And sometimes, common sense slips me. I think its more a matter of refusing to be led by rules. For example, visas. I never think about them until I get to the country. Which would have put me in a spot had I tried to go to Vietnam, as you have to get them before you fly. Another thing I don't operate under: time zones. I just mostly don't think about them. I recognize they exist. If I try to call someone, I check the time in their area. But travelling? time zones do not compute. So in my head, my flight from BKK to Cairo, which left at 1am and arrived at 6am, was a five hour flight. And I was really dreading not getting enough sleep. Imagine my surprise, as we should be preparing to land, and the stewards are passing out snacks. So then it dawns on me, oh yeah! Time zones! The smart thing to do at this point, would be to ask someone what the difference was between BKK and Cairo. But in my half lucid stupour, that just seemed an admission of idiocy on my part. And some part of me liked not knowing. It was like being in time limbo. I knew I was arriving at 6am. But 6am was not necessarily a defined time in the future. Would it arrive in an hour? Four hours? It was really a bizarre reality.

I did get a few extra moments of sleep due to the magic of time zones, which was nice. But only a few, because often I was playing, "When does 6am occur" in my head, taking cues from other passengers and the habits of the stewards.

So now I'm in Cairo. More rested than I thought I'd be, I headed to the museum. Maybe I was imagining the British Museum, but this was not the glorious place I thought it would be. It looked more like a moderately organized warehouse. I mean, the building itself was actually gorgeous. But the Egyptian Museum desperately needs a new curator. So many things had no information. Just another statue, just another sarcophagus, another pile of hair (yeah, gross). And maybe they were, but I'd appreciate any information. Maybe what pyramid they were found in. Anything. Some cases had information cards in Arabic. Some in Arabic, French, and English. The tri-lingual cards were so yellowed. The font was something off a typewriter. They were probably worth something themselves just for being so old. On the opposite end of time, there were cases with hand written notes on notebook paper, not even college rule!

You can't take pictures in the museum anymore, so I was in a pretty dour mood starting off. Really, I didn't get terribly interested until just before I got too tired to keep going. Unfortunate really. When I was little, all I wanted to be was an Egyptologist, and here I am surrounded by excessive amounts of artifacts, and I'm sad to say, I'm a little bored. This could have just been a manifestion of the biggest downside of travelling, not having anyone to share experiences with. I started writing things in my journal, and that helped a little.

Here's some things I jotted down:

Some of the mummies heads were seriously elongated. Alien? Evolution? Or some wierd head stretching ritual?

At some point in time, the Egyptians realized the tombs were being looted and moved several bodies to a cave for protection (taking some of the loot themselves to give to the current kings). They were more or less forgotten here. My guess would be something to do with Muslims not being to keen on the Pharoahs. Eventually, a sheepherder stumbled onto this cave and his family started trying to sell artifacts. Government finds out and steps in. They load all the bodies on a boat to float to Cairo. When they arrive at customs, the officials have no code for mummies, and so labeled them as "Salted Fish"

Ramses II looks a bit like beef jerky. Almost all the other mummies were black. He was shades of deep red and purples. I'm not gonna lie, cannibalism crossed my mind.

I can't help but think the pretties things in the museum are the visceral least the ones that don't have organs hanging out...

So thats the museum. Wish I had pictures.

If you have not been to Cairo, let me let you in on something amazing: Koshary. I grew up on leftover soup. Somehow my mom, through all her faults, always came through in the kitchen, and leftover soup was always good. Koshary is like fresh leftover soup. They put an assortment of noodles, something that looks like lentils soaked in fat, fried onions, and a lemon into a bowl or aluminum plate if its to go. They give you a small plastic bag of tomato sauce, a small plastic bag of dry chili sauce, and a small bag of vinegar. Mix it all together, soooo good. And they're open 24 hours. Guess what I'm getting for breakfast!

I got my Koshary togo and jumped in a taxi to head out to the citadel. The driver spoke no English, but gave me a cigarette and kept chatting away, attempting to be a tour guide. The driver on the way back gave me a candy bar, plus spoke English, so an upgrade! He's supposed to take me to the pyramids tomorrow. Easiest bargaining I've ever done. He gave one price for a day at the pyramids, I kind of ignored him. By the time he dropped me off, he had almost halfed it, with little haggle from me. But notice I said "supposed" to take me. I told him he could just drop me near my hotel and I'd walk around on the way there. Maybe I got totally disoriented, but the direction he pointed in was no where near my hotel. So we'll see if he turns up tomorrow. If not, no harm, I haven't paid him and there's a group leaving from my hotel an hour later.

I'm going to die in Russia. Off topic? I say this, because at this moment I am freezing. I'm not sure what the temperature is, probably 40 or 50. My nails are breaking off and my knees are terribly sore. I'm probably going to age 10 years in the six months I'll be in Russia.

Anyway, Cairo. I'm glad I'm only here for a 2 days. Because I love it here! Its given me just enough of a taste, without seeing so much I don't want to come back. I'm definitely coming back . There's a german girl here who comes to this same "hotel" twice a year. It is such a gorgeous city. The "dirty", "run down" parts have so much heart that you don't notice the dirt. I think this is common in Arabic countries, at least the ones I've been in. What is also common, is the constant harrassment by local guys. Usually they want to sell you something, or make commission off you buying something. But sometimes they seem to be generally interested in going out with you. But in reality, its still just about getting a visa I think. The owner of the place I'm staying said that's Tutankhamen's curse; Egyptians marrying foreigners. They can be a charming lot when you let them in. Its a love/hate relationship with these places. But I can't think of a city that has taken me as much as Cairo. I love it. I will be back.

Tomorrow: The Pyramids...hopefully!

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