Monday, May 01, 2006

Pyramids, Camels, Celebrities, and More!

Greetings again from Cairo.

I have just had the most exciting field trip of my entire life! This morning, Kristin and her group visited a place called Giza on the outskirts of Cairo. Guess what? That's where the famous pyramids I see on TV are!

I learned SO many things this morning on our field trip that I could write all day about it. But, since your attention span is probably short like mine is most of the time, I will just tell you about the best parts.

Our visit to Giza started with a briefing from a man named Zahi Hawass. He is the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. That sounds really important, doesn't it? It turns out he is a very important person. It his his job to do something called "preserve" Egypt's history including the pyramids. I think this means he makes sure the pyramids and other important monuments and statues are kept safe so people many years from now can also see what I saw today.

Mr. Hawass is full of energy. Kristin calls him "colorful." He looked normal to me so I'm not sure what she means when she says he is "colorful." I can tell from the way he talked that he really likes his job. He was so excited when he talked that Kristin couldn't get a clear photo of him.

While Kristin and her group were asking Mr. Hawass questions, I realized that I have seen him before. He has been on the Discovery Channel talking about the pyramids. How cool is that! I must tell Aunt Lynn because I know she has seen his TV shows.

After Mr. Hawass finished his presentation, he asked one of his best guides to give us a tour of Giza. We started with The Great Pyramid. Here you can see me standing in front of the Great Pyramid.

Did you know the Great Pyramid was built more than 4500 years ago (that's a REALLY, REALLY long time ago). I had no idea! In fact, Mr. Hawass says the pyramids I saw today are one of what's known as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. That's pretty cool!

Do you know why the pyramids were built? Kings who once ruled Egypt were buried inside of them. Who knew? Our guide told us there are more than 2 million stones in the Great Pyramid. Each stone weighs more than 2 TONS (that's REALLY heavy). Kristin says this is why the pyramids are "wonders." People like Mr. Hawass are trying to figure out how workers 4500 years ago built the pyramids. That's because those workers didn't have big trucks or cranes or modern tools to build the pyramids. WOW! That must have been a really tough job!

Our guide told us that the number of people allowed inside is limited because too many people inside can hurt the stones. So I was really surprised when I got to go INSIDE for a brief time. The inside of the pyramid is a series of very small, steep tunnels and rooms. It is like walking into a small cave. It was kind of scary. I think Kristin saw that I was a bit afraid so we didn't stay inside for very long.

Something called the Sphinx was next on our tour. It is a very large structure that looks kind of like a lion with a big face on it. Here you can see me and Kristin standing near the Sphinx.

Our guide told us that the Sphinx was carved out of a single piece of stone. Can you imagine! It's HUGE.

Our next stop was something called the "Mortuary Temple." This is where the Kings and other people buried in the pyramids were turned into mummies or "mummified." It is nothing but a bunch of open stone rooms now but our guide says there used to be a canal or small body of water that connected the Nile River to the front of the Mortuary Temple. And no....I did NOT see any mummies today. The mummies found here and in other parts of Egypt are now in museums all over the world including the ones I saw in New York. Now I am double glad that Kristin took me to see the mummies in New York.

Our final stop of the morning was to a building at the base of one side of the Great Pyramid. This building covers something called "The Solar Boat."

Our guide told us that this boat was found buried in the sand in near the Great Pyramid in 1954. I thought it was strange that someone would bury a boat. But, our guide told us that ancient Egyptians believed they would live in a different world after they died. So, when someone died, their family and friends would bury food and other things (like boats) along with the mummy so the person had the items he/she needed after death. I'm still not sure I understand why the boat was buried so I am just telling you what the guide said.

This boat is believed to be one of the oldest boats in the world. And, it was originally built with rope. There were no nails holding it together. Can you believe that?! Here's a close-up of some of the rope used to build the boat.

And here I am with Kristin standing at one end of the boat.

There were many, many people at the pyramids today. Kristin says that's because today (May 1) is a national holiday in Egypt. Who knew? Anyway, Kristin says families like to visit important places on national holidays.

I really wish we were able to spend more time exploring the pyramids. I could have been there all day! If we had stayed longer, we could have taken a horse, donkey or camel ride around the pyramids. That would have been SO cool. Oh well, it was fun to watch the animals. Of course, the camels are my favorite. The security guards use camels to patrol the pyramids. I think that would be an awesome job! Here you can see one of the camel guards.

Oh...I forgot to mention that our bus drove right past the Cairo Zoo this morning. I was able to see camels, ostridge and even zebras through the window! I asked Kristin if we were going to visit the zoo but she says we don't have time. Oh well, at least I got to see the zebras from the bus.

I could go on and on and on but I think I should let Kristin use her computer now. So, I will say goodbye for now with small versions of my favorite photos Kristin took today.

After my visit today I realized that I am VERY lucky that I was able to see the pyramids. Thanks Kristin for taking me with you today! Until next time....