May 27, 2009

Day 120 : Cairo

Today marked my visit to The Great Pyramids of Giza. As expected, they were pretty impressive and it's still totally incomprehensible as to how these things could ever have been constructed. I spent some time wandering around the three Pyramids, and before I left I opted to purchase a ticket that allowed me to enter the interior chamber of the 2nd Pyramid. It was about a 10 minute (hot and humid) walk into the center.
The overwhelming heat and humidity in this passage is due to the abundance of human traffic that passes through this corridor on a daily basis, something that The Ancient Egyptians obviously never anticipated. Their construction methods were done in such a way that a near freezing temperature would be achieved in the most interior spaces of the Pyramids. The layering of Limestone (interior layers) and Granite (exterior layer) made this all possible.

My images of The Pyramids are a bit deceiving. Anyone that has visited the complex before knows that the city of Cairo has more or less overtaken area. You can stuff your face with fried chicken at KFC or sip a milk shake at McDonald's with a front row seat of The Great Pyramids. It's a shame, really. Below is an image of a home 'For Sale'. It seems affordable, but is on the market for millions, maybe even billions (There were so many huge figures being tossed around today that I eventually lost track). These shanty homes are built upon one of the Sphinx's, thus the sky high asking price.

Everyone in Cairo owns a satelite dish. Apparently you can get thousands of channels with just one little dish, go figure! It makes for interesting roofscapes!

FUN FACT: While driving around Cairo today I saw building after building, neighorhood after neighborhood, suburb after suburb that all seemed like huge construction sites. Upon inquiring I learned that in Egypt people do not need to pay property tax if their building is 'unfinished' on the exterior. For this reason many poor people choose to finish only the interior spaces of their dwellings. I'm still trying to make sense of it all...

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