The Desert of the East

In the exit of Luxor, the police stopped me again and I wasn’t allowed to continue cycling, taking it a couple of hours. The Convoy passed at 2:00 pm and due to the new Egyptian laws I had to get in on one of its patrol cars. It took two minutes to load my bicycle in the van that headed the caravan, and then we went to Qena. But finally I found out that it was more dangerous to travel with the police at high speed and pure honk opening our passing through the convoy of more than 30 vehicles that to cycle alone and to venture to local people.

From Qena to the Cairo, our road strayed toward the Red Sea because the option of skirting the Nile is dangerous for the police. Because of this, my route continued across another desert, this time was the Desert of the east.

The asphalt of the route was good, during almost all my way I could see dozens of oil wells, but the distances among populations, were sometimes too long. The difficult thing in these months of winter was the wind that blew with atrocious force from the north, not allowing me to advance more than 10 or 12 km/h.

As I went pedaling I understood how the history of the nation of Egypt was characterized by its isolation based on the existence of deserts. The desert of Nubia in the south, the one in the east and west spreading from the end of the flourishing margins of the Nile and the desert of the Sinaí in the north.

Today more than 90% of its population live in the banks of their great river.

Cairo, the end of Africa. – Km 29,352

I arrived in Cairo on the end of afternoon, the last day of 2003. It was a smoggy day. I was happy, at last I was concluding the african stage after 17.000 kilometers, although it took me three times more than I had programmed. The journey had changed. Finally I have started to believe in myself, because in spite of I lost my Argentinean sponsors I could keep going, with African sponsors. I was in high spirits, I was in Cairo. And the Sheraton Hotel invited me with a free week stay. I felt like a VIP.

The great metropolis

On the Nile river, a giant city also lies The Cairo; the biggest city of Africa, 17 million inhabitants and maybe other 10 of vehicles. Their people are unique,that is to say, to go for a walk in the city can be as interesting as visiting the best museums.

Here, everybody shouts a lot, therefore the city and its noise are felt as only one thing.

The system of transport is very particular and the collectors of the minibuses not only do they shout a lot, soometimes they also discuss pulling their passenger’s arms trying to convince them to go in.

The waiters of the restaurants are not kind enough when they invite you to sit down at one of their tables to eat their traditional plate “the koshari”, or simply those assistants that try to sell you a perfume with little calm in the small shops downtown.

The certain thing is that there are too much people and a lot of traffic. It seems as the space is three-dimensional. Above, you have highways that hide the sunbearns and below there are subways, long, so long as curious. The first boxcars are exclusively for women, according to the customs of the Islam, they should not mix with men, but, in fact, not all travel in the front part of the subway.

At the nights Cairo doesn’t rest, everything is the same; everybody goes out and meet in the streets or in the bars, to chat or to smoke in one of their big pipes tobacco with apple flavour. It doesn’t matter where you are, but walking around the back streets of this exotic place, I have found smells and colors, of all the species that perfume this great city.

The Pyramids

In the Old Kingdom (2.675 – 2.250 B.C.) the kings were strengthening their control and they got more and more the resources of the country to the preparation of their tombs. The first architects worked with bricks of mud, but in the dynasty III, they created even bigger stone pyramids. The high nobility was only buried in them, although the wealthy noblemen made build their own tombs, too.

Great part of the works was carried out in the months when the Nile overflowed on the cultivated fields, inthis way, the king could use the unemployed farmers temporarily.

For the old Egyptian the pyramids were the tombs to preserve the bodies of their dead kings, because they believed in resurrection and in immortality.

The Great Pyramid of Keops was built by the king Khufu (Keops) of the dynasty IV, around the year 2650 B.C. Its current height is 137 mts, but its original height was 146. They were almost used 2,5 million stone blocks and it has their base of 230 mts, but the astonishing of this whole great work is the precision and the ability which they worked more than 4.500 years ago.

I was told by one of the guides of the place, each stone step was covered of sand, creating in this way, a ramp on which they dragged the new blocks, and very slowly the Great Pyramid was risen.

Kefren was the son of Keops, and he also sent to build his pyramid. This, to the Southwest of the Great Pyramid is recognized by the lining of calcareous stone that at some time covered it entirely and its height is 1,5 inferior mts to that of his father’s.

The third Pyramid is of the King Menkaure (Mikerinos) of 66 mts of heigh. It is also to the Southwest of the Great and of the Second Pyramid.

The sphinx or “Father of the fear” (Abu the Hol in Arabic) with lion body and human head, represents tthe King’s body Kefren, guardian of the royalty. It has 20 mts of height and 70 of lenght and it communicates through a corridor of great inclination to the second pyramid.

Nowadays, the complex of the pyramids, is nearly all fenced and the entrance is not expensive, the equivalent of about 3 u$s, what I really found excessive were the 15 u$s you need to enter to the Great Pyramid.

And as I didn’t know if some day I would return there, I paid the cost of it, although a native person advise me to visit the smallest one whose value was much less. As he explained that the only difference among the pyramids was the size, because the structures are identical.

The visit lasted some minutes, the time that took me to go up and down in an inclined position through the long and I low corridor that drives toward the center of the pyramid. There, there is the camera of the Pharaoh and his sarcophagus, a small room, made of stone and which is very hot.

During my stay in the Cairo, I visited the pyramids twice, it seems that the advance of the constructions also surrenders in front of them, here the desert begins but the great city finishes too, and paradoxically, just in front of the millennial Pharaonic monuments, you can find a famous symbol of the western world: Pizza Hut.

Pablo Garcia en Cairo - Vuelta al mundo en bicicleta

If you wish to know more about my trip, get the documentary: The World by Bike