For the entire semester we have been looking forward to the day we’d see the pyramids at Giza and on our first Saturday in Cairo we finally were able to. Trust me when I say being close enough to graze your hand along the towering stones that make up one of the Wonders of the World falls nothing short of unbelievable. Immediately upon getting off the bus we climbed right inside the Great Pyramid and up a steep ladder to the king’s tomb. Talk about a great way to start the day. Unparalleled history, anyone? After the shock of standing at the base of one of the most talked about architectural feats of all time started to subside and a few pictures had been taken we finally took time to survey the area around the pyramids. The typical salesmen who swarm every tourist site were plentiful. Men holding ropes attached to large camels lingered here and there. What weren’t present were the throngs of western tourists we expected. In fact, we realized with surprise that our group of 16 was the minority among the hundreds of Egyptian school children flocking around the pyramids. At first the children were shy, staring from a distance. But when their stares where met by our smiles they began to approach us.
“Meg. What is your name?” I reply.
Embarrassed and smiling he says “Ahmed,” he points to the boy next to him wearing a matching outfit to his “Youssef.”
“Picture?” he asks indicating to me with his camera.
“Of me?” I ask confused, but without answering he snaps a picture and runs off with this brother giggling happily.
I turn back to the group to tell them what had happened but before I get far I feel a tap on my shoulder.
“Picture?” a teenage girl asks.
Before I can answer three girls entangle me in their arms while a forth takes a photo.
This occurrence of having my picture taken like a celebrity happens frequently throughout the day. As we make our way around the pyramids each group member is approached and pictures are taken. No one informed us we were celebrities in Egypt but judging by the attention we received, we are a big deal. When we stop to listen to our private guide, children suddenly appear to take pictures, to gawk and, for the most brazen, to stand amongst our ranks mirroring our attentiveness to the information being shared with us in a language they don’t really understand. When we go inside the Cheops boat museum we push through hoards of children who smile up at us, take pictures and ask us our names. The museum security guards block the door with their bodies to keep the groups of chattering children away from us so we can see the boat in peace. It’s a mob scene better fit for a movie premier not us: 16 sweating and stinky Americans walking into a dusty museum.
Strange as our unprecedented celebrity was, I can’t say we didn’t like it. It is pretty flattering to have person after person ask to pose with you for a photo. I just wished I had known so I could have dressed the part, well as best as I could given my limited wardrobe. Wearing my dirty Chaco’s, discolored Hanes shirt, and target sunglasses, I would have shielded my face and dramatically said “No pictures please.”