Where’s the Visitor’s Center?

Could someone please point me towards the Visitor’s Center … or maybe the gift shop …or maybe even one of those little plaques that explains the history or science behind what I’m looking at?  Anything?

Have you ever been to Yellow Stone National Park?  How ’bout Mount Rushmore?  Maybe a battleship museum?  Next time you go somewhere …anywhere in the States, don’t take those little information kiosks for granted.  You know what I’m talking about, right.  Everything in the States is marked. We have huge signs on the interstates … all the state lines are marked and then you are promptly greeted with a Welcome Center (some even serve drinks).  Every national park is full of well marked tourist look-outs and information pamphlets and park rangers to guide you through your experience.  There is no national landmark that is not roped off, well preserved and protected — no touching.  There is always a visitors center and lovely little mementos for purchase so you can always remember your fabulous, culture rich, & educational experience.

This is not so in Egypt.  So far, we have seen the great pyramids of Giza, we have been to the Egyptian museum, we have visited Memphis (the oldest capital in the world) & Saqqara.  We frequent the Khan. We have sailed the Nile in a Felucca.  Egypt is very rich in history.  It’s difficult for me to even comprehend how old this stuff is …. literally, from the beginning of time.  Yet, I have no pamphlets to show for my excursions.  There was no visitors center to peruse through.  There was no plaque or information board to explain to me what I was seeing.  Nothing to enrich my experience.

Can you imagine going to see the pyramids?  These things are ancient.  They are huge.  Everyone in the world learns about them in school …. repeatedly.  Even little kids .. like Kindergartners know about pyramids.  The only one of the seven ancient wonders of the world that still exists. I got to go see this!  This is huge!  I was so excited before we left … Seriously amazing opportunity.  We started the drive out there.  They are about 30 minutes out of town in the greater Cairo area.  Of course, they are huge, so we get glimpses of the pyramids on the way.  You can see them from several places on the interstate as you get close.  We arrive.  We drive up this little road.  So exciting!  We get out.  We buy tickets from this creepy guy behind a counter with bars on it.  Nothing spectacular so far … just the ticket booth.  We walk through the metal detectors (they are everywhere here and they rarely serve a purpose other than slowing you down).  We walk up this little sidewalk and there they are.  Pyramids.  Pyramids surrounded by sand.  Thats it.  Slightly anti-climatic.  I’m American.  I expected a visitors center.  I expected ropes and guards.  I expected a short informative film.  Something … anything to prove I was seeing something awesome.  Nothing.

Luckily, we had hired a tour guide.  🙂  He served as our source of information.  And — he was awesome.  I learned so much.  And I learned to appreciated the lack of ropes and guards.  It makes for a very authentic experience.  There was definitely a sign that said “No Climbing”.  Josh was definitely climbing.  The guards (apparently there were some around) show up out of nowhere — the tour guide paid them off and they left us alone.  We went inside the great pyramid.  We walked around it.  We touched it.  We climbed on it.  We took pictures.  It was awesome.

So.  I am again adapting to the Egyptian way.  Maybe it’s more the “I’m an American who lives in Egypt way.”  Something tells me the Egyptians don’t hire tours guides … shoot, I doubt they even go see the sights.  Anyway, the point is …. it’s different, but I’m working with it.  And, OMG!!!!  I saw the GREAT PYRAMIDS OF GIZA!!!!  not mention a few others, and the giant statue of Ramses, and all of the treasures found in King Tut’s tomb, and some mummies ……..the list goes on.  🙂

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