Egypt Day 14 (Pyramids, Camels and Sphinx, Oh My)
First full day touring Egypt, and it certainly lived up to the hype. Our first few stops gave us a look at Ancient Egypt as influenced by Joseph. We came to “Joseph’s Lake,” a body of water dug out by Joseph to create fertile land far away from the Nile. Also on the agenda was “Joseph’s Pyramid,” while not looking exactly like a pyramid was built in Joseph’s time. Next to the pyramid is the canal made from the Nile to Joseph’s Lake.
After these brief stops, we came to a papyrus workshop. The demonstration on how papyrus is made was amazing. The paper created from papyrus is flexible, durable, and even when a piece is torn apart it can be fused back together again with just water and pressure. The paintings done on authentic papyrus were beautiful, and expensive.
Then came the highlight of the day, the Pyramids of Giza. They are as awe-inspiring as you would think. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the perfection and intricacy of the pyramids. The stones themselves used to built them can way hundred of tons. Standing at the base of the Great Pyramid would dwarf anyone.
I had promised to ride a camel when we arrived in Egypt, and I kept my word. Myself, Matt and another traveller took a ten minute ride around the Pyramids. It was actually a lot of fun! Moving from the pyramids we saw the Sphinx. Another man-made marvel. Everyone of course wanted to know what happened to the nose of the Sphinx. Apparently, when France had invaded Egypt, French snipers used the nose as target practice….yeah. The beard of the Sphinx is located in a British museum, so the face looks nothing like it’s supposed to.
Our guide asked us a question as we were leaving, “Do you think the pyramids were built through faith, force or a little of both?” Most of us agreed that the people building must have had a mixture of the two, but the answer is 100% faith. The Egyptians who built the pyramids (which was before the time of the Israelites) were never forced, but willingly, and wanting, built the pyramids. The main reasons for this is 1) In that time, the Pharaoh or King was though to be 100% God. So when the King decreed the building of the pyramids, it was as if a command from God.
What really hit me was this statement: “Perfection cannot be forced, it must come from the heart.” When slavery is used to make people do something, their heart is not in it and the end product cannot be perfect. But when people desire to do something out of their own free will, the thing they create has the potential for perfection. And the Pyramids required perfection in order to be constructed to the exact measurements and angles. I believe that this reasoning may also apply to God and His people. How could he ask us to be perfect and we not have free will? If it were forced, our heart would not be in it and perfection would be unattainable. But since following Him is a choice, we can strive together for perfection.
We returned to the hotel for a few hours (stopping by an Egyptian Starbucks, which is not as good as the States) and left for the train station. The car ride through the streets of Cairo were something to behold. No visible lanes, no streetlights, pedestrians crossing the four lane road randomly, men, women and babies all on one motorcycle…it was madness. It’s a wonder there weren’t more accidents as our driver navigated a large tour bus through the streets. Somehow though, the Egyptian people are used to this, but I assure you, New York driving has nothing on this.
At the train station there was an interesting mix of travelers. Tourists, natives and others were all present. The train to Luxor has it’s own character as well. Bunk beds, a sink and our bags all fit inside a tiny room. Sleep was sporadic, and since I was on the top bunk I feared for my life. But we made it nonetheless, to Luxor.
Photo Link: http://gallery.me.com/ssrobles/100483