There is now officially Egyptian dirt on my bike. Also there is Egyptian cow poop, motor oil, goat pee, and who knows what else. The ride to some of the lesser pyramids today was short (20K) and hectic. We had to ride in pretty heavy traffic through the outskirts of Giza to get there. My periphrial vision was filled with flashes of interesting buildings, people, and crop fields while my focus was on avoiding the sand, pot holes, cow dung and speeding honking vehicles. Kids jump into the street to give me hi fives (I'm over that already) Adults point, laugh and cheer. The smells are so potent and mixed, before you have time to process one smell you're assaulted by another. I wish I had taken a video but frankly I was too scared to taken my hands off the bars for long.
Cycling alone on that route would by challenging, but manageable. But with 48 cyclist in a long convoy and me being responsible for their safety.... it was a good eye opener. Everyone did well though and I think we all learned a lot about what to expect and a few do's and don'ts. We got to the pyramid site and were instantly greeted by two egytian fellows who told us it was 10 eqyptian pounds (LE) to walk up to the pyramids. That's like 2 bucks, but I thought we deserved a discount. In the process of our brief negotiation it became obvious that these guys had no Authority to let up in, or take our money. Then the cops showed up (I know! right?) They called over the two men and had a brief convo. Then I was called over and the officer said simply "These pyramids are forbidden" but he had a combined look of weary, disgust and anger on his face that said soooo much more. I thanked him politely and told him we would be leaving. They escorted us all the way back home.
Three days in and I like the staff more and more each day. One of the indaba staff pulled me aside this evening and said " I want to give you a compliment" in that o so unique south african twang. "It's rare that you find an american who is not so much full of bull shit" she said. Made me smile, and made me feel good. My impression is that for South Africans "no bull shit" is a way of life, it might even be on their license plates.
I've gotten to know my roomate Erik best. He's our communication officer. He updates teh blog, takes care of a lot of expensive equipment (3 sat phones, 1 BGAN satellite internet unit, a dozen cell phones, cameras, laptops etc...) He's from Toronto and just left his job as a logistics manager for a Childrens Hospital to do the tour. He has worked for the WWF in Nepal, before they became the WWE I think (lol). He's very likeable, has a ton of enthusiasm and energy. He geeks out on music, technology, medical kits, gear in general and seems to have a real thirst for knowledge. Our sleep schedules are very different. he stays up later and I get up earlier but neither of us is bothered if the other uses the computer, watches, tv or whatever, while the other sleeps. And he's been super generous with the use of his computer, a sweet macbook pro.
Well, I could write forever tonight, I think the larium pills are giving me a bit of insomnia, but I'll stop there. More about staff tomorrow. Saturday we ride from the Great Pyramids on to al point south so expect fewer posts after that. Take care.