Cairo, Egypt

Friday, February 1, 1929

I walked some seven miles out to the pyramids, pestered all along the way by guides who refuse no for an answer and hang on and on. About half of them claim to be sons of the sheik. Then I know they are worse liars than the other half. Some, though, are really nice young men and now that I have their number, I hand back everything that they hand me. It often ends by their finally giving up, shaking hands, and calling me their friend and a good fellow and leaving me with their address, etc. But they are pests, as are the multitude of street vendors of canes, jewelry, etc., all refusing to go away.

I started to climb Cheops but a cop called me back because I had no ticket. Then I got a ticket for 10 piasters and after a royal argument with guides, who told me of people who had taken the quick way down because they had no guides, started up by myself. The old sheik who sold tickets waived all responsibility, so I guess I was a sure goner. However, I had no trouble getting to the top, even though I met an American and his guide coming down who told me of a guideless man who had recently  descended rather in a hurry. The view from the top is splendid. 451 feet up, and you can see a number of other pyramids, the Sphinx, some old temples, the ruins of an old city, and Cairo in the distance. To the south and west the desert stretches unbroken to the horizon. An old Arab selling tea up there pointed out the things of interest and took my picture.

The real danger lies in the descent—which is natural enough. The old side looks nearly straight down and one slip and it may be too bad. The thing I was especially careful of was the wind for it was so strong that it might easily catch you off balance. A crowd gathered to see me meet my maker, but were disappointed. Next, after much haggling, I got a guide and ticket and visited the inside. First up a long galley six feet wide and about 90 feet high to the king’s chamber, 225 feet up and in the center of the pyramid. The entrance to it was through a tunnel. The room was plain, with two air shafts and the solid granite coffin in which the king was laid. The blocks of stone are 5 x 8 x 11 and weigh 19 tons. The queen’s chamber is directly below the king’s and is entered through a long tunnel some three feet high. It has a sloped ceiling, two air shafts, and a tunnel in back of where her coffin was, where her jewels etc. were placed.

Next we descended a long steep tunnel some 200 feet or more to a very low tunnel full of dust where I nearly had to crawl. At the end was the Temple of the Sphinx where the priest was buried. It is very interesting, far down below the ground, and is more like a cave. In it is a deep well. The pyramid is quite warm inside. When I had seen all I could inside (there are five rooms—one above the other—above the king’s chamber but very hard to get to), I took a camel ride for a while, spending most of the time arguing about the price with the driver. They are queer beasts, but fun to ride. We rode around the Sphinx and saw its huge claws, recently excavated, and also the temple by it. I started back about 3 and took a streetcar the last 3 miles. Saw a funeral on the way back. Four Arabs carrying a plain wooden coffin draped with a piece of cloth and preceded by some 50 men and women, all walking, the men sometimes singing a chant. The day before I saw a wedding procession by some 30 persons including some eight or ten musicians who played as they marched along.

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