On the first day after checking into the Cataract Pyramids Resort, we were given the afternoon to settle into our rooms.
Because my folks and I were traveling with Traveler's Cheques, we needed to cash and exchange some for Egyptian Pounds. We had hoped to do this at the Resort's bank but they were having problems with their machine that connected to the Cairo Bank. As the lastest scam in Egypt was forged Traveler's Cheques, they were very unwilling to cash the cheques without this verification system.
Well, this was the very beginning of our Egyptian adventure and what really solidified in my head that I was actually in Egypt because we actually left the Cataract to go to Mena House. As we sat in the back of the taxi, listening to Egyptian music, we viewed the sites of the traffic of Giza/Cairo traffic. This traffic makes the Beltway (in DC) seem tame.
Not only had traffic squeezed a third lane out of a two lane road, but donkey and horse drawn carts sat in traffic with the automobiles. We actually saw a donkey licking the rear window of a car because traffic was bumper to bumper. As we drove closer to the Mena House we noticed the Pyramids suddenly rising above the Giza cityscape.
This was the absolute site that hit me hard, solidifying the fact that we were not in just some foreign country, but in Egypt! In fact the Mena House was directly across from the Great Pyramids (definitely within walking distance).
Once cashing our cheques, we returned to Cataract.
In the early evening, we had a nice buffet dinner at the resort and had our informational meeting. Afterwards, we relaxed by the pool and tried some of the Egyptian beverages. I learned that I was just as attractive to the local misquitoes as I am at home but we stayed out hoping to stay up long enough to see the full lunar eclipse that was supposed to be fully visible in northern Africa.
It turned out that the eclipse was supposed to start much later in the evening than the 9 PM we had heard in Dulles Airport news on CNN. We guessed that the time we had heard was EST and forced ourselves to go to bed instead, because we knew we had (what we thought at the time was) an early morning. But as I was getting ready for bed, an Egyptian wedding reception started, complete with all the celebration and music. It was very interesting to watch but finally I was able to fall asleep.
Finally arrive in Egypt! We arrived late in the morning and had to deal with some vicious jet lag.