Walk Like an Egyptian
Cairo’s streets pulsate with intoxicating chaos.


Deroy Murdock

Many Egyptian drivers also have an inexplicable habit of traveling at night with their lights off. Pedestrians, thus, cross streets both swiftly and gingerly. As long as one is alert to the point of hypersensitivity, one can leave the Qasr-al-Nil Bridge, for example, by jumping out of the way before a pair of unlit motorcycles bears down uncomfortably close and from seemingly nowhere. A nearby sidewalk on the riverfront Nile Corniche seems safer — until one young cyclist obliviously zips along the shadowy asphalt at high speed while foolishly studying his mobile phone.

After all of this, a little quietude might be welcome. If so, look no further than the Pyramids at Giza. They truly are as huge and stunning as one expects, unlike many major landmarks (Red Square comes to mind) that are impressive, but not quite awe-inspiring in person. One is positively dwarfed while thinking, “My God! I’m really here.” Mercifully, the massive cut stones that compose, respectively, the three Pyramids of Cheops, Khafre, and Menkaure are as silent as the nearby Sphinx. There is little human competition for the tranquility of the searing sunshine and a slight, hot breeze across the blistering sands. One positive externality of Egypt’s unfortunate tourism slowdown is that widely dispersed visitors can marvel contemplatively at the sole survivor among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Surprisingly, the pyramids no longer are alone among the dunes, far from downtown Cairo. Urbanization has brought modernity and antiquity face to face. In fact, shops, apartments, and even an OiLibya service station line the streets of Giza, just outside the pyramids’ fenced-off complex. While this slightly dampens the mystery of the experience, seeing these enormous tombs of the pharaohs up close is a momentous privilege, and well worth a visit to these very special acres — and the far louder, zanier city that pulsates a short drive away.

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.