Sly, and the Family Stone

Linda Lou Burton posting about Cairo, Egypt from Little Rock, Arkansas – Remember the 2010 TV show Idiot Abroad, where Ricky Gervais sent the bumbling Karl Pilkington around the world to see the Seven Wonders? The premise was that Karl knew nothing about “the Wonders” and much preferred staying home within his comfort zone. So how does such a person perceive what s/he sees when traveling? It was meant to be funny. And it was, it hit the charts. One episode was “Karl at the Pyramids.” Ricky pulled the strings; first Karl was made to ride round and round on a camel looking for the pyramids; then he visited a couple who believed aliens built the pyramids, so evening chanting with a sneak inside a pyramid. At the end Karl sits staring at the pyramids; they are crawling with tourists, and the wind is blowing dust and chunks of trash in swirls, right into his face. His comment: “Why is this a Wonder? All I see is dirty nappies flying round.”

Ah, tourists. That story makes me think of what goes on at Uluru, with the “white ants climbing the rock.” And yes, the mad crush inside the giant cathedrals, and mosques, on my Portugal-Spain-Morocco guided tour last year. It was a mob-like push and shove, with photo ops. All timed, to fit the agenda before hopping back onto the bus.

The Pyramids at Giza, and the Great Sphinx have endured not only “the tourist crowd” for centuries, but destruction, pilfering, and theft, whether for research to explain them, or for profit, or simply because of a difference of opinion as to how things are in the world, or ought to be. Everyone has their version.

Last night I had a vivid dream, I guess it came out of my NDI RTW “touristy” visit to the Pyramids, especially that garish evening light show. The dream was my own fictional version of these desert edifices. It’s pretty simple. The Pyramids are tombs, and the Sphinx is a grave stone. I have visited many cemeteries in my years of genealogy research. The size and design of grave stones varies according to the wealth of a family, and their beliefs. Angels? Tiny lambs for babies? I’ve seen stones with baseball bats and fishing rods engraved; or memorable quotes, like “Precious Mother,” or that funny one “I told you I was sick.”

Think Charlton Heston now. Playing a powerful wealthy ruler, way back before Egypt was even Egypt. Long before he dies, he orders a mighty structure built in which to store everything he’ll need in the afterlife; plus the treasures he doesn’t want anyone else to have. As the worker bees in his reign cut the sandstone into blocks to build his magnificent FRP, and the quarry hole deepens, an ambitious young fellow seeking a promotion presents Charlton with an idea –“Let’s go ahead and sculpt your marker as we remove the stones for your tomb, what design would you like?” Charlton answers, “A big lion to guard my tomb, but a lion with my face on it, so everyone is fooled into thinking I still watch them.” “Ah, master, you are indeed a sly one,” the young fellow said, nodding. And so you have the Sphinx; on duty, sand and wind and tourists be hanged.