by plane, car, rail, boat, and carriage i have traversed the egyptian countryside. today i added horse.

M is a fan of doing things that other people don't do – part of the reason we get along so well – so when i told him i was coming and wanted off the beaten track egypt he started researching. don't get me wrong, there are the musts…giza pyramids and nile cruise…that anyone who comes here MUST do or feel cheated. but there is a world beyond tourist buses/boats racing each other up and down paved roads and undulating water.

yesterday's trip to the step pyramid (zoser complex) in saqqara (depending on how you want to spell it) was us beginning to venture off tourists usuals. we saw a few tour buses but nothing like giza no crowds like luxor inducing egyptians to sell any incarnation of made-in-china crap a tourist might look twice at.

today we saddled horses and headed back in that general direction to abu sir. luckily the horse lady – maryanne -has local knowledge and got us through the gates and into the desert where we trotted along gazing into the hazy distance to squint at the outlines of the step pyramid and far off in the gritty distance – giza.

after circling us around the crumbling pyramid – eyeing a fox wandering in the shadow – we ended up at a discarded sarcophagus. empty of course. no lid to be found. but in an interesting position for pictures.

from there we trotted back through the farming village (it is remarkable how in one moment you are in the desert with no green growing and the next nestled in the lushness of the nile). we trotted back – bum bumping against my saddle – trotting between kids with cap guns and women in colorful scarves holding babies bundled against the "cold" (it was like 75 or 80 degrees).

after disembarking we headed on to dashur for the bent and red pyramids. now you are talking even fewer tourists.

the bent pyramid -chronologically speaking – is after the step and before the red. i'll post pictures eventually but you can tell the bent because it is imperfect. the angle was to severe and they had to bring it in at the top to hold the weight. it is its imperfection that makes it interesting to look at. that and the vast amounts of limestone covering (like the tip of khafre in giza) are added appeal.

the red pyramid…still the third tallest despite being the first complete accurate all stone pyramid…is beautiful against the desert. even more so against the sky, clouds floating almost out of place in the egyptian sky. the usual cairo haze was clearing.

after gazing up we began the trek…a fairly steep climb to a hole in the middle which leads to a steep decline through darkness…think reverse womb travels…into one of the most interesting pyramid interiors. there you can see the stepped sides coming together in an angular arch.

the smell of ammonia was acrid in the airless space…but even that was well worth the tiring climb.

between that climb and the horseback riding…tomorrow should be an interesting time for my body to betray me.

the final pleasure of today was driving down a local canal road for a few kilometers until we happened upon a spot maryanne told us about. a marshy lake with the bent and red pyramids behind it. "it looks like something out of a children's bible" she said, and she wasn't wrong.

from there – the sky exceptionally clear – we headed back to cairo and were surprised to see the giza pyramids emerge to our left. usually the cairo grit prevents a clear view but the sky so blue on one side left me wanting a photo. unable to find a place we got on the freeway and drove until it ends (they found antiquities during the building and had to stop) and there, found a beautiful spot to see all three pyramids in a clear blue sky in front of shamrock green farmland. it would be an every day sight if it weren't for the pollution.

a beautiful close to an off the beaten track kind of day.

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