(author of The Roman Mysteries)
Today is a day of pyramids. We see a red pyramid, a bent pyramid, a mud pyramid, a rubble pyramid and an off-limits pyramid. We travel to sites south of Cairo: Dahshur, Saqqara and Abusir. We are mainly alone at these sites and not hassled by other groups and touts.
Nevertheless, my favourite thing is driving through the villages, seeing life unchanged after 4000 years: a woman carrying a circular tray on her head, it was piled with disc-shaped pieces of bread. I see a donkey drawn cart, a butcher taking cuts from a side of beef hanging in the street. In a palm grove a man squats by a campfire while his friend is stretched out on the earth behind him, fast asleep. All the women here wear headscarves and the men all have skullcaps or turbans. Some ride donkeys astride, with their feet straight out, others ride side-saddle. In a mastaba at the site of Saqqara I spot several reliefs of the oxyrhynchus or sharp-nosed fish!
At Abusir, a site not usually open to tourists, we see one of the earliest columns with a capital. This one has a lotus capital. I ask Joclyn if she has ever seen a blue lotus. She says only twice. Once at the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in Cairo and once at the Pharaonic Village. The Pharaonic Village is a kind of educational display on an island in Cairo with living tableaux of ancient life along the banks of the Nile. She explains how it came to be. 25 years ago an Egyptian named Hassan Regeb wanted to research how papyrus was made but discovered that none of the original Nile papyrus plants had survived. So he bought a plot of marshy land cheap from the government on condition that after he grew his papyrus he would make it a tourist attraction. It sounds good.
[I was researching Roman Mystery 15, The Scribes from Alexandria. It is now available in paperback, Kindle and as an abridged audiobook, and is perfect for primary schools studying Egypt in Key Stage 2.]