Claustrophobia Strikes in Cheops Pyramid!
Going to Egypt had been a dream of mine since I can remember. From old Hollywood movies to reports in grammar school, I was fascinated by the pharaohs, their tombs, their pyramids, all of it. Visiting the pyramids of Giza was not something I was passing up!
When we were heading to the pyramid fields, we were prepared for a couple of things. We were ready for the touts. We were ready to pay more than the locals (a lot more). We were ready to see lots and lots of tourists, psyching ourselves up to be patient and wait for it…wait for that perfect shot.
What I wasn’t prepared for was claustrophobia. Have I ever told you I’m a bit claustrophobic? It’s not debilitating. It’s not a huge handicap, but every once in a while it kicks me in the stomach and I double over with fear.
You are more than welcome to enter the largest pyramid, for an extra fee of course, and we were keen to do so. From the bright sunlight to a dark interior you step. The temperature is comfortable with a long-sleeved shirt, and you start to get that feeling of Wow! I am in a place that has been on this planet for thousands of years. Did I want to go up to the next level? Heck yes I did!
Oops, and here comes the but…. To climb to the next level, the authorities have built a wooden pathway. Even with my 5 foot 3 inch height, I had to stoop. So far, so good. But then! Then I heard noise. Lots of noise. I heard a tour coming down. I staggered back out of the wooden frame. Down came people one, two…three side by side. They kept coming and coming. My vision starts twirling, filling me up. I can’t breathe! I have no idea how many people there were, but I just knew that I would be smashed up against the wall and not be able to move in this small wooden tomb. As much as I liked tombs, I didn’t want to die…not in this one. No thanks!
As it turns out, the people coming out of this squarish tube were Japanese. With tears streaming down my face, I kept asking them. Kowai ne? It’s scary, isn’t it? They didn’t agree, and probably were thinking that the only scary thing they had seen was me. Well, I was scared. Really scared. Scared so bad that I was gasping, crying, and desperately trying to get a grip. Humiliation always makes these situations worse, don’t they?
Finally, after about 15 minutes, and giving up trying to convince the Japanese that it really was scary, I started to calm down. The tourists dissipated. Jim and the girls came down to get me. They tried to convince me it was all right. Just try it. But I kept thinking that I might get up there, but what happens if another tour comes and I couldn’t get down? Nope, I was staying right there. I told them to go back up and enjoy themselves. I had no problem waiting. No problem at all.
So all in all, I never went up to the second level. I did go in the pyramid. I just didn’t see the whole thing, and you know what? I’m okay with that. As far as I’m concerned, visiting…and crying in an Egyptian pyramid was truly a once in a lifetime experience!