I scrape my head on the low roof as I enter, dropping my tiny flashlight. “Ow,” I mumble, annoyed. I search the ground for my flashlight As soon as I find it, I continue on.
The grey, rocky tunnel continues for what seem like miles. As I climb further, I brace my hands against the rough hewn walls, carved thousands of years ago. Tiny wooden boards are placed on the floor so that you don’t slip. With the angle of the tunnel, a slip like that could mean death. I slowly make my way further downward, every step bringing me deeper into history. The path is lit by dim, flickering lights. I can only see a few feet in front of me. The walls of the tunnel are moist and slippery, as if they are wet. Or that could just be my palms.
Ahead of me, the downward slope of the tunnel ends, and I can’t see what lies beyond. The tunnel is narrow here, enough to repel anyone with even the slightest claustrophobia. I make my way closer to the yawning opening. As I pass through, I gasp in awe. “The Grand Gallery,” I whisper.
I am inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, built 4,500 years ago for the pharaoh. As king of Egypt, the pharaoh was placed to rest in these very tunnels. He was then supposed to be sealed off for the rest of eternity. He probably didn’t think that tourists would find their way inside.
I turn on my flashlight and shine it at the farthest corners of the Gallery. Here, the tunnel gets much wider and slopes upward. The walls, formerly rough, are now as smooth as glass. They meet at the top of the hall to form a pyramid shape, 20 feet above our heads. The whole room is grandiose, fit for the Pharaoh. “Wow,” I say to myself.
I start to climb higher, toward the Pharaoh’s burial chamber. I get ever more excited the closer I get. Everything looks just like I had imagined it. I search the left side of the Gallery for the secret passage discovered by archaeologists, but am unable to find it. I run my fingers along the stone benches that line the walls. I can see the end of the Gallery. Pretty soon, I am gripping the railing and heaving myself over the large stone slab that marks the end of the Gallery.
The Pharaoh’s Chamber! It is a tall, boxy room with a low ceiling. A small fan putters away in the corner. Electrical lights flicker and hum noisily. Not quite the vision of grandeur that the name suggests! But I don’t care. I love the room anyway. This was where the pharaoh was buried! That’s what makes this place worth seeing.
I begin to investigate the room with my tiny circle of light. Soon, I discover the small openings in the walls that have been termed the “air shafts” by archaeologists. They go all the way to the exterior of the pyramid, and may have served a religious purpose. I also see the huge, broken sarcophagus that lies at the center of the room. I walk over to it. It is completely empty, and one corner is snapped off. Was this where the pharaoh was placed? Maybe.
I enjoy the room of the Pharaoh for a few more minutes, all too aware that my time here is growing short. No, my time here is out. Taking one last look at the sarcophagus, I reluctantly turn and leave the chamber. Down through the Gallery I go. Down through the little opening in the wall. Back up through the Tunnel. Finally, I step out into the warm light of the Egyptian sun, out of the magic of the pyramid, and back into the real world.