I have been to Egypt ! Let me tell you what it was like
I have been to Egypt ! Let me tell you what it was like
I did a lot of traveling years ago. I have been to several countries on four continents (and 49 of the 50 states plus Puerto Rico – I am missing only Alaska ).
Egypt . Wow, where do I begin? We were in Alexandria , but the tour I took along with several other Americans was to go to the Cairo museum and later the pyramids of Giza (and the Sphinx)!
The Cairo museum was interesting but I didn’t remember much about it other than them talking about Mark Antony and Cleopatra as well as Queen Nefertiti and of course King Tutankhamun. Yawn.
We got back on the tour bus (which had the driver and a female tour guide) and she started telling us about ‘The City of the dead’. She kept saying “And over here you still have ‘The City of the dead’… and over there you still have ‘The City of the dead’…”
Then it happened – oh my goodness, a guy and his camel was crossing the road in front of our driver and he had to slam on the brakes! We narrowly missed this pedestrian and the camel. I laughed hard when one American in the back of the bus made a smart ass comment “Oh wow, we almost had camel burgers for dinner!”
But as we were leaving Cairo on our trek to Giza , since it was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, the traffic leaving the city was awful. That stands to reason though, in America it is the same way. People live in the suburbs and work in the cities and the traffic is bad in the mornings going into cities and in the afternoon leaving it. Same way here!
The traffic leaving Cairo would not move, and yet very few people were driving in the other direction (into the city). Suddenly the tour bus driver started driving on the wrong side of the road. I was in shock and horror! Oh my goodness, a car is coming! They would honk their horn at us and I would close my eyes in fright. We went about a mile or two on the wrong side of the road and went around the long line of cars sitting there until a cop pulled us over!
Oh no! So naturally we are thinking that the cop would arrest the tour bus driver leaving us all stranded there AND WE WOULD LITERALLY BE STUCK THERE IN BUMFUCK , EGYPT WITHOUT A DRIVER!
But no! We all overheard part of the conversation. The cop had a big smile on his face and said something to the effect of “Excuse please, you are driving on wrong side of road. You not supposed to drive dis side of road. You supposed to drive dis other side of the road.” Then the bus driver (with a big stupid smile) replied something like “Oh, you mean I don’t drive on dis side of road? Oh I see. Thanks!”
So then there we went on our merry way. Wow! Our bus driver got off with a warning for driving on the wrong side of the road. That would never have happened in the United States ! You drive on the wrong side of the road here and you are going to jail! A lot of excitement we had thus far, and we hadn’t even gone to the pyramids yet!
We finally made it to Giza and the famous pyramids. Wow! I had seen them on TV. But there is nothing like seeing them up close in person. But there they were – as big as the eye can see! Breathtaking! And off in the distance was the Sphinx (which is missing a nose which had been shot off in World War II or something they were saying).
So then a bunch of street vendors on camels approached us and wanted to sell us everything in sight. We all had the local currency (Egyptian pounds).
I knew what I wanted! I always thought the Egyptian male head dresses were cool. I asked him how much they were. He told me they were two Egyptian pounds each. I said “Fine, I’ll take three” which totals six Egyptian pounds.
Silly me! I wasn’t aware of the scams they pull and I was about to be duped! I handed him a 10 pound note and he said “OK this very good thank you” and started to walk away! I was like “No, wait a minute, what about my change?!”
He replied “OK well I say 6 pounds, you give me 10. It’s OK thank you.” I was like “No! I want my change!” I started lunging at him when about three of his compatriots surrounded me and said “Hey, are you harassing my friend?” to which I replied (with a few four-letter words I might add) “No he owes me 4 pounds in change!”
The guy reached into his stash though and pulled out two Egyptian pounds and handed them to me. I was still two pounds short, but at least I wasn’t cheated quite as badly.
So then we heard that you could go inside the biggest pyramid! Another American offered to go with me so off we went!
As we approached the entrance going up inside the biggest pyramid, we waited for a minute or so for people coming down. They were on a different tour bus and were Europeans. There were a couple French women and one said something to the other (who was exhausted) “Don’t worry honey, it’s just a little bit further!” I looked at my friend and said “Wow, do we really want to go up there?!”
We made it to the top and there was this really short Egyptian guy (with a big smile) who told us all about the history of the pyramids. He gave a spiel about 15 minutes long and every once in awhile would throw in a strange euphemism “Okie dokie?” He would say this and this and that and then sprinkle in another “Okie dokie?” Some of us were laughing about it!
When he finished with his lecture, he gave us his “hustle.” He told us it was an Egyptian custom that when somebody does this for us, we are supposed to tip him! He didn’t say an amount though, so I gave him the two Egyptian pounds I got in change from that other guy who cheated me earlier!
I also gazed around at the other American tourists that were there to see what they would do. There were about 15 of us there. I can say for a fact that each and every one of us tipped him! Nobody said anything, nobody questioned it, but I had the distinct feeling we were afraid of not tipping him! Perhaps a meteor would fall on our head or lightning would strike us or something if we refused!
So we got back on the bus and finally made it back to Alexandria . We were all tired and wanted to go back to the hotel. A whole bunch of other vendors approached us trying to sell us more things. We all said no. But they persisted. They showed us more things trying to get us to buy them. We continued saying no. Then they would show us more and still more things. These people just did not know what the meaning of the word “no” meant. Finally we bought a few things just to get rid of them (which is of course what they wanted anyway).
Finally let me tell about another scam we were warned about beforehand. This didn’t happen to any of us because we got the scoop on it!
An Egyptian with a camel looks for a tourist with a camera (which might be you). They ask “Excuse me, you want me to take your picture on my camel?” You might reply “Well how much is it?” He says “Oh, cost nothing to get on camel. I can take your picture while you smile and wave and later you can show all your friends how you were on top of a camel while you were in Egypt !”
So then you might reply back “OK let’s do it!” He makes some weird-sounding command to the camel who bows down and you climb up on it. Then you smile and wave as he takes several pictures of you.”
Finally you had enough. You say “OK I want to get down now”. He says “OK that cost 20 Egyptian pounds!” You shoot back “Hey wait a minute, I thought you said it cost nothing to get on the camel!”
Then of course comes the bad news, “Yes, cost nothing get ON camel, cost 20 Egyptian pounds to get OFF camel!”
The morale of the story is – if you travel to Egypt , make sure and have small denomination bills and give them exact change, and don’t fall for the picture on the camel scam. What, you thought they were all honest? Please!