[As promised last week, I’m going to blog my Egyptian odyssey. I’ll do one a day chronicling our adventure through the land of sun, sand, and really old monuments. And if I’m feeling really inspired, I’ll throw a few all-original pictures in, too. I kept notes all the way through, so I’ll write as if it were contemporaneous.]
When we landed in Egypt it was late, maybe 10 PM local time. Unlike developed countries, Egypt is more like Detroit in that there’s no tunnel that you walk up; you go down the stars to a bus. Then the bus takes you all of ten feet, to drop you at the Terminal. We spent more time waiting for the bus to move than we did driving. Oh, well, you just learn to accept the quirks of other cultures.
Once inside, you have to give your first bribe to the guy selling visas. At least it feels like a bribe. Apparently this is all legal and above-board in Egypt, but to me it felt seedy. Twenty euros later we had our Visas and were quickly through security.
Once we’d left security we did two things: first we met the nice couple who would be traveling with us the next eight days, a pair of retirees who had recently sold their hotel and were living their dream of touring Egypt. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call them Chester and Susan. They were, I’m guessing, round about 70 years old.
Then we met our local travel contact in Cairo, from a company called Naggar Travel. If you ever travel to Egypt, AVOID THIS COMPANY AT ALL COSTS! I’m not kidding. This guy was the first of what we were to come to know as the seven dwarves of Naggar travel. This one was Dummy.
Why Dummy? Well, I got the feeling that I knew more about Cairo than he did, and I’ve never been there. Typical of our conversation was this: “what’s that big building over there?” Him: “um, it’s old.”
Yeah, I can pretty much tell that, dipshit. I kind of wanted a little more detail.
We hopped on a little minibus that inexplicably had shag carpet on the inside and a huge tissue holder that said I LOVE AUSTRALIA on it, bracketed by a kangaroo and a koala, and we were off into Cairo traffic.
You need to know two things about Cairo traffic: the paint on the roads is for decoration, and the drivers all navigate by radar and not by sight. I know this because our bus drove for an hour without ever turning on its headlights (and it was dark) yet honking his horn all along the route. Even that late at night the roads are clogged with cars. Several times I prepared myself to die in a flaming crash, and my only solace was knowing that the news reports would say “a thirty-car pileup in Cairo leaves forty dead, among them two Americans.”
And that’s something, right?
As we went Dummy pointed out various old things, saying “there’s an old thing of stone, and there’s another old thing, and look! A fountain!” He also told us sexist jokes: “only women have traffic accidents in Cairo traffic, because they get scared.”
My wife, in a rare moment of pique, responded “when do they borrow all these guys’ cars, then? Every damn one of them has a dent in it!”
He stopped narrating after that, which bummed me out because I couldn’t tell which stuff was old and which was really old without his help.
When we finally arrived at the hotel, a little after midnight, we were given some vile-tasting red juice while Dummy checked us in. Because in Egypt, you never check yourself in. I don’t know why. Probably bribes change hands or something.
Dummy returned and proposed, for the next day, a visit to Saqqara and taking in the magical Pyramid Sound and Light Show in addition to our already-scheduled tour of the Giza plateau. We, eager tourists, accepted.
Finally, tuckered out from a long day of travel, we turned in and I made a horrible discovery:
THE ROOM HAD DOUBLE BEDS! What is this, Ozzie and Harriet go on vacation? Ultimately I was too tired to move them that night so we slept apart.
End result: no sex for me.
Not an auspicious start to the vacation.