Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Light at the End of the Tunnel

As you can imagine, after being up from 2:30 AM until 11:30 PM, we were pretty tired. So we woke up late on the last day in Egypt and quickly tried to pull everything together to catch the 9 AM bus to the airport, with Pharaoh’s revenge nibbling at our innards all the while.

We barely had time for breakfast in the hotel before Surly showed up, ready to take us to the airport. Not that we missed anything, other than overpriced croissants and juice that’d been made from concentrate and toilet water.

Okay, I don’t know the water came from the toilet. But I don’t know that it didn’t, either.

This tree stump is 3500 years old. What's your excuse?

Tired, fatigued, and just wanting out of the country, we arrived at the Cairo Airport to meet our old friend, Sleazy. He was just as Sleazy as ever and quickly took our passports, our bags, and disappeared “to go check us in.”

“When they do that, do you ever feel like you’ll never see your stuff again?” I asked the group.

“I want to die!” Chester said. “Oh, please, God, let me die!”

“That’s what you get for eating the ice,” Susan said.

“Don’t you wish you’d had the chicken?” Wifey asked.

“I bet if you go stick your head in the X-Ray machine belt you’ll go quick,” I suggested. “It’s not like anybody’s watching it.”

As Susan wrestled with Chester to keep him from committing Hari Kari in the belt, I examined the signs posted everywhere. They all said a variation on “IT IS FORBIDDEN TO TAKE CULTURAL TREASURES FROM EGYPT.”

I nudged Wifey and pointed at the sign. “I’ve got a temple column down my pants. Wanna see it?”

She cocked an eyebrow at me. “Did we visit a Smurf temple?”

Okay, in all honesty, I had a rock from the foot of the stepped pyramid of Zoser in my pocket, and I was terrified that the rock detector was going to buzz me. But I hardly think that counts as a cultural treasure. I got away with it clean, too, so there.

The signs certainly didn't deter Napoleon

Finally Sleazy returned and ushered us through the passport line. A quick handshake later and we were on our own, waiting for the plane.

“Let’s do some souvenir shopping,” Wifey suggested. “We haven’t gotten anything for some people yet.”

“Where’s the bathroom?” Chester asked. “I’m gonna be sick!”

“I’m hungry,” I said. “Can we go eat?”

Wifey and I followed the signs to the upstairs restaurant, leaving Chester and Susan behind to their fate. Cruel? Maybe, but that’s what you get for eating the ice.

And what a restaurant selection it was! Call me lowbrow, but I almost peed my pants in excitement when I saw their lineup: Cinn-A-Bon, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and other restaurants I’d actually heard of. They had a better breakfast lineup than you’ll find in Europe, where they substitute attitude for food quality.

“Let’s get a Cinn-A-Bon!” Wifey suggested. “I love those things!”

My stomach gurgled angrily, threatening a tsunami of bad tidings if I disrupted it with so much sweetness. “How about Mickey D’s?” I asked. “I don’t think I can handle one of those right now.”

She agreed, because she’s basically a nice person, and we had a nice meal of hash browns and McMuffins. That’s the nice thing about McDonald’s: since it all rolls out of the same plant flash-frozen, it tastes exactly the same wherever you are in the world, which is comforting.

“You know, hash browns are an aphrodesiac,” I told her. “If you feel so moved, we could join the mile-high club.”

She rolled her eyes at me. “Not even. Besides, it wouldn’t count as Africa, so I’d have to come back anyways.”

“Well, then, we could join the ground-high club here at the airport. That would count!”

She reached for me, perhaps longingly, aching for my manhood, but accidentally spilled my hot coffee into my lap, thus interrupting what could have been a meaningful romantic quickie worthy of a non-gay senator in an airport bathroom.

At least, that’s the way I choose to interpret it.

Minutes later a flatulent mummy emerged and chased us from the valley

After breakfast I had to go pee again. I find it’s good to pee every five or ten minutes when I’m on vacation. Wifey doesn’t agree, and will go days and days without ever peeing. I don’t know how she does it; she’s some kind of reverse camel or something.

Anyways, she went on ahead to the gate while I went to the bathroom. When I came back out to join her, I found that the gate to Europe was heavily secured, with another metal detector and several sets of guards checking passports and tickets. I had ours in my pocket, so I knew that Wifey had to be out here somewhere, because surely that many layers of security aren’t permeable with a wink and a smile.

Unfortunately, she’d either been kidnapped or slathered with invisible cream, because she was nowhere around that I could find. Time was running out; I could see on the other side the people getting on the bus, which was parked next to the plane. It was either board now or miss the plane.

So I asked myself: should I risk abandoning Wifey in Egypt?

Once I’d thought about it a moment, I realized there was really only one choice: yes.

It was for the children, you see. If I didn’t go, who would take care of them? Besides, I had to get back to work. I was sure the US Embassy could work something out, or she’d get a job scrubbing toilets, or something. Besides, doesn’t McDonald’s count as US territory, like an Embassy? She was practically home, I figured.

I presented my tickets to the first guard.

“Where is your other passenger?”

“That’s a misprint,” I said. “It’s only me.”

He waved me through. “Okay.”

I got to the second set of guards. “Where is your other passenger?” he asked me.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I lost her.”

He waved me through. “Okay.”

I got to the third set of guards, the stewardesses who were checking tickets. “Your wife came through a minute ago,” she said. “She’s already on the plane.”

“What?” I asked. “How did she do that?”

“She said you had the tickets.”

“These are hers, but actually, I’m headed to Rio de Janeiro. My sister is already on the plane with the tickets. Okay?”

“Nice try,” she tells me. “Get on the bus.”

When I finally got to the plane, Wifey was seated, with a drink, getting a foot rub from the pilots. She seemed strangely self-satisfied.

“I hope you’re proud of yourself,” I said. “I was worried sick out there running around trying to find you.”

“No you weren’t,” she said. “I was watching you on the CCTV. You couldn’t abandon me fast enough. If you think you’re joining the mile high club after that performance, you’re sadly mistaken.”

“I’m gonna barf!” Chester yelled from the seat right behind us, ringing the stewardesses. “I need more barf bags!”

As promised, the Colossi of Memnon, or 'why restoration is best left to professionals'

Soon we were airborne, and Egypt delivered its final cruel blow to me: the inflight movie was The Golden Compass.

Actually, that’s not a bad movie, other than making no sense, being poorly acted, and insulting your intelligence with a transparently sequelled end. But the effects were super-duper.

Five hours later I was home, and my children waited a whole ten seconds before asking “what did you bring us?” I’m so proud of how mature they’ve gotten.

So what did I learn from my week-long visit to Egypt?

1) You must do this once in your life, because you will see things that you simply cannot see anywhere else, and be awed and amazed by the power of human achievement.

2) The sound and light shows suck, though, and can easily be skipped. Who wants to listen to a sphinx brag about how old he is? I'm glad Galactus kicked his sorry ass.

3) Close your eyes while being driven around town. Don’t worry; the drivers have their eyes closed, too.

4) Speaking of which, don’t go in the water without eye protection.

5) The guides are really sensitive about jokes regarding aliens, the lost treasure of Atlantis being under the Sphinx, and threatened spray-paint defamation of the temples.

6) Egyptian food is not inedible, it’s poisonous, and there’s a difference.

7) On a related note, you should bring your own food, water, and beds.

8) I am the greatest potato racer in the history of potato racing.

9) Just let her keep the damned panties.

1 comment:

Darell said...

Glad you all made it home safely. Egypt will miss you and wifey, but don't think you will miss Egypt.

Careful tough as there is a local saying "Once having tasted the Nile you will return". Guess whoever coined this phrase got a real weird high of Pharoah's Revenge.

Your "Egypt Post" is required reading for wantabe tourists, and an even better blast for those of us that live here.

All the best

Son of Plebian