Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Walk like an Egyptian

Scene - Airport in Sharm, trying to get a cab to my hotel.
Me to the driver - Royal Plaza hotel in Naama Bay. Bekam da? (How much?)
Driver - 100 (Egyptian pounds)
Me - What? That sounds high. How far away is the hotel and how long exactly will it take to get there.
Driver - 15 km. 100
Me - It didn't even cost that much to drive from 6th of October to the Cairo airport and that trip took more than an hour!
(At this point, I'm already in the cab and we're driving away)
Driver - Sharm is more expensive than Cairo.
(I decided to call someone who would know better than me what this trip should cost. Luckily, he picked up right away.)
Me - Amiri, how much is a cab from the Sharm airport to the hotel?
Amiri - 20 pounds
Me - Yah, that's what I thought. I knew this driver was trying to scam me. He told me 100!
Amiri - What?! Tell him to go eff himself! It shouldn't be that much and he's only giving you that rate because you're a foreigner.
(Meanwhile, the driver is listening to my phone conversation and pulls a u-turn to go back to the airport.) (And I didn't, for sure, tell him what Amiri told me to tell him!)
Long story longer, I got a new driver who wanted to charge me 50 and I told him 30. He kept trying to negotiate it and I finally told him that I knew the going rate was 20 and I was going to give him 30, so just drive me to the damn hotel already!

* * * * *

Sharm is a LOT different than Cairo. For one thing, there's not nearly as many people here and it's filled with tourists. But it's still Egypt and still an Arab country through and through. After only five days here, I'm realizing that I'm picking up on a lot of the culture pretty quickly.

Regarding the title, people here don't really cross streets at an intersection when they have the right of way. They just cross when they feel like it. This amazed me the first time I saw it and I wondered why people weren't getting killed, but now I do it, too. You have to, otherwise you'd be waiting to cross forever. My trick, though, is to always try to cross at the narrowest part of the road and, if that's not possible, surround myself with Egyptians and cross when they do!

I'm also really good at the Egyptian 'no' which is kind of a tsking sound. It comes in handy when people are trying to sell things to you or get you into their store or restaurant. It's kind of like they respect you more if you tsk than if you just say no or shake your head.

Also, things are less conservative here than in Cairo, but I still felt really naked when I stepped out of my hotel room wearing a t-shirt and shorts. It had been a long time since I showed that much skin - showing a lot of skin just isn't done in Cairo (in Sharm, with all of the tourists, it's not a problem).

* * * * *

My vacation from my vacation is going swimmingly, though. I went to the pool yesterday after I arrived and then showered and went out. I had dinner and a shisha and then went to a club. Today I slept in a bit and then headed to the beach. It is warm and sunny here, such a nice change from all the cool, rainy weather I'd been seeing. Tonight I'm meeting up with friend of a friend, Kharboush, and some of his friends and we're going bowling. I haven't done that in ages! So, all around I'm just relaxing and taking it easy. It's a nice change of pace for the next few days before I'm back to all of the sightseeing.


  1. That was a nice long post. Way to go not letting the cabbie sham you! Thanks to you, the Bangles, "Walk Like an Egyptian" will be in my head all afternoon! What's up with the straw pics?

  2. That's my girl! don't let anyone get over on ya.I'm glad your enjoying your vacation away from your vacation though.

  3. ToadMama, I had NO idea what you were talking about when you asked about the straw pics. But I finally figured it out lol. The "straw" is part of the shisha which is a water pipe to smoke tobacco. They have regular tobacco and flavored tobaccos and it's very popular in the Mediterranean/Middle Eastern. They also had it in Greece and Turkey, but this was my first time trying it.

    Earworm! My pleasure!

  4. much like you i did some traveling on Wednesday too! Ruby and I packed up the Big Red and motored down the treacherous and exotic routes 3 and 4 to Lusby, MD! ooooooo. I saw a Bingo Hall, a safeway, and 2 Starbucks . . . then on the way home I missed a turn and ended up in Forestville before I could double back. Creepy. Jealous? xoxoxoLaura

  5. One thing I never worried about when you set off on this venture was the possibility of you getting taken by those would take advantage of you because you're from anywhere but the country you're in. I had no idea you'd form such a reliable network of world travelers, but you let them know that those who love you are very proud of you.