Walk Like an Egyptian

Cairo, Egypt


My flight to Cairo was pretty uneventful (although it was interesting that Egypt Air brings you a tray of food to select from for lunch). When I reached the arrivals hall, I had to pass through a phalanx of signs before finding the one with my name on it. It was nuts with people yelling and waiving signs, motioning with hands and holding up babies everywhere (yes babies). Thank God the driver was there to pick me up because the noise and chaos outside the airport was as bad as the noise and chaos inside the airport (although the oppressive heat and humidity outside really took it up a notch).

The drive to the hotel was hysterical. Lanes are irrelevant and cars and people move in and out and around each other in a semi-permanent stall with horns honking. And yes, you read correctly. People. They have this crazy system in Cairo where people stand on the side of the road and wait for vans to pick them up. The vans are apparently part of the bus system here so people will periodically walk out in the middle of traffic to get in a van instead of waiting for it to pull over to the side of the road. This drive and weave is long one huge, dusty, noisy dance.

We arrived on Zamelak Island (where my hotel was located), but the driver had a bit of trouble actually finding the location. We ended up stopping a couple times for directions because the hotel is is hidden away inside building in a residential area (the neighborhood is actually home to many of the embassies in Cairo). Anyway, the hotel was located in a rather rundown looking building, but once inside and up to the fifth floor (where the hotel was located) it was a different world. Lots of plants, Egyptian carpets and wood. Anyway, I was given a lovely room with a huge bed and balcony with view towards Cairo. By the time I got settled it was after 8. So I decided to just take a walk in the neighborhood, grab a bite to eat and get to bed early.

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Me in front of a hazy Cheops

The next morning I was getting ready to go when I received a call that my guide was already waiting in the lobby. Yikes. I was told he would be here at 9:00 and it was only 8:25. So with no time for breakfast I grabbed my bag, sunglasses and hat and headed out the door. My guide, Ashraf, turned out to be an interesting sort. Very knowledgeable. Very opinionated. Very sarcastic. Very glass is have empty kind of guy. My polar opposite (not the opinionated part). Nevertheless, I found him to be a good guide for the most part.

We started off the morning heading to Giza, the site of the pyramids (the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), the Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) and the Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus) as well as the the Sphinx. The bad news was that Cairo was shrouded in fog and smog so it was not going to be the best viewing day.

Giza is a very congested suburb of Cairo and it is a bit of a shock to see that the magnificent pyramids are sitting on a sandy mound adjacent to the “burbs. Nevertheless, there they were in their 4,000 year old resplendent and fog shrouded glory. Now after the shock of the location, the next thing you notice is security EVERYWHERE. Men with machine guns. Men with hand guns. Men with clubs. After the attacks on Luxor a number of years ago, the Egyptians are not taking any chances.

Anyway, first up was the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), which is the oldest pyramid at the site. All of the pyramids are made of limestone blocks and it is remarkable to see how similar the construction is to the Inca ruins. (AND the Incas used the same method as the Egyptians with male and female blocks (protrusion and hole) to attach the stones.) Cheops was built for the tomb of the Pharaoh Khufu who reigned during the Old Kingdom around 2500 BC. (The 3,000 year rule of the Pharaohs was divided into the Old Kingdom (3000 to 2000 BC), the Middle Kingdom (2000 BC to 1000 BC) and the New Kingdom (1000 BC to the end). Beyond climbing a few stories up Cheops and staring at the pyramid, there wasn’t much more to do. (There are 300 tickets sold per day to enter Cheops, but we did not arrive in time to buy tickets and quite frankly it wasn’t a priority for me anyway.)

We then moved up the hill to the lookout area for a view of all three pyramids, but the fog made it difficult to see Cheops clearly (the two other pyramids were much closer to the viewing site). As we were leaving the hilltop viewing area, my guide wanted to know if I would like to go on a camel ride. It looked far too touristy for my taste (tons of tourists from the tour buses), but he insisted it would be fun so I agreed. Five minutes latter I was climbing on the back of a camel who was in the sitting position. Then… some magic words and the camel lurches up on its forelegs (I immediately pitch forward on the saddle to shouts of “lean back” “lean back” … ACK this is not fun) then up on its back legs and I pitch forward again and … yep more shouting of “lean back” “lean back”. Some little boy grabbed the camels reins and proceeded to lead me and the camel down the sandy hill. Now this little boy (who I should call a little punk) proceeded to begin yelling at the boy down the hill paying zero attention to where he is leading me so the camel is lurching all over the place and I am swaying from side to side (with only one stirrup by the way) at about a 90 degree angle straight down the hill. Visions of falling off this one humped hell and being trampled to death passed through my mind several times.

We finally got down the hill and the brat kid proceeded to drop my reins, run ahead and smack the camel a few hundred feet in front of me with his whip. The poor lady and man ridding the camel started yelling at the kid who finally stopped and came back laughing. Little sh*t. Anyway, the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, but it ranks down around the bottom of things I have done so far on this trip. Mainly because the kid was such a punk. (He took a picture of me with my camera and then proceeded to pretend to toss my camera back up to me. I wanted to climb down and smack the brat… sad thing is the kid was probably not more than 10 or 11, and he was already so hardened around the tourists (which is the exact reason why I did not want to ride the camel in the first place… I figured it would be a pretty jaded affair, and I was right).

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The Spinx and the Pyramid of Khafre

So once I made it safely off the camel, we headed back down the hill to pyramid number two – the Pyramid of Khafre. This pyramid appears higher than Cheops, but it’s not. The pyramid stands on higher ground so it gives the illusion that the pyramid is bigger. Khafre was built for Cheops’ son (whose name was obviously Khafre). Khafre was also the pharaoh who succeeded his half brother. I had purchased a ticket to enter Khafre (which were easier to purchase than Cheops) so I went to the entrance (sans camera) and proceeded down the ramp into the pyramid. The passageway was very narrow and really small. I had to crouch down and walk all at the same time. After walking down the passageway it shifted directions and I had to climb in a crouch walking position. (I actually saw people going in the opposite direction backwards. Good grief.) Anway another shift down a hill and then up and then down and I was finally in the burial chamber. Not that impressive, but still pretty cool to see what the burial chamber looked like.

I climbed out and we proceeded to drive past the final pyramid (the Pyramid of Menkaure) and the Queens’ Pyramids – the pyramids of Khufu’s wives and sisters. Not much to see here, but some nice pictures. We then proceeded on to the Sphinx. There is an awful lot of unknowns about the Sphinx, but it is believed (based on time dating and geological surveys) to have been carved during Khafre’s reign with the face of Khafre and the body of a lion. The fact that the Sphinx has a striped headress (an indication of royalty) is also a telltale sign. The nose of the Sphinx was hammered off some time between the 11th and 15th centuries. No one knows for sure how it happened or who decided to perform rhinoplasty on the big guy.

Anyway, I was pretty impressed with my first view of the Sphinx. We walked around the monument (although there are barriers to prevent you from getting too close to the Sphinx) and was able to see it pretty much unimpeded by others. (Fortunately, we were there during a lull in the bus tours.)

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Camel hauling sugar cane

After the Sphinx, we stopped by a papyrus shop and I was able to see how parchment paper was made by the ancient Eyptians. Fascinating. First the reed is stripped of its outer skin, pounded and soaked. Then reed is pressed and soaked for approximately 6 days. Finally the reed is stripped and the strips are laid crossways over each other to form the parchment paper (once dried). I quite enjoyed the demonstration (and yes… I bought a couple of Egyptian papyrus pictures. I’m going to need an addition to my house if I keep this up.)

I had also asked my guide to take me to a perfume shop where the essence oils used to make high quality (and designer perfumes) are found. Egypt exports essence oils which are then diluted by the Western perfume manufacturers and I wanted to try and buy the pure grade essence oil. So we stopped at one of the shops and I sat for about a half hour and was given a perfume lesson about the various oils (perfume, homeopathic, and massage) and quality. All the while I was drinking the most fantastic drink …Hibiscus tea made from pure hibiscus flowers. It was wonderful.

After the presentation, I told the fellow the kind of perfume I wear (Issey Miyake) and presto 100 proof perfume essence oil in front of me. I ended up buying the oil as well as some eucalyptus. (I was also given a bag of hibiscus flowers for the tea after I raved about it so much.)

So by now it was time for lunch so my guide and I stopped at this really cool outdoor restaurant where they brought a little cooker to our table with chicken and kofta (a beef sausage) searing on the cooker, along with fragrant rice, Egyptian flat bread, hummus, baba ganoush, grilled eggplant and cucumbers and tomatoes (a standard in Egypt). Delish.

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Me and Ramses II at the Memphis Outdoor Museum

After lunch we began the drive to Memphis (not Tennessee) The drive was surreal as we passed through villages right out of another time period. Women walking with baskets of chickens on their head (not fast enough for a picture), men on donkeys, men herding goats along the side of the road, donkeys pulling cars full of produce, camels hauling sugar cane, women in long flowing black robes, women in black burkas, women and girls wearing hadjibs and children in school uniforms. It was surreal. When we finally reached Memphis, it was almost anti-climatic.

Anyway, Memphis was the ancient capital of lower Egypt (the area around Cairo) and believed to have been founded around 3,000 BC by the Emperor Menes. The area lost significance under the Romans and during the rise of Alexandria. Today, the area is the site of an open air museum. It is a series of ruined temples, statutes and artifacts. The most important artifacts lie within an area that was once the southern portion of the temple of Ptah. The artifacts found here include the colossus of Rameses II that originally stood at the entrance of the temple of Ptah. The base of the statute was destroyed so the statute lies on its back.

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Colossus of Ramses II at Memphis Outdoor Museum

Also in this area is a large sphinx that dates from the 18th dynasty (between 1300 BC and 1550 BC) and was most likely carved by the Pharaoh Amenhotep II or Tuthmosis IV as well as a tablet from the Temple of Apris, an unfinished sarcophagus, and giant statute of Rameses II (this guy loved himself, lived to be almost 100, had multiple wives and over 200 children (busy guy…).

From Memphis we moved on to Saqqare, which might have been the highlight of the day for me (excepting the drive from Memphis). Saqqara is the step pyramid believed to be the oldest pyramid in the world dating to 2600 BC and built by Emperor Djoser (or Zoser). This is a rarely visited site off the beaten path. We arrived late in the day and were among the only folks at the site. We wandered through the pillared columns of the the funerary complex and out onto the sand to view the step pyramid (aptly named because it looks like a series of steps).

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Step pyramid at Saqqare

We then walked through the funerary complex courtyard (the pharaohs believed in the afterlife so their funerary complexes mirrored much of their palace which was the reason for the courtyard), which was adjacent to the step pyramid, past the Old Kingdom tombs and then around to an area of the funerary complex that included former residences of the workers and along a walkway which included many beautifully preserved hieroglyphics. It was spectacular despite the blazing hot sun and very dusty, sandy conditions.

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Hieroglyphics at the Funery Complex at Saqqare

We finally got back in the car and began the drive back to Cairo. And the drive back to Cairo was almost as surreal as the drive to Memphis. We passed more donkeys pulling carts, men herding goats and women carrying every form of good atop their head. I felt like I was watching an episode of Discovery Channel.

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On the road to Cairo

When I got back to my hotel, Mohammed, the agent who had organized my trip had left a message that he had arranged for me to go out on a Felucca (ancient Egyptain broad sail boat) on the Nile and would meet me at 8. That gave me just enough time to shower all the Egyptian dessert dust off me and put on a change of clothes. At 8 I was off again through the VERY crowded streets of Cairo to the Nile River waterfront. It was a Thursday night and in Egypt that was the equivalent of Friday in North America (because the Moslem sabbath is on Friday) so the streets, restaurants and shops were jammed. We finally made it to Dok Dok landing and minutes later I was seated on my own boat for the next hour. The night was absolutely gorgeous. Full moon, slight breeze in the steamy night air, and the waves lapping at the boat as we sailed down the Nile surrounded by the lights of Cairo. It was another surreal moment in what had been a surreal day.

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Crossing the Nile in Cairo

Once we docked, I walked back up the street to wait for Mohammed and the car.  Now the street was incredibly busy with 4 lanes of traffic flying by.  As I was standing there, I watched an elderly gentleman on the other side of the street step off the curb to cross the street.  The traffic was not stoping for him so I literally gulped and held my breath.  I thought I was about to witness this man’s death, but low and behold, this man literally floated through the traffic, bobbing and weaving through the oncoming (speeding) cars to reach the sidewalk where I was standing.   The old guy didn’t miss a beat, walked past me and on his way.  I started hollering “you’re a magic man” you’re a magic man”.  People stared at me as I stood there yelling, laughing and shaking my head.  What I had just witnessed was unreal. He was truely a magician!

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On the felucca on the Nile.

When Mohammed arrived, he asked me if I wanted to stop for dinner. I agreed, but emphasized that I did not want to go to a tourist restaurant. After confirming with me repeatedly that I wanted a local restaurant we headed off to a restaurant called Tahrir (after the street) and boy did I get the stares as we walked in. I am certain the place had never seen a tourist before. We sat down and were immediately brought the only food the restaurant serves: Koshari. A bowl of spaghetti noodles, rices, bits of ground beef, dried onions, corn and tomato sauce. I did as instructed and mixed the tomato sauce in the dish, sprinkled some hot sauce on it and proceeded to eat. Wow. Surprisingly good. This dish is apparently the poor man’s food in Egypt. I ate almost the whole bowl before throwing in the towel. Very filling. I think the fellow who served me wanted to give me a high five. I am certain he thought I would not eat any of it.

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Koshari

So Mohammed dropped me off at the hotel with instructions that Ashraf would pick me up at 8:30. So next morning we were out the door and on to the Egyptian Museum. I had been warned that the museum was an overcrowded, cramped place, but I think I severely underestimated what it would be like (either that or I had been spoiled by my recent trip to two of the world’s great museums: the Hermitage and the new Acropolis Musuem. Anyway, what a clusterf*ck. First, the entrance. Two little lanes for hundreds of people trying to stream into the museum when it opened at 9. (We ended up wandering around the little garden at the front of the museum until close to the opening time and then proceeded to join the masses in line. The gardens were actually quite pleasant with the tomb of Mariette (the man who designed the museum) the busts of a number of notables in the Egyptian archeological world (including Champollion who is famous for the Rosetta Stone – cracking the Egyptian hieroglyphic code).

Anyway, once through the entrance, we had to pass through an even narrower security line. (And about the security… EVERYWHERE. Again lots of men with guns and clubs. Also… no cameras are permitted in the museum so I had to check my camera and have my bag checked as we went through security. And this was being done for everyone. GACK!)

We finally got into the museum and Ahsraf wisely took me to the second floor of the museum first to avoid some of the large tour groups on the first floor. So the second floor meant the Tutankhamun galleries. We wandered through some of the lesser known relics from the Yuya and Thuyu rooms including a death mask, a number of sarcophagi and then on to the Tutankhamun relics including Tut’s lion throne, alabaster jars and vessels carved in an array of shapes, four massive guilded wooden shrines (which fit one inside the other) and a room filled with ancient jewelery. Then it was on to the highlight: the room with Tut’s death mask, two gold sarcophagi (the smaller being made of solid gold) and numerous scepters and jewels found with Tut. Really, really stunning. The only downside… there was very little information or explanation about any of the relics. And… the relics are stored in very, very old cabinets in a stifling hot, no temperature controlled environment. It was quite shocking.

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The Egyptian Museum

After the Tut exhibit I moved on to the Royal Mummy Room where many of the most famous and infamous mummies are lying. This was the only temperature controlled room in the building and was actually so comfortable I could have hung out with the mummies for a while. (BTW – very odd to see bodies several thousand years old that still have hair, nails and visible facial features. (I really dig this stuff in case you haven’t already figured it out.)

I then moved on to what was perhaps the strangest exhibit: the animal mummies. The Egyptians worshiped animals and wanted to ensure the animals (including favorite pets) accompanied them to the afterlife so they mummified animals. Yep … there they were: dogs, cats, crocodiles, cows and … baboons (and you have not lived until you have seen a mummified baboon!)

We finished up on the second floor by looking at the model armies – two sets of wooden warriors marching in phalanxes each with their own set of features and attire. In some ways it reminded me of a mini version of the terra cotta warriors. (Apparently the model armies were found in a nobleman’s tomb who was a high ranking military man.)

So we moved downstairs and first visited the Colossal Statue of Amenophis III and his Wife Ti. Then it was on to the limestone statue of Djoser, the pharaoh who designed the step pyramid. The statute is apparently the oldest in the museum (which is saying quite a bit when you are in a museum of ancient antiquities) and is of the seated pharaoh with robe and headcloth. Then it was on to the Hathor Shrine (perhaps my favorite of the museum). This featured a sandstone chapel with painted pictures (called reliefs) of Tuthmosis III, his wife and two princesses making offerings to Hathor (the goddess of love and pleasure – I wonder if she was related to the Greek god Dionysos, who was the god vegetation, wine, inebriation and ecstatic dance (you know I am going to use every opportunity I can to continue to mention that crazy guy). Anyway, the life size cow statute of Hathor in front of the chapel depicts Hathor suckling the pharaoh. I had to ask my guide twice if the chapel was a reproduction because the colors of the reliefs were so fresh and bright. We next stopped by a tiny, tiny sculpture of Khufu (Cheops) which is apparently the only surviving likeness of the pharaoh and is the smallest statute in the museum (ironic given that his pyramid is the largest in Giza). We walked on to the unfinished head of Nefertiti and then around through the phalanx of sphinxes before ending the morning with a peak at the large black life size statute of pharaoh Khafre and a copy of the Rosetta Stone (the original is in the British Museum).We had spent about 3 hours at the museum. Quite frankly it was enough for me. It was incredibly hot and humid and I was just too tired to go on. When the new museum (the Egyptians are building a replacement museum) is finished maybe I will return to spend some quality time among the 120,000 artifacts (not all are only display so I wasn’t walking among 120,000 artifacts).

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Mohammed Ali (Alabaster) Mosque

At this point, we decided to head over to the Citadel, which was the home to Egypt’s rulers for 700 years and the site of Muhammed Ali Mosque (aka the Alabaster Mosque) two other mosques and some palaces hanging on a limestone cliff overlooking the city. The Citadel was built by Saladin Ayyubid in 1176 to protect Cairo against the Crusaders. Although my guide was concerned we may not get into the mosque because of Friday prayer (which is the biggest prayer service of the week and closes the mosque) we decided to chance it and hope the traffic would not be too bad. We lucked out and were able to go into the mosque. Quite frankly, the exterior of the mosque was much more impressive than the interior, which is modeled on the Turkish mosques – large dome surrounded by smaller domes. I wandered around for about 5 minute without my guide and encountered a lovely family from Luxor who wanted me to take their picture and wanted to know where I was from. (They spoke no English, but I am getting pretty good at deciphering hand gestures and the basic premise of what people are saying to me.) Anyway the two children were darling and the parents could not have been nicer. They were in the mosque waiting for Friday prayer. I would have liked to have stayed longer, but was being booted for Friday prayer.

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The family from Luxor

Ashraf and I headed to lunch and this is where my first disappointment in Egypt arose. Prior to leaving Seattle, I had specifically instructed the folks at Memphis Tours who had arranged for my guide and my Nile cruise that I DID NOT want to have anything to do with tourist restaurants and wanted lunch at a local restaurant. (And Egypt is the only stop on my trip where I used a tour company to help me set things up because it was the only way to book the dahabiya.) Anyway, I put my requirements in writing and was very clear. At first I got a response back that they would take me to the Hyatt for lunch. Uh no folks. I can do that in the U.S. Where you folks go for lunch! Anyway, we stopped at a restaurant lined with tourist buses, and I asked my guide where we were. “This is our lunch stop.” I looked at him like he was nuts and said “uh I don’t think so.” I then went through the whole spiel about no tourist restaurant. My guide came up with some lame excuse that he hadn’t been told that and this was where Memphis Tours had an account. (And yes, this is the exact reason why I do not book with tour agencies unless I absolutely have to. No control and ALWAYS a communication breakdown.) I was very unhappy and told my guide as much. We ended up walking into this buffet crap restaurant while I fummed. I sat and drank water while he continued to insist I eat something. Uh no way.

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Leaving Friday prayers

Then the lunch discussion (he ate.. I did not and oh yea this would definitely affect his tip) during which he proceeded to tell me that the world was 90% bad, that those in the middle east spreading violence in the name of Islam are only following the Koran and that many Egyptians wish ill on America. WTF!!!! I looked at this guy like he was nuts. Listen dude I may not live in Egypt, but I have traveled enough and read enough to know that you are full of sh*t. So for the next hour I proceeded to have a VERY animated discussion about the middle east with this glass is half empty guy. (And he was not in the mosque when I met the lovely family from Luxor.) In fact, everything he was saying was so contrary to what I had encountered to date on my trip, including broad smiles and hellos from Egyptians while I was walking near my hotel and the fantastic reception I got from the Turks (which is not really part of the middle east, but it is a Muslim country). Then the aha moment came … my guide informed me that he was not even a Muslim… he was a coptic Christian (which is an offshoot of the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches). Mmmm sounds like a guy who really dislikes being a minority in a 99% Muslim country.

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The Hanging Church

We finally left the lunch place, and I was still in a very sour mood as we moved on to the Hanging Church. I had at this point decided I was not very fond of my guide. Although he knew his stuff. I just did not like him as a person and really wanted to just end the day and get back to my hotel. (I actually asked him to cut the trip short and just move on to the Khan al-Khalili bazaar, where I wanted to shop for a Christmas ornament… yes I was holding out hope for an ornament.) He insisted I at least see the Hanging Church so we stopped and spent about an hour at the site. (The Hanging Church is in Coptic Cairo, was built in the 9th century and is called the hanging church because it is suspended on the top of the Water Gate of Roman Babylon.) It was interesting, but not worth much time. (My guide actually wanted to spend more time here, and I got the impression is was solely because he was a Coptic Christian).

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Friendly folks in Cairo

Anyway, after about an hour we got back in the car and headed over to the Khan al-Khalil bazaar. I told my guide I wanted to go it alone and so he indicated he would wait for me at a tea house. He provided me with multiple warnings about the place, said I would be accosted at every turn, was warned to stay on the main path and reminded that I should be accompanied. I basically told him to bite me and said I was more than capable of handling myself so off I set. It turned out to be the best part of the afternoon. I immediately veered off the main path and started wandering around the alleys to the constant shouts of the store touts. It was a riot. The key is to maintain a good sense of humor, keep walking and look while you walk. The lines flew at me left and right. “Hey over here movie star.” “What do you want blue eyes?” “I got everything you need lady.” And on and on.

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The Khan el-Kalil

I finally reached the end of an alley and spotted a bunch of wooden figurines and what was that… yep a Santa Clause (with very weird eyes – perhaps pharaoh eyes). Anyway I was thrilled. Only problem. It was a statute without a hole or hook to hang it from my tree. I figured I could get a friend to drill a hole in it so I immediately asked the fellow how much he wanted for it. 160 Egyptian Pounds. Uh you have GOT to be kidding. Not only was the amount an insult (approximately 25 US dollars) it so put me off that I put it down and immediately walked away. The fellow immediately began to call after me but I kept walking. I was not going to even negotiate with the guy. Then I hear sorry, sorry. Mistake. Uh too late fella. I don’t trust you now.

So I kept going and figured I’d take my chances. I wandered back the way I came in past the same guys to the sounds of … “You’re back. Please come see me. You buy from me we go for dinner.” “I knew you’d be back movie star”. And one of my favorites… “How can I take your money?” … pretty funny stuff! Like I said a good sense of humor is really what you need in the bazaar.) I ended up taking a different turn and wandered down an alley where there was no one but me and the shop owners and then there it was … a basket of very dusty glass Christmas ornaments! Eureka! I could hardly contain myself and realized I was probably going to end up paying more than if I had not let out a squeal, but what the heck.

So the shop owner and I hit it off and his name was … ready … Touhaf el Shark (seriously I even have his card). I immediately found a beautiful red leaded ornament that appeared to be an Egyptian house. Perfect. The guy then tried to sell me 12 and I told him no just 1. After some haggling I paid 45 Egyptian pounds for the ornament. I was happy. Touhaf was ecstatic. (And since the ornaments were so dusty it did not appear they were big sellers.)

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Me and Tareq

I almost skipped back through the bizarre and then as I was bouncing along …. the best line of the day… “Lady, Lady Lady… I don’t know what you’re looking for, but I know that I have it right here.” I started laughing, kept walking and kept laughing. It was such a good line that I thought what the heck… I turned around with a broad smile and started to walk towards the guy. All he said was “YES!” “OK funny guy. You made me laugh. I’ll buy something from you.” I immediately went for a Nefertiti key chain (which I had planned to buy anyway before I left the bazaar as another more “Egyptian themed” Christmas ornament). By now the lines from “Tarek” as I learned he was named, were just flying at me. “You are so beautiful.” “Can I have a picture with you movie star.” “I am so honored to meet you my Queen. What else can I sell you.” “Listen dude. I like the Nefertiti key chain and maybe this one. That’s it.” He said the price was 80 Egyptian pounds and I told him my bottom line was 40. “Listen funny guy 40 pounds and that is it. That’s my bottom line.” He still wanted to go through the drill. He came down to 60 and I said 40. 50? Uh no. 40. 45? 40. 44? 43? 42? 41? 40! Done. He then insisted that we have our picture taken together. Quite frankly, I wish the guy had stuff in his store that I actually wanted to buy because he was so damned entertaining.

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Outside the Khan el-Kalil

So I found my guide, left the bazaar and headed back to my hotel. I said goodbye to Mr. Sourpuss guide who I tipped far less than I normally would have. (He was very good at the sites, but the lunch debacle just overroad the rest of the pluses.) So with that, my time in Cairo came to an end and I was headed off to Luxor in the morning for my trip down the Nile on the dahabiya.

Author: lawyerchick92

I am a lawyer by trade, but long to be a full time traveller. My life changed for the better when my brother donated a kidney to me on October 14, 2002.

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