I made it on my flight to Cairo just in the nick of time. I met a fascinating new friend in Athens and sat at a cafe listening to his life experiences. The man's lived a hundred lives and he's just seven years older than me. Seems that I've met quite a few interesting characters while traveling Greece. I think after Italy, I've been forcing myself to open up more. What I get in return is a mixed bag but I am finding stories and that was one of the goals.
The heaviest bag you can carry is an empty purse.
I say don't seize the day, seize the moment. -Dimitrius the Firebreather
After some apprehension about the price, I got a cab from Cairo airport to my hostel at 4am. It was the fastest taxi ride of my life. I'd been warned by some Canadians that I should just get into a cab, close my eyes, and hope for the best. It was pretty exciting albeit white-knuckling at times. Total disregard for lanes and for other cars.
Today I wandered out onto the streets which are busy with merchants selling the strangest things. I found myself on a street of car parts, a street of blue jeans, and a street of skimpy dress shops. I don't know who wears the skimpy dresses because most women wear head scarves (this is the closest I'll get to Azad's world). The constant stream of beautiful women I've seen in every country I've visited had slowed to a trickle here. Though the occassional beautiful face is alluring when you can't see the rest.
I stopped into the Egyptian Museum which was far more expensive than I was anticipating. 50 L.E. (about $10US) to get in (I'd read it was 20) and another 100 L.E. to see the Royal Mummies. The collection is immense but poorly organized. Word is that there will be a much bigger museum built in the near future but right now, you kind of just wander through this warehouse like hall of artifacts. Fortunately I got out just before the big tour groups were streaming in.
For the next couple of days, I've booked a car to take me out to the Pyramids and a night train to take me to Luxor for the rest of the week. As exciting as it is to be in a wild African city, I'm looking forward to some more island life in Corfu.
Some cons of Cairo: I'm getting eatin' by mosquitos and as soon as they bite, I get nasty reactions. I was thinking about how the West Nile virus was spreading through New York some time ago. Then I thought, "Wait, I'm on the Nile right now... does that mean these 'squitos are carrying this virus?!"
I never know what I'm supposed to pay for anything here. If you're buying something, you're supposed to barter no matter what. But I ain't buyin' anything but food? How much should that water have cost? How much is that soda? Every transaction involves suspicion. And so many people warned me about food poisoning, I'm not quite sure where to eat. Hunger's going to come knocking any minute now. But first, a nap.
Side Story: Some Eqyptian dude on the street saw me looking confused, trying to find my hostel. He pointed the way and started to tell me about how he deals in essences. He apparently runs a 150 acre flower farm and four factories that create the essence from over 70 types of flowers. These oils are sold to clients like the Body Shop. Next thing you know, I'm in a shop having rose, papayrus, and jasmine oil rubbed on my arm. I gotta say, I wouldn't mind having some essence to keep me fresh on my trip but I have my rule about buying things that don't go in the stomach. "Do you have a wife... girlfriend... mother... sister? I have many sizes, strong bottles..." I said I'd think about it and took off. He looked less friendly. It's been a few hours though and my arm smells great.