Went out and checked out Saqqara, Dahshur, Memphis, and Giza. Had a fun driver named Hossein take me around. Met an Aussie named Tom who spit some history knowledge at me while we climbed up and through things (the Mastaba of Ti was pretty cool). Had a meal sponsored by Julie (Thanks! Video when I find a fast connection) at the Saqqara Nest restaurant. Climbed into a pyramid, wandered into a tomb, rode a horse for the second time in my life, and survived not only Egyptian traffic but the Egyptian meal as well (so far).
Part of the tour involved checking out a carpet school (where they tried to sell me some goods) and a papyrus shop (where they tried to sell me goods). I can't be buyin' nothin' folks, sorry. Though after learning a bit about papyrus history and stories behind the art, I was tempted. I suggested that they make smaller pieces.
The tipping thing is frustrating. Everyone wants a tip for something. At the step pyramid, the guides wanted some so I slyly pointed towards the Aussie who hadn't come out yet and they went after him. My driver got a kick out of that. At the carpet shop, the merchant wanted 10 LE after I offered 1 LE. He refused to take it. My money's no good unless it's more (granted, I think 1 LE is 20-cents... but if you're an Egyptian, that'll get you a bottle of water where I have to pay five times or more as a tourist) The horse guide also didn't like my tip. But you know what, I've got six more months to live and some plastic debt building up, I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I've learned how to say no and thank you in Arabic. That's all I need I think.
I've also started to tell people that I'm from Canada. I think I should switch it to Australia. Can't let them know there are poor people from California wandering the world.
The one mistake I made today was to take the horse around the pyramids instead of going in on foot. I think I overpaid even after 15 minutes of bargaining and everyone wearing very unhappy faces. What happens is that you take these horses or camels (I'll ride one of those tomorrow) around the hills of the ancient sites. True you get some nice photos from there but you don't actually go inside the grounds where you have to pay for entry. It was an interesting experience but I may have to return to get a closer look.
Toilets: I've suddenly encountered the toilets with a hose next to them for spraying your bottom off. Makes me worry about touching fixtures and handles around the place. Fortunately places catering to tourists have had TP. I've also had to deal with showers with no shower curtain. You get a small square to stand in and the water sprays all over the floor. On the Greek islands this got pretty messy and here in Egypt they often have a big squeegee in the bathroom for pushing the water towards the drain afterwards. Fun.