Hhhhmm, let's see. Last night I was out rocking it with some of the students I meet from Michigan at the Cairo Jazz Club at the Hilton as it was their last night in town and it was nice to be out and getting a drink on for the first time since I have been here. Being that it's a Muslim country there are not that many bars around or that many people that drink or bars woman can go to without the fear of being harassed or as a matter of fact bars that I would really want to go to because I think I would get harassed. And talk about haggling they wanted 40lbs each to get in (one drink included) since we were not staying there but I got them to let 2 people in for free since there were 6 of us and they don;t drink. It was supposed to be a Jazz joint but instead it was Salsa night so that made it even more interesting. It was a pretty good night though and when I left everyone around 1AM trying to go and find some food before the vendors shut down I was amazed that I didn't get lost on the way home.
Today though I found myself buying my ticket to Dahab down in Sinai and as I was walking around the area I found myself beset upon by a kid who works as a 13 or 14 year old mechanic to take his picture so I did and then I showed it to someone who then wanted me to take his picture then someone else's and so on and so on until I had photographed two barbers, about 7 or 8 mechanics, one old man reading a paper and another guy smoking a shesha. But by then Mr. George and Mr. Aden from the muffler shop had bought me lunch and a Pepsi and the Barbers had bought me a drink from one of the mildly crazy street vendors. Now I should say that I am normally wary of taken peoples pictures who want their pictures taken because they usually demand money afterwards which gets me agitated, so to save myself some aggravation I just don't. Today though I did take their pictures and even gave them my camera to take my picture and it turned out to be the best part of my day. Today was my day to be greeted to Egypt by everyday people. People who refused my money and were only doing things out of the generosity of their heart. Did I say that they hardly spoke any english? We had broken conversations for two hours, it was great.
But I had to move on and meet up with Clem who was a 39 year old texan out of Austin (Here's a little shout out to you guys in Austin!) who has been traveling on and off for the last 5 years and is currently teaching English in Poland. Tracked dude down at a internet place and headed off to find Hussain square and the "markets". The Market's are probably one of the biggest tourist traps in Cairo. Shops for almost anything you want are there. Prints on papyrus sheet's, jewelry, spices, cloths, and tons of touts and aggressive salesmen, shouting, "How can I take your money" (literally) or aggressive waiters demanding and grabbing your elbow to sit in their restaurant. I asked one guy how much was his shesha and he said 10lbs, first off all I pay 4 around the corner from the guest house and thats already a tourist price. So I laughed at him and told him what was so funny and he dropped it to 5 but he had already lost my business. Meanwhile Clem was finding himself in a bidding war over a bottle of Coke between 3 different restaurants. We finally settled on a 3lb Coke and a 5lb Shesha. That's about just about 50cents for a drink and $1usd for the smoke. Now understand, it's obviously not the money but the principle, especially when they are trying gouge you on the prices, besides we were still paying tourist prices anyway.
Now when we had first arrived at the area we had been approached by a guy who pushed the hard sell ( he said his father owned the coffee shop andhe was rich anyway, uh yeah) and I was instantly put off but Clem wanted to go and check it out so the next thing you know we are in a papyrus shop looking at some guys "art work". Another oh yea. . . this is also the same guy who told us it costs 12 egyptian pounds to enter the mosque. Actually it's free but the guys at the mosque want 10 to climb the tower and the guy who takes your shoes demands to be paid 1lb for taking your shoes. The joys of a system where people dealing with tourists demand a tip for every little thing.
Another side note here, we went into another pypyrus shop and found out that A- Clem takes forever to shop and that B - the first set of prints that he had bought were over priced and not as good. This kind of thing happens all the time though and only by comparison shopping that you find out. What he paid 30lbs for two prints the other shop sells at 8lbs per print all day. Anytime someone puts the hard sell on you on the street it's not good.
So after all of this we started our walk back to the guest house thru Cairo rush hour traffic which I can honestly say is like nothing I have ever seen before. There are no real lanes and no traffic lights that actually are used. I mean they are there but they all just blink yellow and traffic merges like you cross the street, all at once and weaving in and out to avoid being hit. It's actually pretty impressive that you don't see more accidents or people being hit.
All in all it's been an interesting day, and at the end of it Clem and I got into talking about our lives and our relationships at home over some crappy McDonalds. Oh the joy, now I'm feeling a bit put out and we are both I think , or maybe just me, feeling a bit lost. This is the first time though that for one reason or another I found myself talking about my personal life with anyone since I have been traveling. Which is also probably why I am writing about it here. Thanks to Clem I am now wondering if Jen is married by now or not which is having me feeling a bit unsettled. But atleast tomorrow is another day and as always keeping my feet moving keeps my head clear.
One more note, people who I have meet who have been traveling or are on the beggining of their trips rarely talk about home. I can only think of two people who have openly talked about "home". And both of these were on Koh Tao and only after we had all known each other for awhile.