When I was child my family moved all over the world but despite my lucky life I complained that I had only been as far south in the world as the lower regions of France. This complaining came as a result of two 20 year old cousins who came to live with us in Belgium for one year when I was 13. They were travelling all over europe and I was stuck in Grade 8 waiting to have a real grown up existence.
I am currently at the Red Sea in Hurghada, Egypt and have spent the last 12 days on a tour travelling throughout this interesting, shocking and incredible city. In 15 minutes I will head to dinner with my small tour group and I had requests to update my blog. Here are some of the things I have learned while I am here or information that I want to remember to research when I get home:
1. When Egyptian men flirt propose marriage or make sexual advances it is only because they want more of your money, a Visa to enter Canada, or sex. Not a shock. We Western women are not always portrayed as the most wholesome by Hollywood, and well, that is what people see this far away from that shiny place by the ocean in the 'America'.
2. Hagle for everything. Fix the price you are willing to spend in your head and walk away of you don't get it. Either the vendor will run after you and give you the price you want, or you will find the same item down the market street and you can begin haggling all over again.
3. Don't open your mouth in the Red Sea. Salt water, ick!
4. Expect to pay $1 - 3 American dollars each day on the largest bottle of water you have ever seen. Be prepared to drink it in one day. You will only have to pee once, the rest is used by the body or is sweated out.
5. The Nile river is beautiful, lush, feeding the small strip of green around it and then there is desert. Lots and lots of desert. Don't get stuck in the desert. Stay by the Nile.
6. The BEST way to see the Valley of the Kings where 62 graves have been found of former rulers is by Air Balloon. The view is astronomical and you can take pictures while you glide along. You can't take pictures if you go in by foot.
7. Don't bring a lot of clothes, save room for purchases in the suitcase.
8. Don't cross the street in Cairo, Aswan or Luxor without the help of a local. You will die alone and it will be your fault. Not the drivers.
9. Bone up on your hieroglyphic (sp?) symbols when you come. The adorn every temple and countless monuments and it would be fantastic to be able to read at least one symbol or two.
10. Yala! means hurry up. That is the extent of my Arabic. (Thank you my old boss from Dairy Queen, Gabi for that.)
11. Take a historical tour like me, unless you are wise to the ways of the Arabic language, know how to drive in mass chaos, or wish to wander in the hot desert looking for the occasional oasis.
12. Bring American money or Egyptian pounds. Canadian money does not count and looks counterfit here. (Too colourful.)
13. Bring a bathing suite and cover up. There is always water and a chance to swim.
14. While cruising down the Nile take advantage of the massage therapist on board the ship. Get another ship if there isn't one on yours.
15. As you disembark your Nile cruise ship, be prepared to walk through as many as 5 other ships lobbies to get to the shore. Think if it as a sneak peak as you compare your ship to others.
16. Bring Imodium, just in case.
17. Bring a sense of humour and ensure that you know the lines on the streets are not traffice control devices painted on for assitance and to maintain orderliness, they are mere decoration.
18. Ride a camel.
19. Pick up a baby crocodile but only if someone has tied a string around its long, sharp teethed mouth. Do not pick up the 'running wild and free' ones.
20. Stand and soak in the 5,000 years of history that reins supreme here. At the Pyramids, Memphis, Luxor Temple, city mosque, Valley of the Kings, Hapsetsuit (sp!), Cairo Museum, Tutenkhamon exhibit, or any other location, take your time, feel the history and let the past touch you soul.
21. If you have the chance to go up in the roof of the hotel in the dark to swim alone and be one with the water, Egyptian night, stars, and the Islamic prayers ringing out from 6 different mosques at once, do it, Do it, DO IT!!!
22. Go to the Cairo Museum. Stare into the golden death mask of Tutankhamun. Just ponder. Obsorb. Don't let the crowd pressure you to move on. Just stare until you are done.
The 12 day trip has been amazing and more experiences, surprises, gut wrenching drives and voyages to come. I am off to enjoy a shwarma at the local market!