It’s the people that make the place, and Egypt is no exception. From the taxi drivers zipping through the chaos of the Cairo souks and downtown bustle, to the hustler vendors coaxing their way into selling yo-yo’s and flashing balls as you eat dinner, to the marriage proposals from too many men, to the iconically obnoxious American travel group; here is the story or stories of the many, seemingly random people who made Egypt such a special, chaotic, wild, and unforgettable adventure.
- The travel group
Our trip to Egypt can never be recalled without mention of our incredible travel group. Of course, we had to come up with our “ship” name, which after much debate was settled as Smulligram! So let’s introduce the crew –
1. the five person Maurry family, who we’ve previously traveled with through the Stans, Asia, and Europe. They’re from Italy, Greece, and California.
2. Dominic and Kathy Ingram – mom and son from California. Dominic is cousins with the Murray children.
3. Haytham – our beloved tour guide
4. and of course – my family!
I can’t even picture Egypt without our group. There are so many spontaneous, weird and hilarious memories – with just a few highlights written here. Whether we were having dinner or touring the pyramids of Giza, we were always coming up with a ridiculous inside joke. Every night, we piled seven people onto the floor and watched a movie from a laptop perched on a chair; accompanying our movie, we convinced the hotel to give us free sodas! Each destination we wanted to reach became a racing game in our three taxis. Tired of Egyptain and Indian food, we ordered Pizza Hut and all got food poisoning from our first non-street food meal since our arrival in Egypt. And obviously, touring Luxor, Cairo, Abu Simbel and sailing down the Nile, was surely all a massive highlight, but our company was what truly made Egypt so special.
- Taxi Drivers
At nine pm at Cairo International Airport, all I can think about is a shower and a long sleep. After 22 hours traveling, my mind is foggy, my eyes fuzzy, my hair greasy, and my body exhausted. But – the hassle of the taxi drivers keeps me on my toes; Suddenly I’m alert and ready to bargain my way towards the cheapest price to Giza. When 200 Egyptian pounds is finally yelled out and accepted by a taxi driver, I shake my head in disbelief. Somehow we managed to negotiate the initial 400 pounds down to 80 Egyptian pound taxi ride down to 2000!
Speeding through bursts of traffic, late night mosque-goers, and the stalls of souks spilling onto the highway, our taxi driver skillfully weaves his way through the tumultuous disorder. My ears ring from Egyptian pop music pouring out from cars and the honking our taxi driver produces. Life in Cairo doesn’t stop at night – with 22 million people co-existing in the city, every single taxi ride during my trip in Egypt is a chance to witness the beauty of the Egyptian population – and maybe put my life at slight risk.
Through the dusty side streets of Luxor, to the eight lane highways in Cairo, to the dry and dusty countryside of Saqqara, I witness Egypt’s diversity from inside a yellow taxi. With each driver we encounter, every ride turns into a history lesson. Answering the drivers’ burning questions, we describe New York City and Los Angeles, and of course, attempt to describe where Wyoming is on a map – that one we usually let go. In turn, our drivers always happily answer our questions – how tall is the Red Pyramid, when will the national museum finish construction, and what is the best Egyptian food item?
- Future Husbands
As if we were a glass light fixture or dusty trinket waiting to be bargained for at the souk, seemingly innocent men certainly gave us a good laugh in Egypt. At the hotel breakfast buffet, our waiter brings me an unsolicited coffee…and then another…and another. After I had already finished my large breakfast, he brings me a pancake tower drizzled with chocolate and decorated with strawberries! In the souk, a market vendor asks my sister if she would marry him for ten camels. She replies, “I’m worth a thousand camels.” A couple stalls down, yet another vendor asks me to marry him! Of course I say, “how many camels, though?” While a tad bit insulting, and very misogynistic, these experiences certainly provide a few good laughs, and these experiences were definitely more creative than the typical catcalling. Like I said, if you’re ever feeling ugly – fly to Cairo and walk down the road!