Preparation for Egyptian Hustlers
Egypt, Egypt, Egypt!
We were Egypt bound as we dropped off the key to our room with the hotel mafia man in Eilat. We were excited . . . though apprehensive. The stipulation behind getting a reduced priced room in Eilat was based upon us staying for two nights, when we only really had time for one. We stayed.
This gave us 24 hours before our flight departed from Cairo.
24 hours to travel from Israel to Cairo International. If all went well, we would carve out this route like a sharp hobby knife through a soggy chunk of meerschaum — smooth, fluid, and quick.
It is only a pity that Chaya and I have never done anything is such fashion.
It would have been smart — real smart — for us to have went straight to Egypt from Jordan, as this would have given us a few day buffer to get to Cairo.
But we are not this smart.
Upon finding ourselves in the warm sun and listless days of beachy Israel, we could not bear the thought of leaving. Chaya had not been in Israel since she was a child, and, being Jewish, she possesses a certain drawn to this land.
Although she will not admit it.
The sharp drop off between the Muslim and the Jewish worlds was steep. Israel had the comfortable feeling of, I hate to report, home — well, a southeastern Florida feeling of home, not my real home in the fields and orchards of rural America. Eilat boasted shopping malls and clean cut condos and nice clean white people who do not yell at you when you pass in the street.
Basically, Israel has everything that I despise about certain parts of the USA. But because of this it felt very comfortable.
It reminded me of my juvenile days when I took my second trip off the farm — my first long-term journey — and went to southeastern Florida. Eilat reminded me of those youthful days of walking all by myself aimlessly on the sandy earth with a bright sun shinning down upon a head that was fully occupied with wild ideas of the future — of wild ideas of traveling the world:
As a poor ass dirtbag going for all day lonely walks amongst the condominiums, luxury apartment blocks, and undeveloped scrublands of Boca Raton, Florida, I worked out a vision of my life in travel.
This has been — perhaps — the only vision of gradour that has every played itself out in experience. I am still dreaming the same dreams now as I did as an 18 year old punk in ritzy Jewish Florida. I have no idea how I ended up in Boca Raton
. . . oh yeah, I wanted to study lizards or whales or something like that.
Walking through Eilat reminded me of these solitary days of my youth where my only friends were dreams of the Open Road. I found a cat’s cradle of comfort in Israel that I did not want to leave.
Especially since I knew that my next stretch of travel was going through Egypt.
I never before gave Egypt a fair shot of good, long term travel — this I know — but I have always regarded it as a no-go zone for any traveler that is proud enough to fight for a fair price. My first run through Egypt was a struggle, and I knew that my second one would be as well.
“I hate Egypt and anything to do with Egypt,” I spoke to a surprised Chaya as we walked through Eilat. She looked at me as if I were an ignorant tourist making baseless value judgments — I was — but I also knew that by the end of this run that she, too, would hate Egypt with me.
Though all too often, the feeling of hate mixes with a feeling of love. Extreme emotions have the tendency of blending together and meeting in the middle. I know that there is a strain deep down inside me that enjoys the challenge of traveling in Egypt without being ripped off at every turn.
Deep down, I know that I really enjoy telling people to go shit in their hats when they try to force me into paying inane tips or cheating me on everything I try to purchase.
I love the game of traveling through the tourist’s world as much as I hate it. It keeps my edges sharp and my wits keen. I also have the deep feeling that the people who I play this game with are also playing — everything is illusion in the tourist’s world.
Everybody, everything is ephimeral — here today and gone tomorrow — and everybody knows it. Nothing really matters, all interaction based around commerce is a game that is played on all sides.
(note: if you are reading this with the notion that the people of the world are poor miserly beggars and that I am so rich in comparison that I should give away my money freely and allow myself to be taking advantage of in the name of charity, then I tell you, too, to go shit in your hat. the majority of the people in this world are proud, upright individuals, and I will treat them as such. I will not belitte people who I do not even know by giving handouts. it is my impression that many places of the tourist world are packed with intelligent people who know that a foreign face is a potential payday if they can properly utilize their wit. I have a certain strain of admiration for the Egyptian hustler — they know their game well, and, as you shall see in the coming narration, they are good at it. it is my feeling that allowing yourself to be taken advantage of in the name of “charity” is to be taken as a fool . . . it is my current impression that by being cheated you are not putting yourself up on top of the pedestal of a grand proliferator of wealth, who gives freely to the poor, niggardly masses, but are placing yourself upon the stage as a money dispensing idiot. tourism is a game, if I take it seriously, I will lose.)
On to Egypt.
Vagabond Journey on Traveling in a Tourist’s World
Tourist Guilt and Helping the Poor
Tourism at Wadi Musa – Petra
Backpacking is Dead — Long Live the Backpacker
Donate Money to Africa
Tourist Charity and Street Children
Traveling in a Tourist’s World
On Moroccan Touts
Travel Tip #5- Not Your Friend
Preparation for Travel in Egypt