Thursday, June 17, 2010

35 things learned in Egypt (Sunday, June 6)

1) Egyptians can be exhausting.

2) Egyptians can be kind.

3) Did we mention, Egyptians can be exhausting?

4) In order to enter Saudi Arabia, women must be accompanied by a male relative.

5) Egyptian women can, and do, swim in the beaches fully dressed in long denim skirts and hijabs.

6) Bedouins smoke a LOT of hashish.

7) Everybody on the Sinai smokes weed and hashish.

8) Honey sheesha is strong and delicious. Peach and apple sheeshas are nice, but really, mango is where it’s at.

9) Southern Egypt is HOT.

10) One can feel like they are falling off a cliff when snorkeling near a steep reef drop off.

11) The Sphinx is small.

12) The Great Pyramids are big, but not as big as you expect.

13) Tombs smell like pee. All of them. Partially because of ammonia, fungus, and old, humid air collecting, but partially because people pee in them all the time.

14) You can develop Pavlovian reactions to words. For example: baksheesh = slap upside the head.

15) Luxor is better at night.

16) The Nile is better at night.

17) Just because you wash your hands like a crazy person does not mean that anybody else will. Exercise caution.

18) Four layers of antibacterial gel on your hands feels just like dirt. Whether or not it is antibacterialized dirt has yet to be determined.

19) Egyptians are extremely bitter about losing to Algeria in the run-up to the World Cup.

20) Showering in salt water means you never get a lather on anything.

21) Everything is negotiable.

22) For proper falafel and hummus, you really need to head out of Africa and into the Middle East.

23) One can eat fuul at the horrifically filthy restaurant across the street from the ferry terminal in Nuweiba and NOT get sick. This remains one of the biggest surprises of our travel.

24) 20-hour bus rides are long. Like, really, really long. And Gabe may argue with you that they are not *that* long, but they are really, really long.

25) The last 3 hours of a 20-hour bus ride are the worst, and even Gabe will agree to that.

26) Good guy-bad guy works well when bartering.

27) 5-year-old children can hustle. Don’t trust the kids in Egypt, they’ll work you for every pound you’ve got.

28) Arabian horses really are the most stunning animals in the universe.

29) Being the only woman in streets full of men NEVER gets easier.

30) Egypt is the “Hollywood” of the Middle East and exports tons of films and other media, including its language. So Jordanians, for example, can understand the Egyptian Arabic dialect, but not vice versa.

31) Pearly white tourists will never cease to amaze in their inability to properly prepare for the sun.

32) Pearly white tourists are often fat Americans.

33) The McDonald’s in Luxor, across the street from the Temple of Luxor, is a wonderful place to spend a deliciously air-conditioned, wi-fi-ed afternoon. NO JOKE.

34) The sleeper train from Cairo to Aswan is a treat.

35) Politeness does nothing when shooing away touts.

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