Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Greetings from Egypt
The Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Cheops
While the rest of the tour group shows up this afternoon, Josh, David and I took advantage of our late night arrival to get a head start. We found a cab driver that would take us on a 3 hour tour of the Pyramids and Giza plateau for only 130 Egyptian Pounds (about 22 bucks...). His name was Ashraf and he did a great job of getting us to the sites and giving us good advice - some of which we apparently forgot at one point.
First he took us up to a spot to get a panoramic photo of the three big pyramids. His best advice of the day was when someone comes up to us trying to give us something or sell us something, just say "No Thanks" and keep going. We got a number of good shots from the panorama site and then headed down towards the pyramids where we walked around some more snapping happily.
As we came around a corner, we saw a guy on a camel. He asked us if we wanted to take a picture of it and we said "No thanks" (cuz we already had) but then he showed us another camel named Rambo. OK, actually it's name appeared to be Rabmo according to the embroidery on his...um...coat... but maybe he figured Rambo would get 3 Americans more interested. At this point, we made the mistake of not saying No Thanks and moving on. It was all a bit of a blur, but suddenly we were all sitting on top of camels wearing sheets on our head and the camel guys were taking pictures of us with our cameras. These guys are good. While they tried to get us to go for a 10 minute ride but we finally got our "No Thank You's" working and we were let down, separated, and asked to make them happy. Apparently, $20 wasn't enough since they wanted something closer to $100 each. I tried to get Josh and David together so we could do some collective bargaining. David had paid $40 so Josh and I ended up doing the same figuring that $5 was about right for the photos and $35 was an appropriate price to pay for the lesson of remembering to say no thanks.
We moved on and were much better at keeping the pushy sales folk at bay. While walking past the Great Pyramid of Cheops, someone approached me and asked where I was from. "France", I said, and spent the next couple of minutes trying to get past him speaking both French and English with a French accent. He kept offering me a cadeau but I declined. He stuck it in my hand and I kept trying to hand it back to him but he kept saying it was a cadeau. I kept walking and each time he spoke to me, I offered him back the gift "Non, Merci". No mercy was right. He kept going. Once he realized that I wasn't going to bite on any of his other offers, he asked for a little something for the cadeau. I handed it back to him and moved on. Phew!
We headed down the the Sphinx where we took a bunch more pictures and whenever we were offered more rides on camels, Josh was quick to respond "No thanks, we've already been taken for a ride today."
The actual tour group meets in an hour or so and tomorrow we will be heading right back to the same place to take more pictures but this time, I'm going to get pictures of other folks getting taken for a ride.
Wrong way David... ;)