11.05.2013 - 11.05.2013 35 °C
Cruise Day 6
We had a great night sleep. After the long busy day concluding close to eleven pm, we were tired.
How do you know when your wife is starting to age just a wee bit? When they begin to show some initial signs of paranoia. Our tour guide very kindly and assuredly said that he had made arrangements with the hotel for all on our bus tour group to be given a wake up call for six the following morning. As we laid down on our king sized bed with the starchiest sheets I have ever seen, Susan had a dire pang of worry about the morning. These were her words almost verbatim: “What if our room isn't called because they forgot to put us on the list?”
As I calmly tried to reassure her by saying the odds of that happening were infinitesimal, she already had her BlackBerry PlayBook out and was busying herself with the setting of the alarm the clock. Amused, I said for a joke: “Do you think I should set my cell phone's alarm too?” To my astonishment . . . she agreed saying “You can never be too sure.”
paranoia (noun): a psychological disorder characterized by delusions of persecution or grandeur
(SM: Paranoia is the wrong word. I will admit to worrying overmuch. But that is not being paranoid.)
Our wake up call rang at six am precisely and we readied ourselves for our quick breakfast before heading out. This was a five star hotel and we were designated to dine in one of many banquet rooms serving breakfast that morning. We arrived just in time to be seated with the most annoying member of our bus tour group. One solitary case in point. After being regaled mercilessly about his exploits, his travels, his views on life etc etc etc, Susan and I found ourselves without a very needed second cup of coffee. “Superman” immediately picked up on our dilemma and instantly was sitting erect and began loudly snapping his fingers at the wait staff. When eye contact was made he again snapped his fingers twice more emphatically pointing as he did so to the two empty mugs that were ours. Once the conveyance was completed, an intense aura of satisfaction washed all over him. Then, he looked me keenly in the eyes and winked while he boasted: “Well, what do you think? Did you like that??” I had a line hastily prepared for him but I held my tongue, to the relief of Susan.
Anyway in no time at all we were at the pyramids. We had them to our selves for the entire morning. The photos say it all. They are awesome, and speaking confidently for the two of us, well worth the wait in our life. Those ancient Egyptians were amazing.
One highlight was that we had available to us an option for a 45 minute camel ride for $20. Of the twenty-eight members of our bus, only 14 opted in. That gave the freedom of not having to arrange a camel ride in Dubai, which is something we thought we were going to do.
Our camels were just fine. Mine was a sedate six year old named Bob Marley. The only thing was my “saddle”. I know they aren't really called that. Actually our guide said that the beauty of riding a camel is you don't have to sit on a saddle, rather a 'couch'. Fair enough, except my “couch” was lopsided and tilted. For all my adjusting and moving, the whole time my privates kept creeping dangerously close to the horn, and try as I might, I just couldn't comfortably sit straight. And these beasts sway like crazy!! Eight feet up makes the sway conjure up wheel chairs and permanent disability if I fell. And going downhill (remember the 'creep' problem on level ground?) was a real adventure. To make things worse, several times I saw Susan, on her mount, casually waving with both hands, holding the camera and leisurely taking pictures.
Two other quick observations. First of all, the merchants, sellers and guys plainly just trying to flog stuff on you. They are out there, en masse. But, as opposed to some, even Val and Susan, I quickly learned an easy way to evade them. If moving in a determined hurry and not making any eye contact doesn't work, then simply saying unequivocally “NO! No Thank you!! loudly and clearly did the trick with me. Standing tall and menacing didn't hurt either. Deep down you know they are just trying to make a buck. But even our tour guide, a born and bred Egyptian who loves his country, continually warned us about them. He did however give us information on legitimate things that they were selling and what we should expect to pay, and who exactly to stay away from.
The other thing is Cairo and Alexandria themselves. I think Cairo is the third city I've seen with fifteen million people plus. The squalor was more atrocious than any other though. But not only that, the life of the people seemed so hard. I thought Mexico had some eye raising sights but these two cities take the cake. Having said that, last night (Friday) was a day off for the people and downtown Giza was a party. The half hour ride back from Saqqarra to our hotel was one of the most interesting in my life. I just couldn't believe that I share the earth with these people but we are so different.
On neat thing was that on our bright yellow tour bus we were noticed. It was neat to notice that dozens and dozens of times we got horn honks, high fives, peace signs and the like from pedestrians and driver alike. The people are truly amazing I believe. I'm very intrigued.
We had a boxed lunch served to us on the way back to the cruise ship today. Not much to write home about. By the time we reached the terminal all we wanted had been eaten, which was some very bland sub sandwiches, an over ripe tomato and cucumber with potato chips and some fruit juice. The boxes they were served in were huge, like big cake size box big. I was astonished to see one of our troupe while getting off the bus, grab the two his wife and him were given and obviously hadn't completed, stick them under his arm and begin his march to the cruise ship, where bounteous, overflowing buffets, and entire restaurants were ready to feed him for free. Go figure. His nationality? You'll never guess. Contact me.
Suez Canal tomorrow.