Cairo, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
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To make the world a slightly better place for my having been here.
BEFORE YOU GET INTO THE NITTY-GRITTY OF WHAT THIS COUNTRY IS ABOUT BELOW, PLEASE READ THESE OPENING PARAGRAPHS AND ABSORB ITS CONTENT WELL.
OVER THE LAST YEAR, THREE AMERICAN COUCHSURFERS HAVE STOLEN FROM ME. TWO OF THOSE THEFTS WERE MINOR BUT THE LAST ONE WAS PERPETRATED BY A WOMAN NAMED ERIN NELSON FOR TURLOCK, CALIFORNIA WHO WAS SUPPOSEDLY BIKING AROUND THE WORLD. WHEN SHE HAD LEFT MY PLACE, I FOUND THAT SHE HAD STOLEN OVER $20,000 OF CAMERAS, EQUIPMENT AND CASH. MORE THAN THAT, THE PHOTOS OF HALF COMPLETED JOURNALISTIC PROJECTS ON MY MEMORY CHIPS ( THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IN OTHER WORDS) WERE WORTH AT LEAST ANOTHER $47,000. AND, THE LOSSES CONTINUE TO RISE BECAUSE WITHOUT MY CAMERAS, I CANNOT WORK.
FROM HERE ON IN, IF YOU WANT HOSTING BY ME, YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO SUPPLY THE NAMES OF TWO REFEREES OUT OF COUCHSURFING WHO WILL VOUCH FOR YOUR HONESTY. IF I ACCEPT YOU, YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO LEAVE A PASSPORT COPY WITH ME FOR MY PEACE OF MIND. IF YOU ARE AN INVETERATE THIEF, CON ARTIST AND CONSUMMATE LIAR LIKE ERIN NELSON, GO AND AND STAY SOMEWHERE ELSE.
IF ANYONE READING THIS WANTS THE FULL ERIN NELSON STORY, PLEASE ASK ME. I WILL BE PLEASED TO SUPPLY IT. IF YOU COME FROM AROUND THE MODESTO/TURLOCK AREA OF CALIFORNIA, THEN I WOULD VALUE YOUR HELP IN A COUPLE OF SMALL MATTERS APPERTAINING TO THE ABOVE THEFT. THANKS IN ANTICIPATION.
YOU SHOULD ALSO BE AWARE THAT THAT THE COUCHSURFING ORGANIZATION APPEARS TO CONDONE AND ENCOURAGE THIEVES BECAUSE THEY HAVE KNOWINGLY ALLOWED ERIN NELSON TO ESCAPE NEGATIVE FEED-BACKS ON HER PROFILE THROUGH LETTING HER PUT UP NEW PROFILES (SO FAR FIVE IN ALL THAT I'M AWARE OF!)ENABLING HER TO AVOID THE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK THAT I AND OTHERS LEFT FOR HER.
SHE IS ALSO SOUGHT IN INDIA WHERE SHE CRIMINALLY DAMAGED THE PROPERTY OF ANOTHER CS.
YOU MIGHT WONDER, AS I DO, WHY COUCHSURFING ALLOWS SUCH PEOPLE TO PROWL THEIR WEBSITE AND RIP OFF OTHER POTENTIAL HOSTS. THE ANSWER IS THEY DO NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF THEIR SITE MEMBERS AND NEVER HAVE DONE. THEY ARE ONLY INTERESTED IN HOW MUCH THEY GATHER IN IN CONTRIBUTIONS.
BE ALSO AWARE THAT, IF YOU ARE CONTEMPLATING COMING TO CAIRO AT THIS TIME, THE COUNTRY IS STILL IN A STATE OF FLUX AFTER THE REVOLUTION. THAT MEANS THERE IS A LOT MORE STREET CRIME AROUND THAN HITHERTO, WORSENED BY THE THOUSANDS OF RETURNING EXPAT EGYPTIANS WHO FLED THE TROUBLES IN LlBYA AND SYRIA AND WHO SOMEHOW, HAVE TO FEED THEIR FAMILIES. THE INCIDENTS OF ARMED ROBBERY ON THE STREET HAVE RISEN BY 100 TIMES. EVEN OF A BUSY STREET LIKE MINE WHERE THERE ARE ALWAYS MANY PEOPLE AROUND, DAYLIGHT MUGGINGS OCCUR. THERE WERE THREE RECENTLY ATTEMPTED (BUT FAILED)KIDNAPPINGS UPON WOMEN AND ONE SUCCESSFUL ONE THAT OCCURRED IN THE LAST FEW MONTHS. A BRITISH FEMALE TOURIST LISTENED TO THE CONSTANT STREAM OF BULLSHIT THAT TOURISTS (ESPECIALLY FEMALES)ARE SUBJECTED TO HERE. FOR HER NAIVETY, SHE FOUND HERSELF IMPRISONED IN A HOUSE WHILST THE GUY WHO HAD SWEET-TALKED HER THERE ATTEMPTED TO SELL HER TO SOME BEDOUIN WHO ARE HEAVILY INVOLVED IN WHITE SLAVERY. FORTUNATELY FOR HER, SHE MANAGED TO ESCAPE FROM THE HOUSE AND GET TO THE BRITISH EMBASSY AND GET HELP. HAD SHE NOT HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO ESCAPE, SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN DESTINED FOR A LIFE OF ENFORCED PROSTITUTION IN SOME ARMPIT OF THE WORLD. ANOTHER INCIDENT WAS AN ATTEMPTED ROBBERY ON A FRIEND OF MINE WHO WAS HIT ON THE BACK OF THE HEAD WITH AN IRON BAR AS HE WAS UNLOADING HIS CAR. RIGHT NOW, I AM ADVISING ALL TRAVELERS, ESPECIALLY FEMALES NOT TO COME TO EGYPT UNTIL A VALID POLICE FORCE IS RE-ESTABLISHED AND LAW AND ORDER IS RETURNED TO THE STREETS. ALSO, BEAR IN MIND THE AMOUNT OF SERIOUS CIVIL UNREST WHICH IS STILL A REGULAR OCCURRENCE AND WHEREBY YOU MIGHT INADVERTENTLY BECOME EMBROILED.IF YOU ARE FEMALE TRAVELING ALONE, PLEASE, PLEASE, DON'T SUCCUMB TO THE CONSTANT STREAM OF BULLSHIT AND LIES THAT YOU WILL BE SUBJECTED TO IF YOU COME HERE FROM EGYPTIAN MALES. SO, IF YOU ARE REMOTELY NAIVE AND INSIST ON COMING, COME WITH A MALE PARTNER OR IN A PARTY. EVEN THEN, YOU WILL BE TARGETED. THEY, THE CON MEN AND SHARKS, ARE JUST WAITING ON EVERY STREET CORNER FOR YOU TO WALK BY AND STRIKE UP A CONVERSATION ON SOME STUPID PRETEXT OR ANOTHER. IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME WHERE TOURISTS ARE LIKELY TO BE FOUND. SO, DON'T COME HERE UNLESS ACCOMPANIED. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR ON THIS POINT?
LET ME, AT OUTSET, INFORM YOU WHAT IS ENTAILED WHEN I HOST SOMEONE. FIRSTLY, I ENSURE THAT YOU COME TO A CLEAN HOME AND THAT THE SPACE THAT I ALLOCATE TO YOU IS ESPECIALLY CLEAN. YOU ARE GIVEN CLEAN TOWELS AND SHEETS WHICH I HAVE TO LAUNDER AND IRON AFTER YOU HAVE LEFT, SPENDING MY MONEY ON ELETRICITY TO WASH AND DRY THE LAUNDRY FOR THE NEXT GUEST. MORE OF MY MONEY IS SPENT ON THE EXTRA ELECTRICITY YOU USE WHEN YOU SWITCH ON LIGHTS OR THE AIR CONS. WHEN YOU LEAVE, I DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN. I ALSO SPEND QUITE A LOT OF MY TIME TELLING GUESTS HOW TO SURVIVE HERE, WHAT TO SEE AND HOW TO GET THERE. ALL IN ALL, QUITE A LOT OF EFFORT GOES INTO HAVING YOU IN MY SPACE. AND, OF COURSE, I GIVE UP MY PRIVACY FOR SOME OF THE TIME. PLEASE APPRECIATE THIS. IF YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE ENTITLED TO MY TIME ATTENTIONS, THEN DON'T COME!
WHEN I DO ALL THESE THINGS FOR GUESTS AND THEN THEY STEAL FROM ME, I GET ROYALLY PISSED OFF. THIS IS A WARNING TO THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE A TENDENCY TO PICK UP THINGS THAT DO NOT BELONG TO YOU, DO NOT REQUEST HOSTING FROM ME. BECAUSE, HAVING HAD THESE UNFORTUNATE OCCURRENCES, I AM NOW EXTREMELY SUSPICIOUS AND WATCHFUL. IF, THEREFORE, I CATCH ANYONE ATTEMPTING TO STEAL, I WARN YOU THAT MY RETRIBUTION WILL BE DIRE. WITHOUT HESITATION, IT WILL INCLUDE CALLING OUT THE POLICE WHO WILL ARREST AND DETAIN YOU. EVENTUALLY, YOU WILL BE CHARGED AND IF CONVICTED SENT TO PRISON OR HEAVILY FINED AND DEPORTED TO YOUR PORT OF DEPARTURE. EITHER WAY, IT MIGHT INTERFERE WITH YOU TRAVEL PLANS TO A SIGNIFICANT DEGREE. I KNOW THAT MANY OF YOU WILL BE APPALLED BY THE FACT THAT SOMEONE THAT OPENS THEIR HOUSE IN GOOD FAITH WOULD BE SO MISUSED BUT I DO NOT PUT THIS WARNING HERE BECAUSE I SUDDENLY BECAME NERVOUS ABOUT HOSTING COMPLETE STRANGERS. I'VE BEEN HOSTING FOR 7 YEARS AND IT IS HERE OUT OF A DIRE NECESSITY FOR ME TO TRY AND PROTECT MYSELF AGAINST THE TINY PERCENTAGE OF YOU WHO ARE NOTHING BUT SCOUNDRELS.
THEN, AFTER ALL THAT I DO FOR YOU, SOME OF YOU FUCKERS ARE TOO LAZY TO TAKE 2 MINUTES OF YOUR TIME TO LEAVE FEEDBACK FOR ME ON MY PROFILE!! I MAKE NO APOLOGIES WHATSOEVER FOR MY PROFANITY. ONE NEW YORK "LADY" WHO FOUND THE TIME TO SEND ME A BUNDLE OF EMAILS WHEN SHE WANTED HOSTING STILL HASN'T FOUND THAT 2 MINUTES EVEN THOUGH I WASTED MORE OF MY TIME SENDING HER AN EMAIL BY WAY OF A REMINDER.
A little about me. I think that I am a totally grounded person with all facets of my life firmly in place, very ambitious, goal oriented, totally focused, non-materialistic, a non-political animal, value friendship highly, value loyalty highly, loath chauvinism, cheats, especially thieves, liars, bullies, procrastinators, people on the make. I'm also not fond of accident prone individuals. Somewhat forthright, I plays 'em the way I sees 'em.
MY FINAL ADVICE IS DON'T COME HERE AT THIS TIME. I WILL SOON BE HEADING OUT FOR GOOD.
To keep growing in my faith and in my awareness of my place in this complex and sometimes bewildering world and to always keep in mind 1 Peter Ch.4 V.9 "Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay." The latter is often difficult to do under some circumstances but I try. To continue to mature musically and as a human being.
HOW I PARTICIPATE IN COUCHSURFING
By hosting which I used to do whenever I was able. The hosting is available to all races and all religions without exception in the belief that we are all God's children, whatever the nature of our respective God(s) and in the hope of a greater global understanding and appreciation of others' points of view. And, to have an informative profile that will help potential visitors to Egypt.
Good occasionally but rarely, bad, extremely bad and indifferent. Right now, I'm totally at odds with Couchsurfing. They are too pig-headed to accept that they can be wrong. The volunteers who respond when you make a justifiable complaint demonstrate immaturity and, in certain cases, arrogance beyond belief and are also toothless (unable to make any sort of decision to bring about a just solution to a problem0. That means the policing of this site is often in the hands of us, the members. My advice is, if you feel that you have a justifiable gripe or complaint, forget trying to get any sort of justice from Couchchsurfing. They simply bury their heads in the sand and hope that the problem will go away. And, you are going to waste an awful lot of your valuable time attempting to solicit their help. Moreover, they were a totally waste of space in respect of my recent theft. In fact, they willfully obstructed the possibility of my apprehending the culprit. Not only that, when I put up negative feedback on the profile of the the thief, they stood by whilst the thief abandoned her old profile and put up a new one to get a clean profile free from negatives. When I messaged them about this and their lack of adequate site security, they could not even be bothered to answer adequately. Frankly, the people who run the site, in my opinion simply do not care whether you get ripped off by another surfer or not. That is why they delegate problem solving to a bunch of wet behind the ears and clueless volunteers and don't get involved even when a serious theft occurs (in my case of around $80,000 of real and intellectual property)or any other major problem. So, be warned, if you use this site, the matter of security rests with you. There is NOBODY connected with CS that is going to help you resolve the situation.
Moving on, Couchsurfers who book my couch and then do not turn up really anger me. Several people have done that since I began hosting. One individual reserved two weeks in my apartment and then e-mailed me the day he should have been arriving to say that he had made other arrangements. Meantime, I had turned down two other CSs, telling them that my couch was booked. This is totally selfish, don't you think? I believe that CSs who do this three times should be banned from the CS site. Be advised that if you book my couch and then do NOT turn up without letting me know why, I will post negative feedback. SO,PLEASE DO NOT BOOK MY COUCH IF YOUR TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS ARE NOT FULLY IN POSITION. BY DOING SO, YOU GREATLY INCONVENIENCE NOT ONLY ME BUT OTHER CSs. Additionally, I need to know your approximate arrival time on the day that you are going to arrive. I have a life and it will not be my intention to stay home to receive someone who has not informed me of their arrival time, that they are not coming or are arriving late. If you give me a flight arrival time and then incur a serious flight delay, please telephone or text me to let me know what is happening. Then, I am not waiting up for you or otherwise being inconvenienced especially if your original arrival time was going to be in the early hours of the morning and I have got up from my bed just to receive you!
YOUR OBLIGATIONS AS A GUEST IN MY HOUSE.
RESPECT MY SPACE AND KEEP YOUR SPACE CLEAN AND TIDY.
IF YOU WANT TO EAT BREAKFAST BEFORE YOU SET OUT FOR YOUR DAY, THEN ENSURE THAT YOU HAVE BOUGHT WHAT YOU NEED. THE BAKERY AND VARIOUS SUPERMARKETS ARE CLOSE TO MY HOUSE SO THIS WILL NOT BE DIFFICULT TO DO!!
DO NOT INVITE STRANGERS INTO MY HOUSE WHILST YOU ARE MY GUEST. THIS IS A VERY HIGH SECURITY RISK. IF YOU DO IT, I WILL TERMINATE YOUR STAY WITH ME IMMEDIATELY. YES, IT HAPPENED! THAT'S WHY THIS ADVISORY IS HERE.
FINALLY, PLEASE DO NOT USE MY TOILETRIES. I DO NOT SUPPLY RAZORS, TOOTHPASTE, DENTAL FLOSS, SHAMPOO, DEODORANT OR WHATEVER UNLESS YOU HAVE LOST YOUR LUGGAGE ON ROUTE. THEN, THAT'S A DIFFERENT STORY. ALL THIS SHOULD BE FAIRLY OBVIOUS, DON'T YOU THINK? APPARENTLY NOT!! THAT'S WHY THESE REQUESTS ARE WRITTEN HERE.
I HAVE EXPERIENCED SOME INCIDENCES OF MINOR THEFT AND ACCIDENTAL DAMAGE TO ITEMS IN MY HOUSE BY CSs. BE ADVISED THAT, IF YOU DAMAGE SOMETHING IN MY HOUSE THROUGH CARELESSNESS, YOU WILL BE ASKED TO PAY FOR IT. I DO NOT THINK THAT THIS IS UNREASONABLE, DO YOU? THESE "ACCIDENTS" HAVE HAPPENED SEVERAL TIMES SO PLEASE BE CAREFUL FOR THE PEACE OF MIND OF BOTH OF US.
COOKING IN MY HOUSE IS NOT ALLOWED EXCEPT UNDER VERY SPECIAL CONDITIONS. DO NOT, THEREFORE,WALK INTO MY KITCHEN AND SIMPLY PICK UP MY PANS AND START COOKING AND FILLING MY HOUSE WITH COOKING SMELLS TO THE DETRIMENT OF ME AND ANY FRIENDS OR STUDENTS WHO MAY COME CALLING. THIS HAS HAPPENED ON TWO OT THREE OCCASIONS AND I DO NOT LIKE IT ESPECIALLY AS THE EXTRA HEAT CREATED IN THE PROCESS ADDS SEVERAL DEGREES TO THE INTERIOR TEMPERATURE IN THE APARTMENT WHICH I DO NOT NEED ESPECIALLY DURING THE HEAT OF EGYPT'S SUMMERS. WATCHING TV IN MY HOUSE WITHOUT PERMISSION IS ALSO A NO NO. ONE CS VISITOR DID NOTHING ELSE BUT WATCH TV THE WHOLE TIME THAT HE WAS HERE AND I FOUND THE CONSTANT DRONE OF THE TELEVISION TO BE EXTREMELY IRRITATING ESPECIALLY AS THIS VISITOR HADN'T EVEN ASKED ME WHETHER IT WOULD BE OKAY TO USE THE SET. IF I AM OUT OF THE HOUSE, HOWEVER, THAT IS A DIFFERENT MATTER. UNDER THAT CIRCUMSTANCE, YOU CAN AMUSE YOURSELF BY WATCHING THE BOX IF THAT IS WHAT YOU WISH TO DO.
ALL THIS IS ABOUT RESPECTING ME AND MY SPACE AND ABOUT GUEST ETIQUETTE. CONSIDER THIS TO BE A TUTORIAL IF YOU WILL ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVEN'T BEEN HOSTED BY SOMEONE LIKE ME WHO IS SENIOR IN YEARS AND WHO EXPECTS COMMON SENSE GUEST ETIQUETTE TO BE STRICTLY ADHERED TO. YES, I HAVE A FEW RULES AND IT'S MY ENTITLEMENT TO HAVE THEM. IF YOU FEEL THAT I AM BEING OVER-ZEALOUS, THEN THAT'S JUST TOO BAD. IF YOU STAY WITH ME, YOU STAY ON MY TERMS OR NOT AT ALL.
NOTE THAT I HAVE EXTRA BRIEFING NOTES FOR FEMALES WHO INTEND COMING TO EGYPT THAT MIGHT BE CONSIDERED PARTICULARLY ALARMIST. THEY CAN BE OBTAINED SIMPLY BY ASKING. THEY WILL BE SENT ONLY TO A PRIVATE EMAIL ADDRESS (NOT THROUGH THE SITE)AFTER I HAVE CHECKED THE VERACITY OF YOUR REQUEST.
NOTE,HOWEVER, THAT IF YOU ARE FEMALE, YOU ARE GOING TO BE TARGETED BY PREDATORY EGYPTIAN MALES WHO WILL WAIT FOR YOUR FIST LOG ON TO THE SITE AFTER YOUR ARRIVAL AND THEN INVITE YOU TO VARIOUS "COUCHSURFING" EVENTS. THESE SO-CALLED EVENTS ARE MERELY A PRETENSE FOR THEM TO INTERACT WITH FOREIGN WOMEN. MY ADVICE IS TO IGNORE ALL SUCH APPROACHES OR COMPLAIN ABOUT THEM IN TO COUCHSURFING. IF THEY RECEIVE ENOUGH COMPLAINTS, THEY MIGHT ACTUALLY TERMINATE THE MEMBERSHIP OF SOME OF THESE PESTS. HOW DO I KNOW ALL THIS? BECAUSE MY FEMALE GUESTS TELL ME ABOUT THE APPROACHES AND ALSO BECAUSE AFTER 20 YEARS HERE AND SIX IN COUCHSURFING, I KNOW THE EGYPTIAN CHARACTER EXTREMELY WELL. MORE ABOUT THIS PHENOMENON IN THE "YOUR OPINION" SECTION BELOW.
Singing, jazz photography, jazz memorabilia collecting, social running (Hash House Harriers), cinema, dancing, the arts, antiques collecting, music, reading, searching out rare jazz recordings, freelance jazz journalism and photography, traveling and learning. I have an immense appetite for pushing more knowledge into my tiny mind.
Most genres of music but especially jazz.
A couple of movies that I like are "Bird" directed by Clint Eastwood, "The English Patient", "Legends of the Fall", "On the Waterfront", "Swing Kids", "Rebel without Cause", "Cry Freedom", "From Here to Eternity", "The Spanish Gardener", "The Barefoot Contessa", "Shane", "Some like it Hot", "Out of Africa", "Last Tango in Paris", "Ascent to the Scaffold" and "The Man with the Golden Arm". But there are just too many others to list them all. But, I only like well directed movies with great acting and a terrific script. I won't even attempt to list music or books.
I have seen the Pyramids (obviously), the Grand Canyon, and the Taj Mahal. I don't think that I have ever done anything truly amazing except spending 22 years of my life in Egypt and 6 years on this site. That takes some doing! And, I was once Ava Gardner's cigarette delivery boy!! Oh, yeah, I rafted the Zambezi, too, at Victoria Falls. I once, foolishly, attempted to sing with Herbie Hancock and, in such august company, completely, blew it!
ON CHRISTMAS DAY 2010, 8 AMERICAN TOURISTS WERE KILLED IN AN HORRENDOUS BUS CRASH. SEVERAL MORE RECEIVED CRIPPLING INJURIES THE SCARS OF WHICH WHICH THEY WILL BEAR FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. WHAT A CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR THEIR FAMILIES AND LOVED ONES! THIS WAS JUST ANOTHER INCIDENT IN A CHAPTER OF SIMILAR ONES THAT OCCUR EVERY DAY ON THE ROADS OF EGYPT. IN THIS DIRECTIVE, I HAD WARNED ABOUT TRAVELING ON EGYPT'S TOURIST BUSES, ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT. THIS WAS A DAYTIME CRASH. THE ACCIDENT STATS FOR NIGHT TIME ACCIDENTS ARE SIGNIFICANTLY WORSE. THE REASONS ARE, QUITE SIMPLY, A FLAGRANT DISREGARD BY DRIVERS FOR WHATEVER DRIVING REGULATIONS EXIST HERE AND THE UNWILLINGNESS OF THE POLICE TO ENFORCE THE REGS THAT DO EXIST. A MAJOR CAUSE OF SERIOUS ACCIDENTS ON THE ROADS HERE IS USING CELL PHONES FOR BOTH RECEIVING AND MAKING CALLS AND TEXTING WHILST DRIVING. JUST A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO I UPLOADED TO MY FACEBBOOK PAGE A PHOTO OF WHAT WAS LEFT OF A CAR THAT HAD DRIVEN RIGHT INTO THE BACK OF A STATIONARY TRUCK WHILST THE DRIVER WAS ON HIS CELL PHONE. HE WAS DECAPITATED. HIS HEAD WAS FOUND ON THE BACK SEAT OF THE WRECK THAT HAD BEEN HIS CAR. THIS COUPLED WITH THE GENERALLY APPALLING STATE OF THE ROADS ADDS UP TO THE MOST EXTREME DANGER FOR TOURISTS WHO RISK THEIR LIVES ON EGYPT'S ROADS. OKAY, YOU ARE A FATALIST, WHATEVER WILL BE, WILL BE AND ALL THAT SORT OF CRAP, SO BE IT. WELL, IF YOU WISH TO END UP DEAD, A QUADRAPLEGIC, OR HORRIBLY DISFIGURED, JUST CONTINUE RIDING THESE BUSES TO SAVE YOUR TIME OR A FEW PENNIES!*********************************************
NOTE THAT THIS SECTION OF MY PROFILE HAS GRADUALLY EXPANDED TO BECOME A MINI-TUTORIAL FOR VISITORS COMING TO A MUSLIM COUNTRY FOR THE FIRST TIME AND TO ADVISE ON THE MANY PROBLEMS THAT YOU MIGHT FACE AS A VISITOR HERE. IF YOU THINK AFTER READING THIS SECTION THAT I AM SOMEWHAT ALARMIST, JUST REMEMBER THAT I HAVE LIVED HERE FOR 23 YEARS SO I SHOULD KNOW AT LEAST A LITTLE OF WHAT THIS COUNTRY IS ABOUT. I HAVE HAD SEVERAL EGYPTIAN NATIONALS WHO HAVE WRITTEN TO ME COMPLAINING ABOUT THE NEGATIVE PICTURE THAT MY PROFILE PAINTS OF THEIR COUNTRY. ON THE OTHER HAND, OTHERS SENT THEIR REGRETS THAT THEIR COUNTRYMEN SEEM UNABLE TO BEHAVE WITH A GREATER DEGREE OF RESPECT AND PROPRIETY TOWARDS THE VISITORS TO THEIR COUNTRY.
YOU SHOULD ALSO KNOW THAT EGYPT IS A NOISY PLACE. PEOPLE SPEAK TO ONE ANOTHER AT TWICE THE DECIBELS THAT YOU ARE PROBABLY USED TO. THEY ALSO SHOUT AND YELL WITHOUT COMPUNCTION, OFTEN INTO THE EARLY HOURS OF THE MORNING. IT'S ALSO VERY DUSTY AND DIRTY. THERE IS TRASH EVERYWHERE DESPITE THE VALIANT EFFORTS OF THE STREET CLEANERS TO KEEP ON TOP OF IT. THE FORMALLY PRISTINE AND BEAUTIFUL DESERTS CLOSE TO CAIRO ARE BEING SYSTEMATICALLY DESPOILED BECAUSE OF TRASH DUMPING AND WITLESS SEARCHING FOR MINERALS.
WHEN ARRIVING HERE, YOU SHOULD THROW OUT ANY WESTERN CONCEPTIONS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE ABOUT BEHAVIORAL NORMS. SIMPLY, THEY DO NOT EXIST HERE. IN ORDER TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCES, YOU SHOULD DISTRUST EVERY LOCAL THAT YOU MEET ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO STRIKE UP A CASUAL CONVERSATION WITH YOU ON THE STREET OR THOSE WHO CONGREGATE AROUND THE PLACES THAT TOURISTS ARE LIKELY TO GO. MANY LOCALS HAVE AN AGENDA THAT INVOLVES TARGETING VISITING FOREIGNERS AND THAT, IF YOU ALLOW THEM TO, WILL LEAVE YOU DIMINISHED IN SOME WAY OR ANOTHER.FEMALES ARE ESPECIALLY TARGETED BECAUSE THEY ARE PERCEIVED AS BEING EASIER TO CON AND BULLY OUT OF MONEY, ESPECIALLY BY TAXI DRIVERS,MANY OF WHOM ARE OUT AND OUT CROOKS. ASSUME, THEREFORE,IF YOU ARE FEMALE THAT YOU WILL BE TARGETED BY MALE PREDATORS AS SOON AS YOU ARRIVE AT CAIRO AIRPORT AND DURING THE REST OF YOUR STAY IN EGYPT.
ADVISORY ON THE RAPIDLY INCREASING CRIME RATE.
IN CASE YOU DID NOT REALIZE, THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF POVERTY AND A BURGEONING DRUG CULTURE HERE, BOTH OF WHICH BREED DESPERATION AND CRIME. A CASE THAT I HEARD OF A WHILE BACK CONCERNED A VERY HUMBLE GUY, A BAWAB (CARETAKER) OF A BLOCK OF FLATS) WHO HAD A PUNCTURE WHILST DRIVING HIS CAR. WHEN HE WAS CHANGING HIS WHEEL, THREE GUYS STOPPED AND OFFERED ASSISTANCE WHICH HE ACCEPTED. AFTERWARDS, THEY ASKED IF HE WOULD GIVE THEM A LIFE SOMEWHERE WHICH HE AGREED TO DO. WHEN THEY GOT IN THE CAR, THEY PULLED KNIVES AND STABBED HIM SEVEN TIMES IN THE CHEST, BACK, LEG AND HEAD AND THEN ROBBED HIM. FORTUNATELY, HE SURVIVED BUT IT WAS A CLOSE CALL. THE PERPETRATORS HAVE NOT BEEN APPREHENDED. A LOT OF CRIME IS OPPORTUNISTIC SO THAT MEANS THAT YOU, AS A TOURIST SHOULD STAY AWAY FROM THE BALADI (POORER) PARTS OF TOWN WHERE THERE ARE NO TOURISTS ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT. IF THIEVES ARE GOING TO ATTACK A HUMBLE CARETAKER, THEN YOU, AS A TOURIST, REPRESENT A MUCH JUICIER TARGET SO STAY, WHENEVER YOU CAN, ON THE WELL-TRODDEN TOURIST BEAT. THIS WILL NOT GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL NOT BECOME A VICTIM BUT WILL REDUCE THE LIKLIHOOD SOMEWHAT. VIOLENT BAG-SNATCHING HAS ALSO BECOME COMMONPLACE, OFTEN INJURING THE VICTIM DURING THE ATTACK. SO, CARRY MINIMUM CASH WITH YOU WHILST YOU ARE OUT AND ABOUT IN THE CITY AND LEAVE YOUR PASSPORT SAFELY WITH YOUR HOST. USE MONEY BELTS, BUM-BAGS AND OTHER SECURE WAYS TO CARRY MOBILE PHONES AND CAMERAS. HAVE NOTHING HANGING OVER YOUR SHOULDERS THAT MIGHT BE SNATCHABLE AND DO NOT TALK TO STRANGERS WHO TRY TO STRIKE UP A CONVERSATION ON THE FLIMSIEST OF EXCUSES. THE THIEVES KNOW WHERE THE TOURISTS ARE AND IT TAKES JUST SECONDS TO DEPRIVE YOU OF YOUR BELONGINGS, IN THE PROCESS RUINING YOUR HOLIDAY.
A WORD ON ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALIST TERRORISM. IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT THE WISDOM IN COMING HERE AND THE LIKLIHOOD OF BEING INVOLVED IN A TERRORIST INCIDENT, I WOULD ADVISE THAT THE CHANCE IS MINIMAL. BUT, THE PATTERN OF PAST TERRORIST INCIDENTS DEMONSTRATES THAT TERRORISTS ARE STILL AT WORK HERE AND FROM TIME TO TIME WILL STRIKE. SINCE THE REMOVAL OF THE MORSI GOVERNMENT THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERABLY INCREASED TERRORIST INCIDENTS ON THE PART OF MEMBERS OF THE NOW BANNDED MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD. IN THE PAST, THESE INCIDENTS HAVE TAKEN PLACE BOTH IN THE RED SEA RESORT DESTINATIONS, AT LUXOR AND SEVERAL HERE IN CAIRO. THE TYPES OF INCIDENTS HAVE VARIED ENORMOUSLY FROM WALK-BY SHOOTINGS, RANDOM BOMBINGS OF HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS, THE MUREDRS OF CHRISTIANS, ATTACKS ON CHRISTIAN PROPERTY AND VICIOUS ATTACKS ON TOURIST BUSES OR HOTELS.
LEAVING ASIDE TERRORISM, THE OFFICIAL FIGURES FOR ROAD DEATHS FROM TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS IN EGYPT ARE 6,000 PEOPLE A YEAR! THE REAL TOTAL IS PROBABLY DOUBLE THAT SO CONSIDER THOSE STATISTICS BEFORE YOU MAKE A DECISION ABOUT EXPOSING YOURSELF TO DANGER ON THE ROADS! THIS WOULD PARTICULARLY MEAN NOT TRAVELING ON THE ROADS AT NIGHT BY OVERNIGHT BUSES. THE SINAI IS A NO-GO AREA AT THE MOMENT.
EGYPTIAN DRIVING IS APPALLING ESPECIALLY BY THE WOMEN.
THEY HAVE LIMITED PERIPHERAL VISION BECAUSE OF THEIR WEARING OF THE HIJAB WHICH 8O% OR SO OF THEM ARE WEARING. ALL EGYPTIAN DRIVERS ROUTINELY USE THEIR MOBILE PHONES FOR RECEIVING AND MAKING CALLS AND TEXTING ALLOWING THEIR FOCUS TO NOT FULLY ON THE PREVAILING ROAD CONDITIONS. THE ROADS ARE DEATH TRAPS ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT SO STAY OFF THEM AFTER DARK.
I AM ADVISING WOMEN TRAVELING ALONE TO CONSIDER VERY CAREFULLY BEFORE COMING TO THIS COUNTRY!! IF YOU CHOOSE TO IGNORE THIS ADVISORY AND STILL COME, THEN MAKE A DETERMINATION TO WIN AGAINST ALL THE THIEVES AND VAGABONDS WHO WILL BE OUT TO BRING TO FRUITION THEIR OWN WELL-PLANNED AND CLEVER AGENDAS.
THESE ARE THE OFFICIAL STATISTICS OF FEMALE ABUSE HERE IN EGYPT. 85% OF ALL EGYPTIAN WOMEN HAVE BEEN ABUSED BY EGYPTIAN MALES AT SOME TIME IN THEIR LIFE EITHER PHYSICALLY OR VERBALLY!! THERE ARE NO STATISTICS FOR FOREIGN WOMAN VISITING HERE BUT THEY WOULD BE SIMILAR OR HIGHER. 70% OF THE WOMAN WHO HAVE BEEN ABUSED ARE VEILED WOMEN ATTEMPTING TO DISCOURAGE SUCH ABUSE BY WEARING THE VEIL OR HIJAB. 66% OF EGYPTIAN MALES ADMIT TO HAVING ABUSED WOMEN!! THESE STATS HAVE NOT BEEN INVENTED BY ME THEY ARE FROM WOMEN'S RIGHTS ORGANISATUIONS BASED HERE. WOMEN ARE HAVING TO TAKE MARTIAL ARTS CLASSES IN ORDER TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST THIS FLAGRANT ABUSE. EVEN SCHOOL KIDS OF 13 AND 14 YEARS OF AGE AND OF BOTH SEXES ARE INVOLVED. IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE ENOUGH STREET SMARTS TO STAY OUT OF TROUBLE AND INSIST ON COMING, YOU WILL BE THE TARGET FOR EVERY DISREPUTABLE MALE HERE, IN AND OUT OF COUCHSURFING. YES,I STRESS WITHIN COUCHSURFING BECAUSE, LIKE INDIA, MANY MALES WITH DUBIOUS AGENDAS HAVE JUMPED ABOARD COUCHSURFING! A WHILE BACK, A FEMALE CS WHO HIRED SOMEONE TO DRIVE HER AROUND FOUND THAT, MUCH TO HER CHAGRIN, SHE WAS WITH HABITUAL DRUG USERS. THEY TRIED TO GET HER TO CARRY DRUGS FOR THEM BUT SHE REFUSED TO DO THAT. HAD SHE BEEN CAUGHT WITH EVEN A TRACE OF DRUGS IN HER LUGGAGE, SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN SENT TO PRISON FOR 15 YEARS AT LEAST. I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT THE PRISONS HERE ARE NOT VERY PLEASANT. AS IT WAS, SHE WAS STILL CONNED INTO A PSEUDO-MARRIAGE WHICH COST HER MONEY TO ESCAPE FROM. ALMOST UNBELIEVABLE, EH? IF YOU ARE REMOTELY NAIVE ENOUGH TO GIVE CREDENCE TO ALL THE PLAUSIBLE LIES THAT THE GUYS HERE ARE PAST MASTERS AT SPEWING OUT, THEN YOU RISK LOSING A LOT MORE THAN MONEY. YOU MAY LOOSE YOUR LIFE OR YOUR FREEDOM. IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT? NO! THEN STAY AWAY OR COME PREPARED TO RESIST THESE PARIAHS WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH OF MIND AND BODY.
TWO OTHER WARNINGS! TELEPHONE STALKING IS ANOTHER PROBLEM HERE. AS A VISITOR IT IS UNLIKELY THAT YOU WILL EXPERIENCE IT. BUT, IF YOU ARE FEMALE, DO NOT GIVE YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER TO MALES THAT YOU MIGHT MEET CASUALLY IF YOU WANT TO MINIMIZE THE LIKLIHOOD OF THIS HAPPENING.
23% OF ALL EGYPTIAN FEMALES HAVE EXPERIENCE SEXUALLY EXPLICIT TELEPHONE STALKING. SO, DO BE CAREFUL WHILST YOU ARE HERE.
NOTE THAT THE TREND IN DRESS FOR WOMEN OVER THE LAST TEN YEARS OR SO HAS BECOME INCREASINGLY ISLAMIC WITH, NOW, PROBABLY 90% OF WOMEN WEARING THE VEIL OR HIJAB (HEAD SCARF COVERING THEIR HAIR) EVEN SOME CHRISTIAN WOMEN. ACCORDINGLY, IF YOU DRESS CONSERVATIVELY REVEALING AS LITTLE FLESH AS POSSIBLE, THIS WILL HELP PROTECT YOU A LITTLE FROM MALE ABUSE. THE BEST WAY TO AVOID PROBLEMS IS NOT TO SPEAK TO ANY STRANGERS WHO ATTEMPT TO STRIKE UP A CONVERSATION WITH YOU. IGNORE THEIR SMILES. THEY SIMPLY ARE A COVER FOR WHATEVER THEIR INGENIOUS MINDS ARE PLANNING FOR YOU. TELL THEM TO "IMSHI" (GO AWAY). YELL IT AT THEM WHEN THEY PERSIST IN THEIR ATTENTIONS. USING THE "IMSHI" WORD TO WARD OFF THE PESTS IS THE BEST ADVICE THAT I AM ABLE TO GIVE YOU. LATTERLY, THERE HAS BEEN A MASSIVE INCREASE IN THE SALES OF SPYING EQUIPMENT. THIS INCLUDES BINOCULARS, EAVESDROPPING DEVICES AND MINATURE VIDEO CAMERAS. YOU ARE UNLIKELY, AS A VISITOR, TO SUFFER FROM THIS TYPE OF INVASION OF YOUR PRIVACY BUT I MENTION IT HERE AS ANOTHER INDICATION OF THE MIND-SET THAT EXISTS HERE AND THE THINKING PROCESSES THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO CONTEND WITH WHEN TRYING TO PEACEFULLY ENJOY VISITING TOURIST DESTINATIONS. IN FACT, THROW OUT ANY IDEAS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE ABOUT PEACEFULLY ENJOYING THIS COUNTRY.
Many other CSs have been conned out of lots of money by the unscrupulous people who prey upon unsuspecting tourists who come here. One of my CS friends who has stayed with me on two occasions describes the situation here as being a "culture of deceit". It's an extremely apt description, I think. With the increasing cost of food here and the huge drop in mubers of tourists coming, the frequency and liklihood of being conned or bullied out of your money has increased alarmingly. Recently, one Couchsurfer (male) was conned in three different ways in a day despite my warnings. ALL the hotels here are in cahoots with taxi drivers who routinely take people to the wrong hotels, perfume shops, camel and horse stables, papyrus shops and anywhere else that can they can earn some bakshish (tips) from the business owners. If you succumb to their pressure and believe their lies, you will passed around like merchandise to the next conman (or woman) waiting in line to get more money from you. And, you will waste hours of your valuable time and lots of your money. Conning visitors is a sport here. Couchsurfing is being used as a medium by a few unscrupulous people to futher their own agendas so exercise extreme caution especially if you are female. Are you going to be a victim or are you going to fight back after reading the warnings that I have included in this section of my profile? Remember this word in Arabic. If one of the males here puts his grubby hands on you, simply hit him with all the force that you can muster, scream at him and threaten him. Then, he might slink away or you might even generate a little sympathy from anyone standing nearby. If you think that I am being over-zealous in my warning, I can assure you that I am understating the dangers rather than the other way around. I should know. I have lived here for 23 years.
FURTHER WARNINGS. Do NOT take any of the taxis that wait outside hotels. The drivers are ALL crooks. Flag down a taxi in the street by shouting "TAX". But, assume all taxi drivers are crooks and until you have received advice from me or someone else, be very careful with your dealings with taxi drivers. One thing that you can do in the white or yellow cabs is to make sure that the driver zeros the meter before you begin your trip. In the black and white cabs, for a short journey, the fair is approximately 1.25 L.E. per five minutes in the cab. Get out of the cab at the end of the ride and pay the driver through the window and then walk away. Bullying of women (and males) by the cab drivers to get more money out of you is a commonplace occurrence and some drivers have developed this into a fine art. They will whine, yell and threaten you, jump out of their cab waving in mock protest to prise more cash out of you. They will even resort to recruiting support from other locals who are nearby. A high percentage of the taxi drivers are out and out thieves and crooks so please heed these warnings if you want to have a remotely reasonable experience in this country. For longer rides, negotiate the fare and agree it BEFORE you get in the cab. NEVER get in a cab for a longer journey without having previously agreed the fair even if you are using one of the white taxis. Do NOT give any bakshish (tips) when you have negotiated the fare. However, do NOT try and negotiate short taxi rides. This marks you as a tourist and immediately tells them that you are green about the Cairo charging system. Ensure that in the white cabs, the meter is showing L.E.2.50 when you begin your journey. Do NOT believe any story that a white cab driver will tell you about his meter not working. If he tries that one on, just get out of his cab and find another one.
Do not book any tours to the sights through your hotel. They ( the hoteliers )are earning bakshish from whomsoever they put you with. Go to a reputable travel agent of which there are plenty on the streets of Cairo. Do NOT believe the false smiles that you find everywhere.
THE TOURIST CON MEN HERE ARE THE GREATEST LIARS IN THE WORLD. They turn their smiles on to disarm you and if they get away with relieving you of your money, they will be bragging about it to their friends later that same day. If you want advice before you come, please ask me. The best guide books on Egypt do not give you the sufficient information to protect you against the hordes of scavengers that infest the tourist sites here. Women, too, should remember that this is a Muslim country and you should dress conservatively. That means long-sleeved tops, NO shorts, conservative length skirts and no exposed midriffs If you choose to ignore this advice, you will get more than your fair share of male pests touching you and making your stay here unbearable. Moreover, you will give credence to commonly held belief here that all Western woman have very low morals. Your dressing inappropriately reaffirms that belief in the Muslim mind. If you are on the receiving end of this gross male misbehavior whilst here, you have to deal with it in extreme ways. If you allow males any degree of compliance, you are encouraging the perpetrators to keep doing it! Even, after the warnings in this profile, two CSs arrived at my house having paid 3 times the normal taxi fare from the airport to my house!! These were experienced male travelers. REMEMBER the word "IMSHI". It is the most valuable word in Arabic that you will need here. And, if you are reading this and have concerns please contact me. Remember poverty is dire here and murders are frequent, driven by arguments over petty sums of money. If you venture off the tourist beat, you could easily be killed for what you are carrying, money, camara, watch, Ipod, etc. These represent wealth to some of the lower classes here and if drugs are involved, whatever morality might have existed flies out of the window. You will be in a Muslim country and, as a foreigner, will be perceived as an infidel and are therefore fair game. I HOPE THAT MY WARNINGS ARE GIVEN DUE WEIGHT AND STAY OUT OF TROUBLE. REMEMBER, THE CS ORGANIZATION WILL NOT STEP IN IF YOU ENCOUNTER ANY PROBLEMS WITH EGYPTIAN CSs.
If you decide to go off-roading through the desert, only go with an experienced guide. Land mines are everywhere from the second world war and various Israeli-Egyptian ones. So, don't risk being shipped home in a coffin. If you go to areas such as the Fayoum, you will be picked up on route by a police escort. The implications are obvious, are they not, you are entering a dangerous area! There are several other no-go areas here. Do your homework and stay on the well-trodden tourist paths.
Some other things that you should know are that if you book a tour that takes in the Egyptian museum in Cairo, you are likely to find the place so crowded that you cannot enjoy the exhibits especially during high season, say, October through to May (NOT AT THE MOMENT). Many of the exhibits are not even labeled properly. Also, know that the downtown area of Cairo is often highly polluted with smog which can be injurious to your health! Additionally, be aware that the traffic accident statistics here are the worst in the world. Do NOT, whatever you do, travel at night between cities. The roads are death traps. And, be aware that the tourist bus drivers have no rules governing the hours that they drive so that means they often drive to the point of exhaustion to earn extra money and can fall asleep at the wheel. Tourist bus drivers are cowboys and crashes occur regularly with a high loss of life and crippling injuries as a result. There was one crash in which the bus turned over and caught fire. Many tourists were burned to death or severely injured. But, the most shocking part of this incident was that another bus stopped at the crash site and several passengers got off, not to offer assistance but to loot the bodies of the dead and injured. In the week commencing 5th July 2009, another night bus crash occurred killing 12 Serbs and seriously injuring many others. SO, DO NOT TAKE THE NIGHT BUSES. Another warning!! Try to avoid going to hospital here even for relatively minor injuries. Several deaths after occurred recently after very minor procedures in one of the local private hospitals. All operating theatres in that hospital have been closed but that does not help the families of those who died. So, try NOT to get injured whilst you are here. Carry medical insurance BUT do not use it for payment in any hospitals or medical facilities here. If you need minor medical care, I can advise. For major medical help, you should fly out of the country if you are able. I have many friends working in the medical care industry here and I could write a book on the numerous occasions of gross medical malpractice that occur here on a regular basis. Do not become another statistic because you thought that you would get high quality medical care here. You won't!
So, practice common sense if you come. Do not try to cram in every single tourist site in the country by taking overnight, death trap bus rides just to say that you saw that or saw the other. Better to see fewer sites and stay whole or alive. Ask yourself the question, "Do I really want to play Russian roulette on the roads of Egypt?" NOTE:- Yet another train crash occurred recently, 25th October '09. A train ploughed into another that was stationary in Gizah (Gizah is where the station is sited for trains to Luxor and Aswan). Several people were killed, many more seriously injured. If you come here, exercise the utmost caution in everything that you do especially with your personal hygiene and food consumption. Don't become yet another accident statistic. DO NOT EAT STREET FOOD.
After reading my profile, I was contacted by a female CS who lives here and informed that I had totally UNDERSTATED the situation in respect of the abuse of women by Egyptian men. This points up just how serious that particular problem is in this country.
THE ALMOST FINAL NOTE. A male CS who came here but who was hosted by another CS because I had given hosting priority to someone else, sent me a farewell note saying that he wished he had paid more attention to the warning on my profile. As it turned out, he also had been conned out of lots of money.
WARNING TO HOMOSEXUALS. HOMOSEXUALITY IS ILLEGAL HERE. THEY ARE ROUTINELY SENT TO PRISON. YOU WOULD NOT BE SENT TO PRISON, SIMPLY DEPORTED TO YOUR PORT OF DEPARTURE WHICH MIGHT BE INCONVENIENT IF YOU PLANNED A MULTI-COUNTRY TOUR. DEPORTATION MEANS EMBARRASSMENT TOO. YOUR PASSPORT IS TAKEN FROM YOU AND HANDED TO THE FLIGHT CREW OF THE PLANE THAT THE AUTHORITIES PUT YOU ON. THEY ARE ORDERED NOT TO GIVE IT TO YOU UNTIL YOU ARRIVE AT YOUR DESTINATION.
NOTE ALSO THAT COUCHSURFING,AS AN ORGANIZATION, ARE NOT TOO INTERESTED IN YOUR PROBLEMS. I HAVE ADVISED CS TO SIGNIFICANTLY BEEF UP THE PROCESS OF VETTING EGYPTIAN MEMBERS AND THOSE FROM SOME OTHER ARAB COUNTRIES, BUT THEY ARE SIMPLY NOT INTERESTED. THEY PLACE THE ONUS OF SAFETY FIRMLY ON THE SHOULDERS OF EACH MEMBER.
"GOING TO THE PYRAMIDS". THIS IS WHERE THE CROOKS AND LIARS ARE THE THICKEST ON THE GROUND. YOU WILL NEED A LOT OF RESOLVE NOT TO SUCCUMB TO THE PRESSURE FROM THE CROOKS AND CON MEN THAT ABOUND AT THIS POPULAR TOURIST SITE. THE LATEST TRICK IS, IF YOU GO TO NAZRI EL SAMMAN TO RIDE A HORSE FROM ONE OF THE STABLES, IS FOR THE CON MEN TO TRY AND JUMP INTO YOUR CAB AS YOU ARE NEARING YOUR DESTINATION! YES, ACTUALLY JUMP INTO YOUR FREAKING TAXI WITH YOU SO THAT THEY CAN GET YOUR BUSINESS. THE ANSWER TO THIS IS TO SLAM THE CAB DOOR ON THEM AND, HOPEFULLY, CRUSH THEIR GREEDY, GRABBING FINGERS IN THE DOOR AS YOU DO SO. AND, DO NOT FORGET THE WORD "IMSHI". THIS IS THE MOST VALUABLE WORD IN ARABIC THAT YOU WILL EVER NEED IN THIS COUNTRY. USING IT WILL SAVE YOU HUNDREDS OF EGYPTIAN POUNDS AND A LOT OF HASSLE. IMPRINT IT ON YOU BRAIN BEFORE YOU GET HERE IF YOU ARE STILL DETERMINED TO COME TO THIS PLACE. NOTE THAT A FAIR PRICE FOR HAVING A HALF HOUR'S RIDE ON A CAMEL IS L.E. 20.00 NOT EUROS 50.00 0R 100. Also be advised that there is an enormous amount of dust in the air here, especially in Cairo during the Khamasin season. If you do not wear spectacles, you should seriously think about buying some cheap, plain glass ones to protect your eyes from the dust whilst you are here. Without being overly alarmist, you can pick up eye infections from this dust. One female friend caught such an infection and lost the sight in one eye because of it. The sight in her remaining eye was only saved by a minor miracle but, even in that remaining eye she had impaired vision. So, better safe than sorry is the best advice that I can give you.
Whilst here, do not eat street food. You can become very ill. Do not eat lettuce. You could contract amoebic dysentry. Wash or peel all fruit and vegetables thoroughly.
Please note that I keep four Egyptian travel books here for your consultation and various maps of Cairo. But, I am not the ultimate Egypt travel guru in respect of what you should or should not see whilst you are here. You should have an Egyptian itinerary planned before you get here rather than just stepping of a plane and winging it. What I will tell you is that you can do Luxor in a day. If you want to get into the various oases and into the black or white deserts, you should touch base with some of the other CSs who are in town after you arrive and try to arrange to jointly book an experienced off-road driver and transport to defray the cost.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT CAIRO.
Whilst hospitals cannot be trusted here, dentists, on the other hand, do exceptionally good work. If you need dentistry, consider planning to have it done here. The professor of dentistry at Cairo University has a practice on my street. His work is excellent and cheap though he does not do extractions or orthodontics. Americans, especially, can save thousands of dollars. If you wear spectacles (glasses), you can save money By buying those here too. A 24 hours or 48 hours turn-around for getting them made is standard. Laser surgery to correct eye problems is also very good here and cheap compared with many countries in North America and Europe.
OKAY, I HAVE GIVEN YOU AS MANY WARNINGS AS I CAN ABOUT WHAT TO EXPECT HERE. IF YOU STILL ARE INTENT ON COMING, AS I AM SURE MANY OF YOU WILL BE, THEN TAKE THE UTMOST CARE WHILST YOU ARE HERE. If you read through the whole of my marathon tutorial, congratulations. You win a prize for determination! In case you are wondering why it is so long, it is because I do not want you on my conscience. And, the selfish reason is I do not want to have to keep repeating this stuff verbally to every CS that comes to stay with me.
The last piece of advice. If I host you, I clean your room before you arrive and after you leave, I do your washing for you, spend my valuable time telling you all that you need to know to prevent you getting ripped off by the taxi drivers, lend you maps and guidebooks and generally serve as the fount of all knowledge so that your stay in Cairo is as pleasant and as trouble free as possible, the least that you can do for me is leave feedback, good, bad or indifferent.
STAYING HEALTHY IN CAIRO.
FOR YOUR OWN ENJOYMENT DURING YOUR STAY, PRACTICE EXTREME HYGIENE. DO NOT EAT STREET FOOD EVEN THOUGH THE LOCALS MAY BE EATING IT. YOU HAVEN'T BUILT UP THE RESISTANCE TO THE LOCAL BUGS. NEITHER SHOULD YOU DRINK FROM THE JUICE BARS THAT ARE PREVALENT HERE. YOU CAN CATCH VIRULENT STOMACH AND BOWEL INFECTIONS WHICH WILL MAKE YOU VERY ILL. AMOEBIC DYSENTERY IS VERY UNPLEASANT AND CAN HOSPITALIZE YOU. ALSO, IF NOT TREATED THE AMOEBA CAN MIGRATE TO THE LIVER AND CAUSE PERMANENT DAMAGE. AND, THAT IS JUST ONE OF SEVERAL MICRO-ORGANISMS THAT YOU CAN PICK UP HERE. MOREOVER, ONCE INFECTED, YOU CAN EASILY INFECT ME AND OTHER PEOPLE THAT YOU COME INTO CONTACT WITH.
AS I WRITE THIS, I AM SUFFERING FROM AN INFECTION PICKED UP FROM A CS. AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE, I'M NOT VERY HAPPY ABOUT THAT!!! WHEN YOU STAY UNDER MY ROOF, I WILL ADVISE YOU ABOUT WHAT AND WHERE TO EAT. DO TAKE MY ADVICE 'COS I KNOW BETTER THAN YOU DO NO MATTER HOW WIDELY TRAVELED AND STREET SMART YOU THINK YOU ARE!! WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT EAT LETTUCE EVEN IT IT SHREDDED AND PUT IN A SANDWICH. THIS IS THE PRIME SOURCE OF AMOEBIC INFECTIONS. STAY HEALTHY AND KEEP ME HEALTHY TOO.
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