"Welcome to Egypt"
"Hey, thanks!" I replied.
"Where you from?"
Germany? Australia? France?
"No, no, I said the US, not guess."
"Americans! Great country, #1!" He joyfully exclaimed. "Want taxi? Maybe you buy something in my shop? Tour? Camel ride? Come, have a look in my shop, very cheap, free gift."
"No, thank you though."
"Ok, maybe later, have good day."
1.38 seconds later
"Welcome to Egypt!"
"Thank you..." I reply cautiously.
"No, no, not tour guide. I'm engineer. You going to the museum? It's busy now, maybe you look at this 'art museum' then go, too many kids now"
"Thanks, but we aren't interested."
"Welcome to Egypt!"
This inscription is Hapshepsut, take picture. Put this on your head. Take picture. Take my picture. Baksheesh?" (tip in Arabic).
The air is hot, but nothing compared to what it will be soon. 100 degrees now, but in a months time it will be 120+. The air is thick with dust and smog and the streets are flooded with horns honking. You could cut the air into thick slices and pack it home as a souvenir if the 9 billion other trinkets don't suit your needs. The streets are crowded with locals flowing to and from, but there is a recognizable gap in the tourist department. That being, there are hardly any tourists. Egypt used to be different. In 2010 tourism was booming, all areas were expanding, and brick buildings were being stacked left and right. The official rate for the Egyptian pound was 10 L.E. per $1 officially and on the black market it was more like 17 l.e. per 1 dollar. At the Pyramids of Giza, every camel had a tourist on its back, and prices were set and controlled by the government at most historical/archaeological sites. Then it happened.
"The revolution." Mass protests were organized on the 25th of January 2011, calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Although times were okay during his 18 year Presidency, Mubarak was seen as one of the most corrupt politicians in history. Some figures state that his families wealth may have been somewhere between 40-70 billion from military contracts. BILLION! Anyways after a couple of weeks of protests and violent clashes between pro-anti Mubarak parties (anyone else notice a resemblance to home?), Mubarak announced his resignation. Muslim brotherhood comes to power, then two years later that leader is over thrown. Protests. Chaos. Government dismisses the official rate and floats the currency hoping to bring it back. This actually destroys the black market for money, but Egyptians woke up with half of the money they had the day before. The bricks stopped stacking. Uncertainty and violence kept the tourists at bay, and everyday life in Egypt changed almost overnight.
Recent movement policies have made it much safer to travel here, but let me tell you the desparate hawkers are still there, and you look more like money than a human to them. It's not that they will rob you, but they will certainly do anything they can to get you to buy something. Imagine 100 stores, with 100 employees and only 10 tourists. Buckle up or become anti-social. Either way Egypt is amazing. I mean, who doesn't want to see the pyramids and float down the Nile river? At the moment, Egypt is cheap! Now is a great time to travel here for a major discount. On the cheap, Jazmin and I paid anywhere from 4-8$ per person for a private room in any city we visited. I would actually suggest spending a bit more because the dollars go a long way; you could also spend a couple hundred dollars per night if that's more your fancy. A two liter bottle of water costs .33¢, a ho-ho is .12¢ and a standard American breakfast with coffee is about $1.50-$2.50. One falafel sandwich, a plate of fries and a coke will set you back a whole dollar. You get the point? These are the prices we paid while exploring Egypt. We asked locals for tips, read reviews and sometimes just went for what was closest.
At the end of the trip we had visited the pyramids of Giza, Sakkara, and Dashur. Gawked at the royal mummies in the Egypt Museum. Traveled by the local train from Cairo the Aswan. Slept on a felucca on the Nile river. Explored the temples of Luxor and the tombs in the valley of the kings. Floated around in a hot air ballon to see it all from the sky and took a long bus ride from Luxor to Dahab. Jazmin got scuba certified and we dove for a week in the Red Sea. 3 weeks, $800-ish later (diving being the most expensive part) and we are off to Greece.
Overwhelming? Yes. Worth it? Most definitely. Not up to it? Enjoy these photos and drop a like or comment below. Feel free to share with friends and if you're feeling giving you can always jump over to the 'interact' page and send a dollar to help me keep this blog on the road! You guys rock!
Much love and stay wild!
-Joe & Jaz
p.s. here is a little video I put together showing you the sights and sounds of travel. Hope you enjoy.