Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Setting Sail on the Nile at Luxor

While at Luxor Nicholas and I had the pleasure of taking an hour ride on a flouka down the Nile!!! Our boat's captain was a hilirous man quoting Shakepeare to singing old Bettle songs like Yesterday,lol Sailing down the Nile was an unforgettable experience, it felt almost like we were going out to sea. Luxor's sailing area differs greatly from Cario's in that it is much more tranquil and doesn't have all the flashy boat with lights and music playing, but instead has an old fashion charm of days gone by. The trip for the two of us was amazingly cheap, only 50 pounds ($10).

Learning the Value of the Word La’a

Out of all the words I’ve learned in the Arabic language, the one I personally believe is the most valuable is the word la’a, which means no. The streets of Egypt require a lot of street smarts because what feels like around every corner there’s a person trying to swindle someone out of their money, especially white Americans. One tactic used is placing whatever item they want to sell you onto your lap or in your hands, and then refuse to take it back and demand money for what they’ve given you. It’s quite sneaky actually you could be simply resting on a curb and they plop something onto your lap from behind, and once it’s in your possession it’s very hard to give it back and not have to pay for it.

Another tactic is the following technique in which they refuse to listen to your la’a and continue to follow you around, in which they continually pester you until you give in or out last them. Nicholas encountered this while we were at the pyramids. A camel driver started following Nic around only minutes after our arrival there. He followed us everywhere, while we were exploring and even taking pictures. It was only when we told him that we’d find him later if we wanted to ride did he leave, but it took about 20 minutes or so to get rid of him, lol.

One of the most humorous tactics for swindling people out of the money is trapping the tourist in precarious places they can not escape unless they pay a good sum of money. One example of this is getting stuck on a camel. The driver will come up to you and let you pet their camel, then next thing you know he’s wrapping a scarf around your head and trying to get you on the camel for a free 5min ride. What they leave out is yes it’s free to get on the camel, but not free to get off! I was almost entrapped into this one but my protective boyfriend saved me from the sneaking camel driver as he was wrapping a scarf around my head and trying to force me on the camel. Taxi drivers do the same tactic as well, the best way we’ve discovered is pay the driver after everyone is out of the car so he won’t drive off with anyone or refuse to let you out when you pay them.

Yet another technique is playing the game of someone nice willing to take a picture for you with your camera, but to get back your camera a person could end up paying a 100 pounds to get it back. One of my follow classmates had this happen to him at the pyramids and ended up paying 200 pounds (that’s $40)!!! Nic experienced this as well but with his harmonica. He was asking directions looked over to where the security guard pointed and his harmonica was missing from his hand and had to pay the man to get it back.

Out of all my experiences so far here the most skillful attempt to swindling me out of my money happened during orientation week, in which some of my classmates weren’t able to escape having to pay $80 each. My group was walking around trying to find our way back to Agouza from Sadat after exploring the metro system when a young man approached us and said he could guide us to the 5th of Oct bridge. But instead of leading us directing to the bridge he had us stop at a little corner shop to give us his card to contact him if we ever needed him again (a card that we never actually received). Once in the shop the man’s “brother” had us sit down for some welcome tea and look at the painted papyrus “he made himself”, when in actuality it was screen painted not hand painted as he was trying to convince us of that it took him days to weeks to do each on in his shop, lol. The salesman had quite an elaborate story about tomorrow his sister was getting married and that he wanted to give each of us a painting as a gift. We kept saying we had no money to give him, but he kept insisting it was a gift. Next thing we know a papyrus painting was picked out for each of us and had our names painted in hieroglyphs and Arabic on them. When it was time for us to go, the man rolled our “artwork” up, handed us them and then demanded we pay for the supplies it takes to make them, 100 pounds each!!! Thankful one of the guys in my group wouldn’t stand for this trickery, and said were not paying we told you from the beginning we had no money for you. Later on when visiting other tourist places like the Cairo museum we saw the same paintings for only $1 to $5, lol. Needless to say everyday is a new adventure here, whether it is crossing major highways or handling skillful entrepreneurs, one must always be at the top of their game.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Great Exploration of Gaza’s Pyramids

Jan. 22, 2009

Today we ventured out of Cairo to Gaza to see the famous pyramids and Sphinx. I’ve dreamed of this day since I was a child ever since I first saw them in a National Geographic. I remember just staring at pictures of them in awe and wonder. As the years past I became more and more enamored by this wonders of the world, I read so many books and watched so many documentaries about them hoping to someday see them with my own eyes. Finally, after years of longing my eyes at last looked upon the sere magnitude of these ancient wonders of the world. I felt as I did as a child full of wonder once again. The pyramids were everything I imagined and more. Not only was I able to see them, I climbed on the outside of one, and even went inside the other. It was quite an experience to squeeze myself through the narrow tunnels into the pyramid to the burial chamber of the pharaoh. The pharaoh himself was no longer there but the idea of just being inside the pyramid was thrilling enough. Along the wall was written when the tomb was uncovered in 1818. After exploring inside the pyramid my group ventured out into the surrounding area including the dessert to see all the pyramids and eventually wander over to the Sphinx. The Sphinx looked almost majestic perched alongside the hillside. After exploring there Nic (my boyfriend) and I decided to take a ride on a camel together. It was hilarious fun, part of me was terrified that I fall off, while the other part felt it was one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done! Nic was really sweet to me by making sure I wouldn’t fall off by holding me tight and making sure our guide wouldn’t abandon us alone on the camel in the middle of the dessert, lol. The best part of the ride on the camel named Moses was the breathe taking views surrounding us the dessert on the one side of us and the ancient Egyptian ruins on our other side. I’ll never forget this day, the day my childhood dreams came true :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Made it to Cairo

Hi everyone,
I made it safely to Egpyt after a long three days of traveling, but the trip was well worth it. It's orientation week here inwhich we're getting aqaunited to the Greater Cairo and the Arabic culture. It's vastly different from other places I've been before and I love it. The beauty here is beyond words and has a almost magical sense to it. Just yesterday on my first whole day here I saw the prymaids off it the distance, absoultly breathe taking :)

The apartment flats we have here are huge we have a full livingroom, kitchen, and even two baths! The apartemnt is actually better than the ones I had back at college! It is such an expewricne to wake up in the morning 6 floors up and look out my window at a fantasic veiw of the city.

Today we got to visit a masque and all us girls were veiled for the service, it was quite an experience to witness how they worship and the piety they have.

I can barly wait to see what I will experience next. What I do know is this trip will be life changing :)