From world heritage sites, to some of the region’s most insistent tourist touts…welcome to Cairo.
January 16, 2010 10:21 by Austyn Allison
There are too many scams in Egypt to list, and they mainly involve being told what you want. In this case, I’m told I want to be taken to a papyrus museum where a guide will show me how traditional paper was made. This costs nothing. Then I am given the chance to buy some papyrus as a souvenir. The price falls fast as I walk away. As I succeed in extracting myself from the “museum” papyrus-free, my guide looks miffed towards my driver, and my driver will look apologetic towards my guide, and slightly bitter towards me, for depriving him of his cut of the profits.
The touts are out. I might be looking for a glimpse of history, but they are keen to persuade me that what I want is to give them my money one way or another. Within minutes of leaving my taxi in the car park, paying my EGP60 (AED41) to get in to the Pyramids, and setting off to wander around, a potential guide accosts me. “You want camel ride?” he asks.
“No thanks,” I say.
“Maybe later,” I agree.
“My name is Ahmed. You take my photo so you remember me later,” the man suggests. I take his photo.
“Now I take your photo,” he proposes. I acquiesce, and let him take my camera. He is wearing robes, I am wearing trousers; if he runs away with my camera, I can catch him.
He takes my photo. “Now over here,” he proposes, and moves me around so when I hold up my hand it looks like I am touching the top of a Pyramid. By this point, Ahmed has also given me some new headgear to wear – an oily rag that smells a bit of sweat. This is starting to look like a scam.
“I’m not going to give you any money,” I say.
“No, no, that’s fine,” says Ahmed, cheerily.