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From world heritage sites, to some of the region’s most insistent tourist touts…welcome to Cairo.


January 16, 2010 10:21 by

Two minutes later – I will never know how I got there – I am sitting on a camel with Ahmed taking my picture. Then it gets a little awkward. I keep up my refrain of, “I’m not going to pay you,” and Ahmed keeps agreeing. But when I ask to get down, he suggests that although he, of course, doesn’t want money, perhaps a little baksheesh for the animal might be appropriate. I argue that it might not be. But I am on a camel and he is on dry land. And he has my camera. But I have his camel. Neither of us knows how to work the controls of the other’s property, but we are in a stand-off.

I manage to persuade Ahmed to fold his camel to the ground by agreeing to pay my baksheesh when I am down. “Very little,” I say. He is OK with that.

Until I give it to him. Apparently my idea of very little (pocket change) is different from his (“Just EGP30″ or AED20) and there is a tug-of-war with the camera, before I stomp off feeling foolish, righteous, mean and guilty all at once, and Ahmed stomps off in the other direction, probably feeling much the same.

After the trip is over, I still have the photos Ahmed took, despite his parting demands that I delete them. I’d told him I wouldn’t pay when he was taking them, so I kept them on principle. I don’t like to look at them, though. Being conned on a camel in a filthy headdress is not how I’d like to remember the only remaining wonder of the ancient world.

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  1. Carol Allison on January 18, 2010 4:42 pm

    Reality Cairo. Really enjoyed the article.

  2. Maghraby on January 20, 2010 12:00 pm

    Unfortunately you just stated interesting facts about Egypt, and real live situations from the poor Egyptians that abuse the tourists coming over with no supervision what so ever from the government.

    However the beauty of the places and the amount of stunning historical locations around Egypt from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan to Sharm El Sheikh cannot be described, as it’s a real heaven on earth and its worth the visit at least once in your lifetime :)

    Just a small hint from an Egyptian that lived all his life in Egypt, those who really wants to visit Egypt for tourism, you should try getting to know an Egyptian prior your visit to ease your planning and will help you avoid all the hassle you’ve mentioned in your article :)


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