If you have an early bus
to catch in Egypt and you stop in at a local store or restaurant for
some food, you'll no doubt wake up the proprietor, who is typically
sleeping on a pallet on the floor. We found this all over the
country, in all types of businesses. Even the help in the hotels
bed down in the lobby every night.
There is no official spelling
in English for Arabic words, including the names of cities.
Because of that, you'll see things spelled four or five different
Traveling south from Cairo
by train, the tracks follow the Nile pretty closely. The area
that abuts the river is very fertile, with farms and palm trees galore.
More than 500 yards away from the river, the land becomes arid and
Unlike Morocco, the other
Muslim country we've visited, men and women are often seen out together.
In Egypt we visited our first
huge American-style grocery store since being home. Swainsbury
in Giza, outside of Cairo, had everything from peanut butter to Aramis
cologne. The cheese sample department was especially fun!
Almost every apple we've
bought has a "Washington Apples" sticker on it.
Nearly every hotel room we
stayed in had at least one mosquito in it at night, and he usually
woke us up at some point during the night. In Cairo one night
we killed eight of them between the time we went to bed and morning.
A lot of buildings look unfinished,
like somebody may come back and add another floor to them one day.
Wondering where all the extra
Tang went after Americans discovered that it was just sugar and orange
color? The Egyptians love it!
If you're a tourist and you
ask for coffee, you get instant Nescafe. The Egyptians all drink
Turkish coffee, which is made by boiling water, sugar, and very finely
ground coffee together.
Someone must have done a
study and determined that using your headlights wastes gas, so drivers
all over the country, no matter how congested the traffic or how dark
the night, use their headlights only sparingly.
Every morning you'll see
store and restaurant owners "watering the ground", as we
called it. They throw water on the ground to keep the dust down
during the day.
People carry all kinds of
things on their heads. One of the sights that is indelibly printed
on my mind is that of a man bicycling through a huge, rush hour traffic
jam in Cairo with a wooden pallet of fresh pita bread on his head.
Entire families (two parents,
two kids) traveling on one motorcycle.
Blatant ripoffs of famous
brand names are everywhere. Garten's Gin and Fineland Vodka
have already been mentioned, but there's also Borio (chocolate cookies
with white cream filling) and Arabisco. In one town we saw a
cheap jewelry store named, boldly, "Rolex".
Thick shakes in Dahab