I didn’t plan to blog on rest days, but I can’t help praise our Egyptian hosts.
To give you an example:
I’ve had to log into my bank account today, for which I need an electronic token. As luck would have it, that token—that I’ve had for over three years—stopped working exactly the first time I needed it here in Africa.
“REPLACE BATTERY”, it read. However, to do so, I needed a small screwdriver that I hadn’t brought. So I asked the owner of our camp/hotel—Rezeiky Camp. He immediately went to fetch a matching screwdriver, and helped me open the token. “Don’t loose it,” he carefully placed the tiny screw into my hand.
It turned out that I would need those flat round types of batteries that—as he said—would be impossible for me to find on my own in Luxor. “I think two stores might have it,” he suggested, “let me go for a drive and check,” and off he went.
Excitedly, I told Ed—who happened to be next door—about the amazing level of service and helpfulness, then went back to my room to put the token and screw at a safe place. Just that he screw was no longer in my hand! I had managed to loose it already, and my search turned out to be a futile affair.
Ten minutes later, the owner reappeared with exactly the type of batteries that I needed. The price was only $1. Of course, I gave him a big tip for his service. “Let me help you put them in,” he offered, but I handed him back the screwdriver and confessed my stupidity. “It’s OK,” I reassured him, “I’ll just use tape.”
Three minutes later, the owner knocked on my door again, holding my screw, so it seemed. “I can’t believe that. Where did you find it?”—”Oh no, it’s another screw, let’s see whether it fits.” He carefully screwed it in, and it fitted perfectly!
This is just one example of the amazing level of hospitality of Egyptians. There are many more, like the Egyptian cyclists who helped me fix my tire on my first day (and whom I had wrongly accused of potentially having stolen my mini-pump, while I was too stupid to find it in my own saddle bag).
It’s a shame that Egypt is currently devoid of tourists. Only the Chinese haven’t stopped arriving. All the local small business owners geared to tourism are suffering big time, for a crime they haven’t committed.
After ten days in Egypt, there hasn’t been a single time that I wouldn’t have felt safe. I’ve never been harassed, and I’ve found everyone here to be very friendly and welcoming. On top of that, prices are—mostly—ridiculously cheap, and all the tourist sights are pleasantly empty.
So, I’d think, now is a great time to come visit. Perhaps, if you’re thinking of escaping that cold winter and go somewhere warm, or to see some of the world’s most important cultural heritage without the crowds, or simply go somewhere cheap, you might want to consider Egypt for your next vacation.
Stage: Rest Day in Luxor
Most of us joined a tour today to visit the Valley of the Kings (including the tomb of Tutankhamun), the Temple of Hatshepsut, and the Temple of Ramses III—all very impressive, though by the end we all suffered from serious temple fatigue induced by starvation. . . .
. . . So, on recommendation from our Egyptian cyclists, we stormed Oasis Cafe & Restaurant near our camp. We surely were a rowdy bunch, especially after few beers on empty stomachs while waiting over an hour for our food. However, the owner managed us all politely, expertly served all our food at the same time, and even apologized for the long wait. Well, what did we expect—20 starved cyclists storming a small family-run restaurant mid-afternoon must have triggered a logistical feat in the kitchen!