Quick disclaimer: these are merely our thoughts and opinions on some of the things we found noteworthy in Egypt and these views are in no way shared by the oppressed people of Tibet.
Really the most important effect Islamic countries have on us is that Laynni ends up feeling like a slut whenever she wears a short sleeve shirt.
Surprisingly, pizza is a staple on Egyptian menus, and not just in tourist places.
99% of Egyptian men shake hands as though a limp, rotting perch is attached to the end of their arm. Either that or go with the enthusiastic “low five”.
True culture shock for a Canadian is putting on sunscreen to go to a restaurant.
The concept of shower curtains here is a bit different. Often there are none, and when they are used they always stop at least 2 feet from the floor so that your bathroom always has at least a thin layer of water to walk through.
Keeping your spot in line, any line, involves spreading your arms and making yourself as big as possible as though you are protecting a baby from a bear or something.
Very few mosquitoes (although there were a few, even in the desert), one cockroach in all of Egypt, but millions of flies, all starved for moisture so that they like to divebomb your lips or hitchhike on the sweaty parts on the back of your shirt (well, Laynni’s shirt to be exact).
Of all the buses, trains and ferries we took in Egypt exactly ONE both left and arrived as “scheduled”.
We took a local Nile cruise and ended up being treated like the second coming of Brangelina by a young courting couple.
The air is so dry in most places here that you can wash clothes and hang them in your dark, airless room and they will be dry by evening.
At one point coming from Aswan it was so hot you could see a girl’s breath because she was eating ice cream.
The other driver in our 2 Cruiser caravan on the Desert Road tried to remove a flat tire by loosening the lug nuts the wrong way. I stopped Laynni from suggesting he use “Lefty loosey, right tighty” to remember it.
There are cats everywhere, and they all congregate in restaurants trying to sneak food from tables. Except the dozens that always just curl up around Laynni, for some reason forgetting about their hunger while basking in her purposefully irritated glow.
Waiters ALWAYS have to look up the prices on the menu when you go to pay. Mohammed, in Dahab, very smart, funny guy, had been there for 15 years. Still had to look up the price of a cheeseburger.
3/4 of the restaurants in Dahab have a guy standing on the sidewalk trying to corral people into their restaurant. The aforementioned Mohammed, at Paradise restaurant, is one of the few who does not do this. When someone suggested he sit down and rest he replied “But if I’m resting, who’s hassling the people?”. He also liked to call out to bikers or people walking by in full scuba gear – “Taxi?”
Red hair is obviously not as common in Egypt. Shaher has a red-haired friend and they call him “Fanta-boy”. Just found that funny.
Maybe Dahab used to be inhabited by hippies but now families outnumber dreadlocks at least 50 to 1.
It appears backpacking technology has passed us by a bit. We are among just a handful of people we’ve met who aren’t carrying a cell phone.
In most places near the ocean the water is mixed with salt water. Makes for very difficult, lather-free showers, let me tell you.
In Luxor there are so many cruiseboats they need to moor 4 deep. The people in the farthest boat have to walk through the other 3 to get to shore, and those on the inside must enjoy their view of the side of the other ships.
There is common song I’ve heard here that really sticks in your head. I’m sure it is actually Arabic and that my interpretation is completely wrong but to me it sounds exactly like they are chanting “She shagged Shawn. She shagged Shawn.” Always followed by hysterical laughter. Go figure.
Dahab has some of the best milkshakes in the galaxy. Penguin restaurant in particular.
Regardless of how common a particular onward trip may be nobody ever has any idea about transportation schedules. It’s always like it was the first time they ever considered someone might take the train from Luxor to Cairo, or the bus from Sharm to Dahab.
“Where you from?” “Canada.” “Ah ha! Canada Dry – Never Die! Ha ha ha!” This happened everywhere. I generally received blank stares when replying “You are correct. Drinking Canada Dry does, in fact, make you immortal. Well done.”
Egypt: Constantly exhausting, humourously friendly, relentlessly irritating. All in one.
Back from Petra and Wadi Rum later this week.