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What am I doing It's all fun and games till Annette faints and Carlyn gets her pants slashed... who am I kidding, it's still fun

Egypt… why the name of Carlyn’s photo album is perfect: Once is Enough

EGYPT | Saturday, 19 September 2009 | Views [842]

Remember that feeling before Christmas… that anticipation… like when you were little and couldn’t sleep because you were going to Disneyland the next day?   That excitement of wanting to go to bed extra early so the next day will come even sooner?  Not since the anticipation of the breakfast buffet at the hotel near Harvard, have I wanted to go to bed at five o’clock just so that I morning will come sooner (that buffet was awesome… just ask anyone who played college softball… there was a waffle bar… and pancakes… and little mini Heinz catsup bottles… it was like Christmas for starving college students) ok… where was I?  Oh yeah… I havn’t had that feeling in years until the day before we were scheduled to dock in Alexandria Egypt. 

 

We were going to Africa.

 

We were going to Egypt.

 

We were going to see the Pyramids.

 

The only surviving World Wonder of the ORIGINAL World Wonders  This was big… Rhodes was cool, but the Colossus is gone.  Gardens of Babylon… Gone.  Statue of Athena… Gone.  Light house in Alexandria… dude, we’re going to Alexandria! Yeah, but it’s gone too. 

 

THE PYRAMIDS!  Out in the middle of the desert… camels and stuff.  I was like a giddy five year old who had just eaten one of those yard long pixy sticks… I couldn’t sit still…. I was going to get to go to the pyramids.  This, needless to say was a quite an interesting cruise for a trip to a conservative Arab nation… being a ship of 2500 gay men getting.  I’m not quite sure who thought this would be a good idea and I’m really not sure if Egypt knew what hit them.

 

After a night of tossing and turning due to the excitement of visiting a world wonder made worse by the Jurassic park vibration being caused by the 3am-7am disco above my head.  Six thirty came none too soon and I was too excited to eat.  Meeting in Ocean View I was that ungodly chipper morning person receiving guttural growls from my bleary eyed dining companions while they slowly attempted to eat their bacon in peace.

 

8am…  All the gay men had been told to act as straight as possible, and I had dressed in my most modest linen pants and sleeved shirt.  No House of the Virgin Mary/ Blue Mosque short shorts and strapless shirt issues today.  Mainly because I had been told I wouldn’t be let off the ship.   What seamed like the entire crew assembled on the I-95 (the main corridor running forward to aft in crew areas on deck 2) and were handed back our passports (the first time I had seen mine in five months) and lined up to be led to our busses (approx. one hour later) 

 

Bus One, the casino bus (and apparently glassblowers, and Javi)… Being bus one does not necessarily mean that your bus will arrive first, but it does mean you will be able to get off the ship first and not have to stand in the provisions area any longer than necessary. 

 

Minus the initial overwhelming, knock you down, eye watering smell of sulfur, the drive from Alexandria to Cairo is surprisingly similar to the drive from San Diego to Vegas… eerily similar, except instead of Carl’s Jr’s at the strip malls lining the side of the freeway it’s a Hardies,  Starbucks,  Burger King,  Mc Donalds, Pizza Hut, and pretty much any other franchise America could export and call “food.”  Under pass… just like the drive to Vegas…

 

Then, just like the drive to Vegas, there it was, a pyramid.  Except this one wasn’t black, there was no light shining out of it, everything was a lot dirtier.  And honestly, I think the Luxor actually has fewer buildings around it. 

 

For those of you who have never been to the Pyramids, you will be surprised to find that they are in the middle of downtown Cairo.  You can purchase a track home on the out skirts of the Pyramids, or perhaps you’d rather have a Pyramid in the your back yard, just a stones throw from your condo (which appeared to be made of mud… the whole city appeared to be made of mud)  Not quite as serene as we had all assumed they would be.  Everyone on the bus had pictured the pyramids just like they are in the, apparently photo shopped, photos… out in the  middle of nowhere desert… maybe a stray camel wanders by every once and a while… out by themselves.  Nope, they’re surrounded by city.

 

While this was all sinking in, our friendly tour guide informed us that we would have a half hour at the pyramids… WHAT?  A half hour?   That’s it?  I drove 2.5 hours to get a stinking half hour?  Fine… I’m going to take as many pictures as I possibly can in that half hour…. If I can detach the death grip of the small child attempting to sell me stuff, avoid his four brothers yelling “dolla, dolla, dolla, dolla” and sticking postcards to me, and not hold on to anything the guy with the camel hands me. 

 

While tripping through the gauntlet of small children telling me they really like Canada (I’m Canadian today) and trying to apparently re-dress me as an Arab man (do NOT put that head dress on me… I have NO clue where that’s been) I notice Carlyn has been suckered onto a camel.   HA.  Sucker… What? Hold… huh? What’s this?  A whip?  What the? How did I end up sitting on a camel?   DUDE… Camel guy has my camera?  Camel’s standing up… Shit!  ARIC… THAT GUY HAS MY CAMERA!!!!!! 

 

Ok, Aric, being probably the most perfectly awesome guy for the situation (being in a bad mood) took charge.  While my camel ran off with me, he retrieved my camera.  While he was repeatedly asked to hold things, he, unlike me, refused every time. My personal favorite when he informed the man leading the camel that, NO, he was not going to hold the reins, THAT”S YOUR JOB!!!

 

Without Aric to physically place himself between me and guy trying to get my money I sincerely believe I would have returned to the ship with out a cent, and probably having most of my belongings replaced with postcards, headdresses and carved statues of Isis.

 

The police arrived with big guns and the camels and children scattered.  

 

Back on the bus.  Shuttled to an overlook for fifteen minutes of more pictures, more children selling things for “one Obama Dollar,” more guys trying to place things on my head (DON’T TOUCH ME I DON’T WANT LICE) and every male tourist posing in the same arms crossed chest puffed out I’m a man at the pyramids stance (for an example see Javi’s picture on facebook)

 

Back on the Bus.  Dude, I always pictured the Sphinx as bigger… the one in Vegas is bigger. We have one half hour.   Aric described it best when he commented that this looked like the place the local teens would hide behind to sneak late night beers. 

 

My favorite is that the Sphinx is just about 150 yards away from a Pizza Hut.  It’s noseless face actually stares directly at the big red and black plastic sign.

 

With all this running around in the Egyptian heat it was beginning to get rather warm and needless to say, in my long pants and sleeved shirt, I began to glissen… ok, I’m not going to lie…. I was perspiring like I’d just been sprayed down with a hose.  I found out that this perspiring tended to make my pants stick to me.  I then learned that when climbing up and down to get just the right pose kissing the sphinx, pants that stick do not have the same give that non stick pants.  This led to five or six inch tear in the ass of said pants.  There goes dressing conservatively so as to not show any skin. 

 

Back on the Bus.  LUNCH.  Off to the Egyption Buffet.  Nothing spells health code violation like B-U-F-F-E-T, and I don’t know about you, but the word parasite comes to mind when I think of Egypt.  So lets combine the two!  Fantastic idea!  I have an even better idea… I’ll try a little bit of everything just incase something has been sitting out too long…  Perfect!  The best thing about lunch was the $3 Coke.  It might very well have been the best coke I’ve ever had. 

 

Back on the Bus.  To sit on the bus and wait for the casino staff to return from KFC.  Yep we all found out later that they had had a great idea. 

 

Now, I know I was excited about what came next.  A whole hour and a half at the papyrus store.  I really would have felt like I missed out if I hadn’t had the opportunity to watch the papyrus making demonstration then wander around the store for the next hour… 30 minutes at the pyramids, 15 at the over look, 30 at the sphinx.  Thank god we didn’t miss anything in the papyrus store.

 

Finally… back on the bus.  Sleeping through the ride back, waking only when the tangible smell of sulfur hit me up side the head, we returned to the ship.  Ending our trip to Egypt Carlyn and I wandered the makeshift souvenir shacks lining the port, looking at Egypt souvenirs made in china, we both bought something knowing full well that we would never, ever, ever be back to Egypt… ever….

 

I have my Made in China proof that I was there.  I recommend it once.  And if I ever have the inkling to visit again I’ll head to Vegas where the pyramid’s shiny, the sphinx is bigger and the buffet doesn’t give the entire entertainment department food poisoning… 

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