Up at 6:00 again and do last minute packing, then down for a quick breakfast and then into the bus for the drive to the airport. The airport had wifi but I couldn't connect to any email program – very strange.
Flight was uneventful, over vast stretches of the Sahara where you could see the accumulated effect of a rain a year for thousands of years, but not a bit of green or water in sight until we reached the Nile.
We drove immediately to the bazaar – first to the “local” bazaar – where a police office accompanied us through the narrow streets selling pretty much everything an Egyptian family of modest means could want – cheap shoes, raw cotton, tents (lots of these!), live chickens, pigeons, and rabbits plus fruits, breads, clothing, rugs... No one approached us during the entire time we wandered around.
Then we went to the “tourist” bazaar – pretty much anything a tourist with any money could want if it was cheap and Egyptian. Every booth had a “grabber” who would say “best price, where you from?, best in market, the only one like it in all of Egypt.” Got caught by one of them and let Alice bargain with the guy – paid way too much but she had a good time and the guy felt so bad (I guess) from ripping off a kid that he threw in a couple “gifts” to make it more reasonable. After that we beat a hasty retreat.
Back on the bus we found that the cop had gone with the other two families and helped them bargain with the sellers... Strength in numbers I guess...
Anyhow, off to a perfumery near the pyramids – should have known better from my previous experience in that area. Guy was friendly, fed us lunch and a drink, explained how they make only flower essence with no chemicals or alcohol... at only 2 LE a gram – the smallest being 100 gram bottles. I got Alice a vial of Vanilla Perfume but the other families loaded up on the stuff. I guess $190 for 600 grams of good knock off perfume is a reasonable price.
After our escape from that place we got to the hotel and settled into our rooms. Alice and Jordan went swimming in the pool right outside our room (but two floors down...). I got some cloth band aids and literally bandaged my camera, which now seems to work fine.
Everybody went out to dinner to the Cairo Hard Rock Cafe but my stomach was acting up a bit so I begged off. Stayed in the room and sorted out laundry – our last batch before we head home.
Felt a bit better so decided to walk downtown and buy a suitcase. Got to the place but decided to take a look at downtown Cairo at night – much like New York except a lot more burkas – people everywhere selling everything from watches to little plastic babies that swim. Mostly scarves though, which 90% of the women wore covering their hair completely. Went back and got the suitcase, then headed back to the hotel. Took a wrong turn...
Wandered about “close” to the hotel for an hour or so but could not find any landmarks, so I stopped a taxi. Showed the driver my hotel key and said “You know – Giza Street?” He said yes so I got in – and we headed for the pyramids. “Yes” and “American” were the only English words he knew. I gestured and pointed and he stopped and asked a young man who spoke English – then proceeded in the wrong direction. I finally got him to stop and ask a Tourist cop and he turned around and, after about an hour we got back to the hotel. A one hour trip took three...
Alice was a bit worried but all was well. Quite the adventure. Oddly. I felt safe the whole time – beggars, groups of teenagers, crazy traffic and no such thing as a light - safer than many places I've been in the states!