Tag Archives: Egypt

5. Different Countries, Different Bathrooms

During a four hour bus ride from Alexandria to Cairo through the Sahara Desert, I drank a lot of water from the ice chest next to the guard with a machine gun.  Citizens of Egypt cannot own guns, which briefly made me consider living there.  The guide was perhaps exaggerating when she said there were no rapes or murders in Egypt.  The bus broke down in the middle of the Sahara, but the bus company had a spare bus following us in case we were raided (and with an Israeli stamp on my passport, I would be the first person to be shot).  I had a plan how to save myself from Arab terrorists.  I would say, “Hun yukka habee yuk ah bee bee, ” the Arabic phrase I learned from watching “I Dream of Jeannie.”  I don’t know the exact translation,  but it is a form of endearment followed by a declaration of love.
We arrived at the pyramids, and I was surprised that the building blocks did not form a smooth pyramid, as you might think from photographs.  Apparently they did at one time.  Up close you could see the giant blocks, each sticking out.  It was very exciting to see them far away through the desert haze and then close up.
We had paid ten dollars in advance for Josh to ride the camel.  I had already ridden a camel in Israel, where my thighs hurt from being too spread apart over the camel’s wide stomach.  I was trying to get a photo of Josh on the camel, but the man pulling the camel kept moving too fast.
“Give me the camera and I will take the photos” the man said.  I gave him the camera.  He took a few photos, then places a scarf over my head, made a turban, and told me to pose with Josh.
“You are the Queen of the Nile!”  He said.  I looked miserable as he took the cheesey photo, which came out terrible.
“Can I have the camera back?”
“That will cost forty dollars, ” he said.
“No, give me back my camera!  And get my husband off that camel.”
“That will cost thirty dollars, a total of seventy dollars.”
I ran off  to get the tour guide.  The ridiculous thing about this encounter with the con artist is that we had been warned at the lecture on the  cruise ship about these ploys, but warnings had never stopped me, unfortunately.  When I an anounced that I would be flying to Puerta Vallarta for my honeymoon, a woman at a party warned me not to order any drinks when the plane stopped for fuel, or afterwards, because the ice is made of toxic water.  The plane refueled, and sure enough I was so thirsty I ordered a diet coke with ice. Of course I spent the next three days in the bathroom.
The tour guide called the police on the con man, and he was taken away.
Here’s the facebook post I wrote from the ship:
Riding a camel, ten dollars.
Taking a photo, free.
Getting off  the camel, thirty dollars.
Getting the camera back, forty dollars.
Spending time at the pyramids, priceless.
When we arrived at the magnificent Sphinx, I really had to pee, and the bathroom was far away.  I had make a terrible mistake in not carrying Egyptian change.  I don’t know about you, but when I have to pee really badly, the closer I get to the bathroom, the more urgent the need becomes.  So I stand in a long line only to realize that they are selling toilet paper and I have no change.  I run away and yell for my husband.  It turns out he doesn’t have the equivalent of a nickel either, so he just gives the gate holders to the bathroom a bunch of money, but they still give me one square of toilet paper.  I’m not like Julia Dreyfuss on Seinfeld begging for one square of tissure–I need more absorbency.  If I had had to poo, I don’t know what I’d have done.  But then the unthinkable happened, and I peed my pants once inside the bathroom so badly that I told myself “this won’t show at all.”  I looked int the mirror, and the entire crotch of my denim shorts,, back and front, was soaked in urine, and it was obvious to all that I had peed my pants.
I had entirely missed the lecture on the Sphinx.  It was so hot that my shorts dried pretty quickly.
For our twentieth wedding anniversary, we stayed in the Costa Del Sol, Spain.  We visited  the Picasso museum in the town where Picasso was born, and I was absorbed by his rose period, which no one talks about.  I thought these pink pictures the most beautiful Picassos of them all.   Josh and I both had to pee, so we went downstairs.  After I finished, the lights went off.  There I was in a stall in pitch blackness.  I felt around the door for the opening, but couldn’t find one on the right hand side, where the door openings are in the U.S.  I was getting claustrophobic and panicky, anxiously feeling all over the door to no avail. So I screamed.
“Help!  Help!  It’s dark in here and I can’t find the latch in the stall!”
A woman outside asked my husband, “Someone is not mentally right in the bathroom. What is wrong with her?”
Josh told the woman I was his wife and to go help me.  It turned out the latch was
 on the left hand side.
“Why did the lights go off?”
“To save money.”
And still Spain went broke.

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Filed under humor, memoir, travel