"Couch surfing" Heliopolis

Heliopolis Travel Blog

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J & G working on getting the money to cover our fares. (lousy camera, 2 tries and all blurred shots)
A few hours later, I caught the Egged bus from Ein Gedi (Dead Sea) to Eilat. I sat next to a lovely Israeli woman whose name I forget now, whose name was recorded in a journal I've misplaced, and we chatted throughout the ride. She told me how she was on her way to a qibutz nearby Eilat to visit her daughter who lived there for nearly seven years! Her daughter gave up electricity, and was growing her own food, etc. trying to have a holistic eco-friendly lifestyle.

When I got into Eilat, a young guy approached me and asked if I was crossing the border into Israel, he had overhead my conversation with Israeli lady. He introduced himself as Justin, and another young guy approached us, saying he too was crossing the border, his name was Gordan. We entered the Central Bus Station at Eilat, and waited for the bus, since a local advised us that there'd be another bus in an hour.
There was no bus, as the man at the tabac kiosk informed us after we were waiting for half hour, d'oh!

Okay, so the three of us caught a taxi outside after the boys haggled with the driver for our fare. We crossed the border though Justin in particular was annoyed about having to pay the exit fee out of Israel. Gordan spent most of his pocket money at this point too. And we were all a bit stressed about getting into Cairo, as the boys were students at American University of Cairo and had to make it back to classes at 8/9 in the morning, while I had to make my flight at 9AM! Not to mention where was I going to stay since I was going to arrive in Cairo around 1AM? Initially I was going to stay by Shir's friend but now I was getting into Cairo so late, I felt bad to wake up Demeira, in the same token, I was worried that hostels wouldn't be open at the hour we were expected to arrive.
J needed a pita at 1:30AM, nice appetite!
Justin shrugged and was like "you can just stay by me, it's only fair, I couch surfed a lot of people I met in Israel." I was a little reticent and didn't immediately agree, saying we'll see.

Expectedly, we missed the last bus from Taba (Egypt) to Cairo. However right across the border there were numerous taxi and minibus drivers. The boys made use of their Egyptian Arabic and haggled, while I played the part of reticent spender, eventually we all came to an agreement of 160 pounds per each of us, and with the driver's understanding that we'd have to stop at the ATM machine once we got into Cairo to pay them.

So off we drove, with another stop to pay the entrance tarrif into Egypt or some such other tarrif, more peeves.

Later, we reached somewhere right outside of Cairo, the driver yelling at us that he could not enter Cairo because he had no license to do so. End of the line. He said that we had to take another taxi with his friend whom would stop at an ATM machine and drive back to pay HIM. UHH what?! He never informed us that he didn't have a license and that he was going to tack on this secondary nonsense of driving somewhere to come back, adding to the fees. The boys tried to negotiate again, and I suggested that we pay in U.S. dollars cos I had a $100USD tuck away for emergencies, sigh of relief, this was accepted. And after getting correct change after some argument, we were on our way.

Did I mention the driver had pulled over on the side of the highway? We had to climb down the steep stairs winding down to ground level from the highway, with no handlebars and our backpacks tipping us over, well at least me, haha, I was sure I'd slip and crack my neck.
J's apartment...very much the boy's pad.
Egyptians are bad ass!

Okay so next driver knew that we were broke, so dropped us off at the ATM, this time Justin pulled out his card, repaid me and Gordan's fares b/c Gordan's card was rejected. Gordan promised that he would pay Justin back at school, I don't know if he ever did b/c Justin refuses to talk about it, so I'm guessing he pulled a runner.

Then Justin asked me what I had decided what I wanted to. Since it was late and I had already traveled with him for a good 8 hours or so, which we both looked out for each other, and had not picked up a creepy vibe, I asked if his offer was still good. So we said goodbye to Gordan, and made our way to Justin's place, AFTER a pit stop for pita with falafel. I was tired but Justin was telling me I had to try sugar cane juice, okay okay, it was worth it, except I had to pee too.
The incidental guest room where I stayed
So I only drank half and he finished the rest.

We walked to his building and entered the smallest lift known to man, okay, known to me :). (Turns out a few weeks later, Justin actually lost the tip of his toe b/c of his habit of wearing flip flops in the lift!)

His next door neighbor was watching who was entering his flat, so we waited for a moment til his neighbor retreated indoors before we both went inside. I think it's frowned upon and even not allowed in some places to have unmarried/unrelated people in private quarters? It did happen to my friend's mother who had to have separate hotel rooms from her common law husband while they traveled in Egypt.

Justin gave me the grand tour of the flat which was covered in rubbish, litter, art projects, plastic bags, shoes, plates, etc.
Guest room continued
ah the bachelor life. Oh and there was hashish on the table. With his pita and falafel in hand, he showed me the bathroom with the wonky shower head. The shower head being broken and replaced with half a soda bottle with holes poked through so the water could disperse hehe. Oh and then there was the unflushed toilet with number 2 in it. Justin called out "dude! you forgot to flush!" Which Josh, the roommate apologized sheepishly, saying "sometimes you imagine you do things while you are alone." hahaha, ewwwwww.

We chatted for awhile over hot tea about our trips, Josh was in Siwa Oasis, Justine was talking about how he fell in love with an Israeli girl in the Golan Heights, and my couch surfing.
The lift in J's building...like 3' by 5'
Josh also wanted to join the IDF to defend his homeland he claimed, I passed on info about the Combattants for Peace to Josh and tidied up after the boys who then jokingly offered for me to continue staying to clean up after them. Haha, no way! Turns out before me, they had a polish couch surfer who was orig. going to stay for a few days unofficially extend his stay for over a month, haha, they are like crazy cat people with strays!

The guys went off to finish their homework, while I went on Justin's comp. updated my locations, including sending Justin's info to friends just in case, repacked, showered. I slept for a couple hours in their lovely unkempt guest room, with count 'em, TWO terraces, and awoke to the lovely sound of muezzin, the call to prayer.

I said goodbye to Josh on his way to class, and caught a taxi to the airport.
on the way to the airport
The driver asked me about who I stayed with, nationality, we had a pleasant convo about family. It was all very pleasant, then he tried to double the agreed upon fare, ah well, funny way to remember my last day in Egypt!

On the airplane, it was not filled to capacity at all. There were two seats between me and the next passenger, an American named Gail. We chatted and gossiped throughout the flight. She "healed my energies," ;), ummm ok?? and said I had a nice aura, and offered for me to stay by her place in Egypt next time. Turns out she is married to an Egyptian but was going home to Virginia to visit her adult children.

The flight was comfortable but I was so miserable when I came home. It was grey, rainy, which normally doesn't bother me but the excitement of travel had come to an end...

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J & G working on getting the money…
J & G working on getting the mone…
J needed a pita at 1:30AM, nice ap…
J needed a pita at 1:30AM, nice a…
Js apartment...very much the boy…
J's apartment...very much the boy…
The incidental guest room where I …
The incidental guest room where I…
Guest room continued
Guest room continued
The lift in Js building...like 3…
The lift in J's building...like 3…
on the way to the airport
on the way to the airport
photo by: genkeeper