"Couch surfing" Heliopolis
Heliopolis Travel Blog› entry 10 of 12 › view all entries
April 21st, 2009 – by: Transitory
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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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