Arrival in Egypt
Hurghada Travel Blog› entry 1 of 4 › view all entries
After spending several months roaming Europe visiting friends, it was time to make some money again. Grand Cayman was still an option I could go back to, but as it wasn't my favourite spot, I thought I'd try someplace new before I returned there.
The nearest major dive destination to Europe was the Red Sea. There were charters flying in to Egypt from several European countries, including Austria, where I was staying with a friend. There was a pretty cheap deal to Hurghada, so I booked it. Picked up a Lonely Planet guide on Egypt, and started doing a bit of homework. Hurghada is right on the Red Sea, and it's split into two areas: the resort part, and the town part, you need to take a bus to get from one area to the other. Almost all the cheap accomodation was in the town, but I would be going around to all the resorts to check on jobs. There was one hostel listed in the guidebook that was in the resort area, so I decided I'd head there. Got my resume typed up and some copies printed while I was still in Austria, so I'd be ready to start looking as soon as I got there. That was my plan, period. Packed up my stuff (other than the cumbersome dive gear, I was a pretty minimalist packer), and my friend dropped me at the airport.
I arrived in Egypt. Immediately swarmed by taxi drivers offering a ride. I shook them off, I just needed a minute to collect myself and get my bearings. Eventually negotiated a ride with one, and got dropped off at the hostel. It was full. Oh, crap! So much for the plan! I decided I'd splurge for the night at the nearest resort, so I could just shed the weight of my bag, see if there was any cheap accomodation that didn't require taking the bus, and get an idea of the layout of everything.
So I made my way to a nearby hotel, and unburdened myself. The cleaning staff made these cool animals by twisting up the towels and left them on the bed.
Second day in Egypt. I have my stack of resumes, and I'm making the rounds to see if any of the dive shops needs an instructor. I decided I'd take the bus to the town part, to see a few shops that were down that way, as well as see the rest of Hurghada.
The buses are actually minivans. Most of them have assorted objects hanging from the rearview mirror, and play loud arabic music. Almost none of them use their lights and night, preferring just to honk all the time instead (I once read an article that said that most Egyptians would have to replace their cars horns several times during the life of their car, but never the headlights). There are two workers on board: the driver, and the fare collector. On the way back from town, I was the only passenger. I climbed into the nearest seat, just behind the bus driver. A few minutes into the drive, he turned around and grabbed my breasts! I was so shocked, I just burst into tears. Which I think was the best reactions I could have had. The fare collector, seeing how upset I was, then started yelling at the driver, kicked him off the bus, and started driving (I saw him several months later, and he came up and said 'remember me? When you were on the bus with that crazy driver?') . I felt better, knowing at least that this wasn't acceptable behaviour! But Egyptian men were very forward. Didn't matter if you wore long pants and long sleeves, if you were a North American female, you couldn't escape attention. If you met their eyes, they took that as an invitation to talk, then to try tugging you into their store (personal space is non-existant!), and have some red tea. After awhile, I learned to just walk everywhere with my eyes down, which just wasn't me. I like to smile at someone as I pass them, or say hello! To avoid eye contact felt very oppressive.