So… I was in Egypt for the Wikimania event. I have been to several of these – Taipei (Taiwan), Buenos Aires (Argentina), London and Alexandria (Egypt). For the later I went to a bit of a tiki tour with Cormac Lawler down to Luxor by train to see the Temple of Karnak, and Valley of the Kings etc. Karnak, by the way, was absolutely stunning. I think it was the middle of summer so tourism was at a low (it’s too hot) so Cormac and I hung about on a beautiful evening with the temple all to ourselves. Incredible.
When I got back to Cairo, I decided to go check out the great pyramids. Tourism was also low-ish there, and I actually got a good 10 minutes in the ante chamber all by myself.. also incredible. Any how, I decided to go for a camel ride around the pyramids. Actually, I think it was decided for me. I was traveling by myself and had avoided all the street vendor merchants – they really try hard to get your attention. I was kinda proud of myself but at the pyramids I kinda got ambushed. This guy spotted me and I just couldn’t get away so I figured…what the hell…camel ride it is…
So, up on the camel I go and we prance around the pyramids. The chap was walking ahead leading the camel and I was up top exactly like one of those silly tourists I always avoid trying to be, be near, or even see if I can help it.
So this dude leads me around and then suddenly I find he has led me and the camel between two lo- lying flat-roofed buildings. They sort of looked like tomb entrances or bunkers. The path between the two was super narrow, maybe just enough room for two camels. Then he stops. I see that there is a guy sitting on top of one of the flat roofs. About eye-level with me. I also notice no one can see us here even though this is in the middle of tourist central. I can’t see anybody else, no one can see me.
The guys stops the camel and says to me .. “Give me all your money”. Its now obvious that I’m going to get robbed. However, the weird thing was it felt kinda soft. Like a rather amicable robbery. The dude was kinda friendly and the guy on the roof looked about 14 and kinda mellow. The biggest issue was I just didn’t know how to get down from the camel. Camels are really big and its a long way down. I felt if I didn’t give him the money I might spend an awkward amount of time sitting up there waiting for someone to give in. Also, I knew I had no money. I had split my money up to small notes in one pocket, and the large ones in the other. So, rather than create a fuss, I just gave him what I had in the small note pocket, while protesting of course. I think it was about the equivalent of $10 USD. He then took the money and we completed the tour.
It was kinda funny. I think I could have made a fuss and yelled out. Police were all over the place and not too far away. But I also didn’t want to create a scene so I just gave him the money and we all moved on. Tourist tax, I figured.