When you expect hell and land in purgatory, you can’t help but think “hey, this isn’t that bad!” True, Cairo is filthy and loud. The air quality would kill a sufferer of anything beyond mild asthma. And it is literally falling to pieces under the weight of its 18 million inhabitants. But, after the plethora of hell-on-Earth-esque warnings, I was steeled for, well, hell on Earth. I must say I am pleasantly surprised.
The filth is par for the course, the smell just brings back fond memories of Asia and South America and the people, I swear this is true, are friendly and hospitable. Even at the pyramids of Giza today, no tout tagged along after the third dismissal. And then, and this is the real shocker, he slipped meekly away with no more than a “good day.”
I was expecting full-blown Moroccan-style verbal abuse at every turn. Where are the children calling us racists? Where is the shop keeper screaming “you cheat me!” Today, when walking through the Islamic Quarter a man warned us that a street was closed. I thought, oh I’m onto you buddy! And when we had to turn around and sheepishly retrace our steps past the man’s shop, we were so ashamed that we feigned an ignorance of English.
So, maybe we look threatening. (I do stand a full five feet.) Or maybe dudes give props to Radek’s mini-harem. (“Sir, you have two wives?”) But whatever the case, we are pleased with the result: enjoying the awe-inspiring pyramids in peace and strolling this unique and often downright picturesque city hassle-free.