We tried to take a vacation recently to Ein Sukhna, or hot springs. It’s a spot near the Red Sea, where mostly Egyptians vacation, as opposed to tourists from outside of Egypt. That means it’s more affordable, and with a more Islamic atmosphere.
We basically went on the spur of the moment, because that’s how dh is. He gets it in his head to go somewhere, and he wants to do it that day. Unfortunately it was Friday and we couldn’t find a driver. We did find one Egyptian brother, Usama, someone I’d dealt with before to go to Rehab. He seemed pretty nice. Dh makes the arrangements for the brother to show up at 9am Saturday. I shop, prepare food and get the kids ready. Well, 9am Saturday, no Usama. Dh calls him. He apologizes and says he was out late. Dh is like, ‘And? We had an agreement.’ So he says he’ll call “Muhammad” to come get us in an hour. Dh told him to call and confirm that “Muhammad” would actually be showing up. We didn’t hear anything, so dh calls around and finds someone else, who shows up about 10am. We’ve been traveling for an hour, when dh cell phone rings. It’s Usama to let us know our driver is downstairs waiting! Dh is like, brother, we left. They go back and forth, dh letting him have to for breaking his agreement. Finally Usama says, ‘Cancel my number from your cell phone.’ I think he meant erase, but his English is shaky. Dh was like, shukran, wassalam.
I was like, hold on one minute. He’s in the wrong and is telling us not to call again! As if we did him wrong! The problem is that there are so many foreigners in Egypt now, that some people have started to have it a little good. They don’t have to worry about giving good service, cause hey, someone new will come along. But I just had to put our experience out there and we will definately not be calling that brother again.
On to the trip, the driver who actually took us was a brother dh had met previously while taking a taxi to the Cairo International Bookfair, two years ago. The brother had welcomed us to Cairo, and actually treated us to a lunch of falafel. He tried to refuse the fare, but dh insisted on paying. Fast forward two years. He lets us know his rates, they turn out to be a bit more than the previous brother, but he says he’s giving us a discount on his normal fees. Ok. On the way he offers to rent us a tire from the car for 5 LE to swim with. Dh is like huh?! Later dh related the sad reality that the brother had changed. From treating us, to trying to make whatever money he could. The price even ended up changing at the end of the day, but we’ll get to that. The point was dh knew an Egyptian that seemed different from the many that try to fleece you, but now he’s joined the mainstream, mashallah. I viewed it a little differently. The brother has married and has a kid, now. He, probably feels he has to make every dime, or piastre he can. I wish he could treat us like ‘normal’, but who knows how I’d act if the roles were reversed.
On to Ein Sukhna. I’d heard you could rent a place for a reasonable amount, and have a good amount of privacy. Try as we might, we could not find any place to rent. We ended up just paying to sit on a crowded beach, which was none too clean. Dh first refused to get out of the car. When he finally did, he just sat there, cursing Egypt and Egyptians, and vowing never to travel again, lol. He really likes many aspects of living here, but he hates getting burned. LOL, when we got home, the brother upped the price of taking us there, reasoning, well, you didn’t have to pay for a hotel, so you may as well give it to me!
We are used to just picking up and going someone in the States, but obviously it’s not a good idea in Egypt. Plan in advance and prepare. Alhamdulillah, all was not in vain. The kids had a good time in the water. The scenery on the way was beautiful, the roads cut right through the mountians. Here are some pics.
The Red Sea
On the way:
A masjid on the road