Monday, May 14, 2007


I'd assumed long before coming to Egypt that I wasn't going to like it. I'd heard so many bad stories of hassle and harassment that I almost didn't want to go. Egypt should have that great Arab/Islamic hospitality but I'd heard little evidence of it's existence from other tourists. I haven't seen all of the country yet but so far I have to admit that it hasn't been all that bad. Certainly not what I was expecting. But they are liars and incompetent here just the same. It doesn't seem much worse than anywhere else touristy and it's better than the worst of India. In part that is probably due to our low expectations but also to the fact that we are not putting up with or giving in to any nonsense from people. I must confess that due to my expectations, I developed a state of little respect for Egyptians and do not feel the slightest guilt in going pre-emptively ballistic on anyone that even looks like they are thinking about being retarded. And I am not afraid to tell them how I feel. There was even a large scene at the museum in our first days here. I've noticed that mom has often been right there with me too. Dad and Grady must think we are crazy but we aren't normally this aggressive (I don't think anyone here is going to break my ribs). I'm just trying to not show weakness and for the most part we've been largely left alone.
I do get the impression that the government has started to notice their negative reputation and have started to clamp down on some of the more obnoxious locals. The pyramids were almost hassle free and people (almost) quoted the real rates for camel rides inside for example. There are tourist police everywhere (actually, Cairo has more police per person than any other capital in the world, though there are half a dozen different kinds) and in theory they are always on your side. In the few instances where we've threatened or been threatened to have the police involved we always came out on top. At the same time, the police can be rather annoying (as in the museum incident). Don't ask them for directions or any bonus help. Most are young guys with no clue. Some make me totally crazy and get away with ridiculous rules under the quote "for (your) safety". Checkpoints in Sinai that don't check anything, not using the wall to write against for fill your form in (how that is unsafe I can't begin to guess), not sitting too long on the side of the road or closing the museum early. They're a little too obsessed or too lazy. But as I said, the government is trying to make it look like they care now. We've been in Cairo a lot longer than planned already (2 weeks) because we've been doing more filming work, including a commercial series for the ministry of tourism to help bring awareness of tourist issues to the Egyptian population. You'd think they'd've figured it out 100 years ago but then we are on Egyptian time here. Our filming schedule seems to change hourly too. Mom is too funny also. She and dad had starring roles in one long commercial and it was done in two parts, good and bad outcomes. In the bad they had to tell her to tone it down a little and not be so angry at getting ripped off in the market but you should see her on the street for real! They couldn't've picked a better actress for the part. I wonder what the locals will think when they see her on tv and recognize her as the one that attacked them before for real :)
We are now looking for a proper agent and will probably stick around here for a while doing this work. Long days but easy enough and they like us. Every foreigner extra is Russian or some ex-Soviet country and tends to have too much attitude and a certain look. I think they like having new blood in the industry. Of course Bre is very popular but we are all getting parts. It is kind of dumb because the schedules tend to keep us up all night and 15 hour days for $20 seems obsurd but I'm trapped in a logic that I can't deny. If I am willing to go through hell and discomfort to save a couple dollars, how can I refuse to go through it to make more? So here we are. But we should be able to pull in more money soon and it is making us a profit. To just sit here and live, it is costing between $3 and $4. The room is $2 each and food is really cheap. We have a stack of books and the card team is back together so we can't complain.
Hopefully we will still have more to write if we don't go anywhere for a while.


At 11:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Maggie - Happy Birthday... AGAIN.... that two now out there! Wow!!!! All the best and stay safe, all of you...
Love Lisa

At 3:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, Actually thats 3 B-days. First, in Dali, China; Second, in Kabul, Afganistan; and now Cairo, Egypt! Life is great!! Thanks for the birthday wishes.


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