Giza pyramids at sunset (106 KB)
Mausoleum of Qutbay, medieval Mamluk Sultan of Egypt (224 KB)

Sunday, Sept. 12, 8:25 AM Cairo: Windsor Hotel
Carol's in the shower of the 'best room in the hotel'. We were glad to be met by someone from the hotel and ushered through the crush of people at Cairo Airport. My ATM card was retained at the airport; the [numeric] keypad was non - US and I remembered the [US] layout wrong. No A/C [air conditioning] at the airport, long lines, pushing people... my fears confirmed. It cost E£110 (~$33) to call & order a new card; hopefully it'll reach us before we leave Egypt.

I was wound up like a top yesterday, in shock kind of. I was a zombie as we walked to the Egyptian Museum yesterday (not a mummy, a zombie), but aside from crossing streets (pedestrians, even locals, were running to get across) the stress levels were within the norms we found in Turkey.

On our way back to the hotel, we searched for an ATM machine for Carol to use. After trying a half-dozen banks and asking several people, we found one -- two blocks from the hotel.

Our breakfast was a lovely omelet at the hotel; our lunch a quick mango juice/milkshake at the museum. But our dinner was Chinese food at the Peking restaurant a block from our hotel - a euphoric meal! We've {Mon. 9/15, 11:30 AM} not had Chinese food since leaving home. We had fried dumplings, some peanut chicken, and garlic beef. {Wed. 9/17 6 AM Hotel Windsor} It seemed like home -- they were playing American pop music, and even 3 Santana songs. Monday [9/13] I was up at 3:15 AM -- after 3 hours sleep -- and unable to sleep again until 6:30. Carol wanted to take the Mon. night train to Luxor and spend a couple of days there. I felt that was too much stress for me to handle, that if one more mishap befell us, I'd unglue. So instead we spent Monday lazing around the hotel, going out only to the bank, post office, and 2 restaurants listed in "Let's Go" [guide book]. We had a mondo garlic lunch and a macaroni casserole & beef stew dinner. At dinner, we visited w/ an American woman traveling alone [Nancy Elizabeth Curry, studying ethnomusicology at UC - Santa Barbara, and studying Arab music]. She'd been in Syria & is spending 2 weeks in Egypt.

Sunday we spent 4½ hours visiting 4 different Egypt Air offices trying to buy Luxor tickets. The first three had either reservation or credit card machines down. At the 4th office we discovered my [credit] card was no good -- I was over my limit! No ticket; we didn't want to go get cash, which would've been a stretch anyway. So we took the hotel's afternoon tour: N. City of the Dead (Qutbay Mosque), a papyrus shop, and the Pyramids at Giza.

Sept. 19 Fri. 8:15 AM 35,000' over S. Africa
Egypt highlights:
- Giza at sunset
- the Islamic Museum [much of the stuffed stripped from Mosques was there]
- Chinese food the first time [the second time we got the runs]
- walking near the Ibn Tulun mosque [a neighborhood of non-tourist industry Egyptian doing business & going about their lives]
- the hotel room [Michael Palin stayed in our room #16 while filming 'Around the World in 80 Days]
- attending the concert rehearsal [of an Egyptian Symphony playing Egyptian music -- attendance made possible by Nancy]
[- the Egyptian Museum]

Then the complaints:
- diarrhea
- waiting & walking for working reservation systems, charge card machines, and ATMs
- the people: a lying & cheating cabbie [took us the long way around; I had a map]; baksheesh [esp. having to pay every time I wiped myself]; being accosted at every tourist joint and every time we looked irresolute [above all: a dearth of smiles, laughter, and good humor]
- The worst, though, was Carol being harassed, bumped, jostled, and [grabbed twice] -- and the vigilance, tenseness, and grimness we respond with. India, though, we expect to be worse [thankfully, our expectations were quite wrong -- India was great]; a reevaluation of our approach is underway.

Cairo -- what we saw of it -- seems a grim and dirty city, with a hard cynical edge to it [that] we didn't see in London, Athens, or Turkey. We felt like we were wearing "please hassle me and rip me off" signs, judging by the way people treated us. The contrast between Egypt and Turkey could not have been more surprisingly dramatic. We'd return to Turkey in [a] heartbeat; Egypt {9/25, Kruger} would require more thought and preparation.