Egyptian odyssey: pyramids, beautiful women, hypocritical men
‘YOU can’t look at her that way,” he rebuked. “But why not?” I asked “Because it is not allowed,” he explained.
Breakfast time at the Hilton Hotel in Alexandria, Egypt and the Egyptian men are not taking kindly to our admiring “their” women.
The lasses who served us breakfast were pretty good-looking and the boys playfully flirted. But their colleagues didn’t like it and used some sob story about the law and religion to try and stop us, the fact that the females seemed to enjoy the attention notwithstanding.
A day later, we took pleasure calling them to order when we caught them drooling over a South African woman who had made the trip to support Bafana Bafana.
“Leave her alone, she’s married,” we told the bloody hypocrites.
Egypt 2006 may have been a nightmare for Bafana Bafana on the field, but I had a moerse jol.
Before we left Cairo where Bafana played a pre-tournament friendly with the hosts, we did some sightseeing.
A trip to the famed pyramids of Giza is a must whenever in Cairo so, along with colleagues Kgomotso Mokoena and Timothy Molobi, we got a taxi and headed there.
If you think South Africans are bad taxi drivers, you obviously haven’t been to Cairo yet. There, it is the case of he who hoots the loudest has the right of way. And almost without fault all the taxi drivers smoke like chimneys and the word “Donkey” is on the tip of their tongue, their favourite swear word, directed at fellow drivers.
The one thing South Africans can learn from the rest of the continent is to hustle. Sure a lot of us, especially here in Jozi, complain about the hawkers at the traffic lights. But that is nothing compared to how other Africans push their wares to you.
And so it was that we got sold all kinds of goodies while at the Pyramids, from bags through papyrus calendars, bookmarks with hieroglyphics and miniature pyramids as well as lots of perfumes. Most of the shops offered us free tea to lure us.
Such is their resourcefulness that some of the Egyptians would willingly volunteer a story of how the Sphinx got its nose broken only to insist that you pay them upon their regaling you with the tale.
And then we got convinced to go for a camel ride. What a hairy experience! I remember screaming “let me down, let me down” the moment the camel got up from its sitting position, the animal was that high. My screams fell on deaf ears and soon we were on Giza’s streets.
But then on a very narrow passage, disaster struck. A couple of dogs came out from nowhere and their barking scared the living daylights out of the camels which panicked. Fortunately there were walls on both sides and we jumped off on to, and over them, sustaining scratches in the process.
Alexandria was way calmer, being as it is right on the Mediterranean Sea and I got to enjoy lots of walks by the beach – some in the delightful company of the lovely SA lady we’d rescued from the drooling Egyptians.
Dinners in Alexandria were huge feasts at different restaurants for the SA media contingent, some of whom enjoyed the hubbly-bubbly so much they brought some home.
No Bafana Afcon is ever without the usual battle for money and HOD Mubarak Mohamed pinned it all on Benni McCarthy who later refused to play for SA until the official apologised.
We, on the other hand, made no apologies for giving the pretty hotel lasses come-hither looks.