1) Make sure you get your entry VISAS before you enter Egypt. Before, it was you get it when you enter. Now, they will send you back no matter where you are coming from or your citizenship. They just sent back 8 kids from Atlanta last week because they did not have Visas. I see they did nothing wrong, since the rules changed abruptly without updating the travel books.
2) The pig virus scare here is big. They are freaked out by it. So anybody entering the country has to go through this severe health screening upon landing right away before they let you through. You will be asked a bunch of stuff and your temperature will be taken. I was advised by the American Consulate to tell everybody coming to carry migraine tablets or anything to bring your temperature down before getting tested. If you have motion sickness on a plane, or get sick from landing, or whatever…make sure you are normal in every way before you get tested. You only get one chance. I know a guy who was detained with a bunch of people who had the virus, and he was innocent. He had just woken up from the plane with a stuffy head from cabin fever. That dude freaked out and won’t return to Egypt. So please, make sure you bring yourself down before they test you.
3) Just don’t speak ANY English when you see me. Just let me handle everything until we get home and then you can tell me everything. When you stroll out of the airport, ACT like you’ve been there before and know where you’re going. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Do not ever talk English in any shopping situations or in any cabs.
I’ll probably try getting you into everything at the Egyptian rate. Last time, they nailed one of my friends at the entrance to the Cairo museum because I gave her my sister’s I.D card and when they asked her a friendly hello in Arabic and she responded in English…all HELL broke loose. Seriously, paying 20 cents versus 50 bucks is worth keeping quiet. Just keep quiet. There are certain words in guide books they tell you to say or try to teach you the wrong Arabic words, don’t even try. Egyptians are the smartest fuckers on the planet. They will smell you out by your shoes and know where you are coming from and what country…right away. Keep them guessing, don’t say anything. These are the only words you need to know when you are with me:
4) Memorize these words….
ASALAM ALAYKOUM – ( A SALAM ALAY KOM)
Means PEACE BE WITH YOU.
You say this every time you enter somewhere, greet people, meet people, enter a cab, enter a hotel, enter anywhere and come face to face or in contact with ANYONE. They say if you are the one walking, you say it first. If you are the one doing the entering, you say it. But learn to say it without an accent.
If someone says it to you FIRST: you reply and say, WA ALAYKOM ASALAM (and peace be with you).
You destroy any negativity and bad thoughts from ever being born when you say these simple words. Nobody will harm you or cheat you, or think to do bad. If you are in America, and greeted a criminal on the street FIRST by saying PEACE BE WITH YOU even in English, he may just skip over you.
4) Fly into Alexandria (Nozha) or Cairo, don’t matter. I plan on relocating to Cairo when it starts getting cold by the sea – around December. It’s still pretty humid during the day, and the breeze is very nice midday, but in the evenings you may need a sweatshirt (in Alexandria).
5) How much money to bring? Food here is fairly cheap. Everything you find in America, you can find here, even all the chains. Those prices stay American, but the end bill always comes with increased taxes and the franchise fee gets passed to you. So a happy meal at McDonalds will cost you 8 bucks versus 4. It’s bullshit, but whatever. Other than that, if you can eat Falafel everyday, then bring only two bucks. If you are like me, and you don’t really eat meat, but seafood, bring $50 more. The only thing I spend money here is hash, food, the salon, gym, and cab fares. My sister can get by here less than 20 bucks a week, while I withdraw $100 every three days. She’s simple living, while I’m always going places to meet people so it adds up in transportation, lounging, and dining. You will need money for gifts for sure and food, and that’s it. I would bring $200 for every week you are here. THAT should be more than enough, per person.
Egypt can be expensive if you go the naive tourist route. This ain’t the place to come part of a tour group, or on your own. NOT AT ALL. If you don’t know me, find a friend who is going to be in Egypt the same time you are, then go. There are a thousand sides to Egypt. Cairo itself, is made up of worlds within worlds that I haven’t even fully explored yet. It’s about 12X the size of NYC. When you go around with a Native, you really SEE Egypt, and you won’t get screwed. Don’t come here with kids because the streets are crazy. And if you get into trouble for any reason here, misunderstanding or whatever, just play their game and they’ll release you in a few hours. The American Consulate is useless here. You are on your own. Now, if you get seriously imprisoned, that’s when you call your parents and your get out of jail contacts in high places. I’m heavily loaded with U.S government contacts because, as some of you already know, I served my time on the Hill and I’ve worked hard for several congressmen and senators. But I’m not going to call senate and use my favor cards for stupid shit. I save those for the rainy days because they will be coming. So be cool here.
If you want something, tell me and I’ll haggle for you. You can’t see Egypt in a week, or even 2. So don’t come for less than 2 weeks. It takes awhile for you to get a hang of the place. It’s HUGE. This is the place to stock on medicine, to get checked out for anything, surgeries, dentists, blood tests, anything medical. Also, they have the best, best perfume oils here. Good spices and scents. Good silver and lapis. Good seafood. Good living. Excellent salons. So stay awhile.
PLACES TO GO AFTERWARDS
The reason why I like being here, versus the U.S, is because I’m closer to everything. I’m right in the middle. For an extra $300, you can catch a plane to Turkey, Lebanon, or Greece. For $400, you can go to Dubai or anywhere in Europe. You can take South African Airlines and go south to Capetown or anywhere in Africa. You can catch a cruise ship heading back to the States or anywhere for about $600-700. Next Monday, I’m taking a train to Aswan and from there, I’m taking a ferry into Sudan. To get to Sudan is going to cost me about a hundred bucks and from there, I have no idea how I’m going to get back yet…but that’s part of the cool cat adventure. From what I was told, it’s a shaky visit, and to navigate the borders, it’s all bribes.