So, I needed to buy a bus ticket (pictured above) to St. Katherine’s Monastery for tomorrow morning. Easy enough, right? Well, I was told what to tell the taxi driver to get to the bus station – and I grabbed a taxi, and explained it to him, and I was only 50% sure that he knew where he was going. Finally he pulled up to the bus station (I was very surprised) and I paid him the 10 pounds for the ride and as soon as I got out, a man came up to me and started asking what I needed. I knew I’d have to tip him, but I wanted help, so he figured out where I wanted to go (his English was pretty good) and we got up to the ticket booth, but then I realized I had forgotten to go to the bank. He said he had friends that could change my money. So we went around back to his friends.
It was at this point that another man came up and started to really insist that I needed a personal taxi driver to take me, not a bus. “My guy” insisted that I only wanted a bus, and they started yelling at each other. This is very common in this culture, for there to be heated arguments. In fact, when my guy was in his argument, about 10 feet away there was another large/loud argument. My guy’s friends had to pull him and the other man apart though, and then I thought it was done, and they started going at it again. I wish I could have gotten some video of it – it was really intense. Finally they started to figure out how much money to give me…and this is where I am pretty proud of myself. I’d saved the exchange rate receipt from when I had exchanged money at the Thomas Cook bank when I first got to Cairo – so I pulled it out and basically made them figure it out from that receipt – so I knew I was getting a good rate. So, I got the Egyptian pounds, bought the ticket, and then was ready to hand “my guy” a few pounds, but he wouldn’t take it (which is very odd here in Egypt).
So that went very well. My bus leaves tomorrow at 11.30am. So I needed a taxi from the bus station to Zamalek, where I was going to meet up with Henrik. A taxi driver looked at me and said, “Taxi?” and I replied, “Yes, Zamelek.” We got into the car, and I made the mistake of pulling out my money to organize it (do NOT do this in the taxi, especially the front seat where the driver can see you). He said (well, I thought he said), “13 pounds.” And I said…”No, that’s too much, 10 pound, 10 pound.” He kept arguing for “13” pounds, and finally, when I realized that I was arguing over 50 cents, I said, “Fine, ’13’ pounds.” He said, “Okay, fine. Give me your 20 pound note.” I replied with “No, 13.” We went back and forth for about 10 minutes, until finally I realized what I had done. “13” pounds was really 30 pounds, which is a ridiculous price for the taxi ride. It should only be around 10 pounds, and tourists can expect to pay around 20, but he was going to shoot for 30. Then I just stopped talking to him. I had already handed him my 20 pound note, so I just stopped talking, and he finally said, “Okay, 25 fine. 5 pound more, 25 fine.” And I still did not respond.
We got to Zamalek, and I got out of the taxi and just started walking. He already had my 20 pounds which was more than enough. He yelled out – “5 pounds more!” and I came back and said, “No. Already way too much…too much. 20 is all you get.” And I walked off….
It was fun to walk away. I thought he might come follow me, like I was warned they sometimes do, but…nope. He knew he had met his match with Adam Cleaveland. Or, he knew he already took advantage of me enough already…