Day 2, Sara Passes Out…Cold

Our second day in Cairo started poorly almost from the time we awoke.  Sara had developed a case of 'King Tut's Revenge' during the night and it was hitting her pretty hard.  It was so bad that we did not think a full day on the Giza plateau would be very smart, especially since the temperature was forecast to be over 100 degrees and there is no shade there.  We had four days scheduled for Cairo, so we figured we would postpone the pyramids a day and spend this one in relative comfort.

Instead, we thought we would try to go get a student ID so all of the sites would be discounted.  We had read that almost every museum and historic site throughout Egypt was half price for students, so before we left San Diego, we paid a visit to a local free Continuing Education school and got student IDs.  The office that would give us the official Student Card was a few miles from our hotel.  Sara was feeling better, so we decided to walk.  After about 45 minutes, we decided that we were lost and needed directions.  We found a nice Egyptian lady who spoke broken English and she explained to us that we were still miles from our destination and needed to find a taxi.

The taxi dropped us in front of the office building and we climbed to the second floor to get our cards.  Sara was now feeling a little woozy, but we were here so all was well.  Except that they would not accept our Student Cards without some more official documentation.  I guess others have tried this before.  We decided to move on and Sara scanned the guidebook for any nearby sites.  Within a mile or so was a Nilometer that was recommended viewing.

The Egyptians had an efficient way to levy taxes:  the Nilometer.  Taxes in ancient Egypt were based on crops and what people paid was based on the height of the river during the peak of the flood.  It seems that the pharaoh did not entirely trust his people to be honest with the amount of their crops.  Instead of basing taxes on what the people were able to grow, he based it on what they should be able to grow with the amount of flooding that occurred that year.  We set out to see this semi-famous landmark.

We actually made it to within sight of the Nilometer when Sara announced that she really was not feeling well and we needed to find a taxi.  No problem, there are hundreds of them, so we made our way to the nearest busy street.  Only, we had come to an area that was not really frequented by taxis.  Sara sat down while I attempted to flag one down.  After several minutes, one stopped for us and for some reason I decided I was tired of being taken advantage of by the locals.  His price of 20 Egyptian pounds ($3.50) to get back to the hotel was entirely too high.  I pressed for 10 pounds.  He was stubborn, so we argued back and forth, neither of us budging.  I looked back at Sara, thinking how proud she was going to be for my superior negotiating skills and noticed that she was now sprawled out on the ground.  She was still conscious at this point, though, and managed to mumble something like, "Just give him the f***ing 20 pounds, I'm dying here."

Such a potty mouth.

We got in the cab and I told the driver the name of our hotel.  He drove in the direction that I pointed.  I have mentioned before, I think, that Sara and I like to travel frugally.  Therefore, our hotel was one of the lesser known ones in Cairo.  In fact, we never really found anyone who had ever heard of it.  Consequently, I had to look in the guidebook for the name of a nearby square and gave the name to the driver:  Midan Falaki.  He responded in Arabic, "Aiwa, Midan Falaki."  Not knowing what he was saying, I responded, "Midan Falaki."  To which he replied, "Aiwa, Midan Falaki."  I repeated, "Midan Falaki" garnering the same response from him.  After three or four more go rounds of this exact exchange, Sara, who had her head in my lap, slurred, "Aiwa means 'yes' in Arabic, dumb ass.  He knows where to go."

Who knew I married such a potty mouth.

Well, my directions, because of one way streets, brought us exactly two blocks from the hotel.  I figured we could easily walk from here, so we stopped, I paid the man his 20 pounds (grumble, grumble) and we got out.  Sara immediately plopped on the street.  "OK, we have to walk now."  How far?  "Two blocks."  She stood up and luckily I was paying attention, because I was able to catch her as she collapsed.  I tried to wrap her arm around my shoulder and have her walk with me, only to find that she was out...cold.  In the Navy I had been trained to carry unconscious people very efficiently.  I forgot all about this and picked her up using the famous 'crossing the threshold after the honeymoon' style that one sees in the movies.  She only weighs 100 pounds, how hard could it be?

It seems that my level of fitness is much less than my self-perceived level of fitness.  After one block I was huffing and puffing.  One of the locals offered me a chair for Sara and I managed to get her in it without dropping her.  Another local brought up a half full Sprite bottle with who knows what inside.  I politely refused his offer and brought out my own water bottle.  A lady helped by splashing water on Sara's face.  During all of this, I also noticed that while wanting to help, none of the men were actually willing to touch her, only the woman seemed able to make physical contact.  After a minute of two, I thanked them and picked her up for the final push to the hotel.

I should note that our hotel was actually just a single floor (the twelfth to be exact) in a twelve story building, with a single four-person elevator.  Up until this point, every time we needed to go up to our hotel, we were the only ones in the lobby.  As I climbed the steps to the lobby, with Sara cradled in my arms, I couldn't believe my eyes.  There were at least 20 people waiting to go up our elevator.  I sat Sara down again on a chair in the lobby.  The elevator was upstairs at this point, but I made eye contact with the person in the front of the line and made it clear that I was getting on the next trip, like it or not.  About this time, another good Samaritan lady somehow reached around me and sprayed Sara up the nose with perfume.  This did have the effect of waking her up (I'll leave out the expletives here), but she quickly was out again.

We finally reached the top floor and as soon as I walked in carrying Sara, the owner of the hotel took over.  He ordered sugar water from the kitchen, got our room door open and the air conditioning cranked up.  He really knew what to do and within  minutes Sara was noticeably improved.

Needless to say, we stayed in the hotel the rest of the day and by morning, Sara felt great.  Looks like we could make the pyramids after all.  Also, looks like we are getting ready to be scammed by the locals again, but that is for our next post...

  • Doris

    How funny and scary! It sounds like you handled it with grace and charm. Is Sara really ok? Was she just exhausted? I look forward to your next blog!

  • Buck

    Phil, well written, I don’t remember you being so funny. Just kidding. Hope Sara is better and you turn everyone into a potty mouth. Have a good trip, I’ll be checking in. Maybe you guys could sell raffle tickets for a little extra cash?

  • Elizabeth Simms

    Somehow I just can’t believe that Sara, my dear, sweet, adorable Sara, is a potty mouth……well, I laughed until I almost wet my frilly, lacy underwear!

  • Flip

    HAHAHAHA. I forgot about the raffle tickets. That would be an interesting future post, although they might come and arrest us.

  • Bobby

    I am really enjoying reading about your trip, Phil! Even though I should be working…LOL!

  • Cita Walsh

    Phil, you are a great storyteller. And Sara is providing you with great content! Glad she’s ok.

  • Geri

    Just had a chance to start reading this, and you are very thorough in your re-enactment. You have a second career on the horizon as a writer. What a horrible experience for Sara! I look forward to another chapter tomorrow.

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