Saturday, October 2, 2010

pay the cabbie the right price or take evasive maneuvers

This has just been the best weekend ever. Honestly, I got my work done, I got to be as lazy as I wanted to, and I got to hang out with my friends. I wish all my weekends could be like this.
My friend Geoff and I made plans to go visit the pyramids at Saqqara, which was an adventure, because it was the first real time I'd gone tourist-ing around Cairo without being part of a huge tour group. Both ways are fun, and both definitely have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, school tours cost more, but remove all the hassle of planning transportation and everything else.
Geoff and I caught a black taxi outside the dorms, told the driver where we wanted to go, and when he agreed, we got in the cab. We didn't bargain for a price, because it's really not necessary until the end of the ride. Plus, we'd spoken to a nice lady at the front desk who told us that a fair price to Saqqara was thirty pounds, so we figured we knew what we were doing. Haha.
First off, the taxi driver let us know that we'd have to hire him for the ride back too, because there weren't any other taxis to hail in Saqqara. This part turned out to be true, so I'm glad he mentioned it, instead of just taking our money and leaving us stranded there.
Secondly, he didn't actually know the way to the Saqqara pyramids. Go figure. No one in Egypt will ever tell you they don't know where something is. I have it on good account that if you ask an Egyptian for directions to the Egyptian consulate (which is imaginary), they will give them to you. In gloriously imaginary detail. Our cabbie pulled over a few times to ask for directions, and didn't really get much help until a nice old man came over and explained it to him. At this point, we'd been driving for an hour (the trip should have only taken half that), and we'd made 5 u-turns. U-turns in Cairo are scary. Generally they involve crossing about 3 lanes of traffic, pausing for a moment, then swinging right back out into the lanes going the other direction. Eventually we made it, though.
Our tickets into the pyramid site were 30 pounds each (yay for discount student tickets!), plus an extra 2 pounds for the taxi, don't ask me why. Our first stop was a new museum, dedicated to Imhotep, the architect who designed the step pyramid at Saqqara for the pharaoh Djoser. It was actually a nice little museum, very well laid out, and with lots of cool stuff, including Imhotep's actual wooden sarcophagus. So that was cool.
When we were done with the museum, our taxi took us up the hill to see the tombs of nobles near the step pyramid. We went inside a few, and thwarted the attempt of a man to get us to give him tips for pointing out things that were in plain sight. No, thank you, I can see it for myself.
I would have pictures of the tombs to show you, except it was at this point that my camera decided to fail me for the first time in its life. When I tried to turn it on, it beeped four times, and the message 'lens error, restart camera' appeared on the screen. Restarting didn't do anything, until Geoff suggested that maybe it needed a time out, so I left it alone for a little while.
After seeing the tombs, we visited the actual step pyramid of Djoser. It was pretty impressive.
step pyramid
scaffolding = apparently they're still working on it?
 The temples and building surrounding the pyramid area were interesting too, but we didn't have much time, so we didn't explore them as thoroughly as we might have. Here are some more pictures, though:
the fence matched the pyramid!
we stole pictures of this camel while its owner was gone.
if he'd been there, he would have made us pay for them.
guardian cobras on the temple wall
there are a lot more trees outside cairo than inside
We got back from Saqqara around 5:00, and paid our taxi driver 70 pounds, which we figured was a reasonable price, accounting for the price there and back and a little extra for the time he spent waiting around. Apparently, he disagreed, because as we headed into the dorms, he actually got out of his cab and started to follow us. We skedaddled, and I don't think he hung around for very long.
It made me feel bad, though, because I honestly think that was a fair price, especially since he got us lost. If I find out that it wasn't fair, I'll do my best to make it up to another cab driver another day.
I meant to get together with some more friends and go out to dinner, but it didn't work out, so instead I ordered in by myself. Pizza Hut delivered my small cheese pizza in about 20 minutes, and somehow their delivery guy managed to slip past me to the guard desk, even though I was sitting outside waiting for him. It worked out, though, and I even got change from him, which is practically a miracle. No one in Egypt likes to give change, which really sucks when all the ATMs here only give out 200 pound notes.
my delicious dinner
Guess how much my dinner cost me? For a Pizza Hut pizza, delivered by motor bike, in Cairo. 17 Egyptian pounds. For those of you not fluent in Egyptian currency, that's less than four dollars. Yeah, I'll probably do this again.
I don't know if you're getting sick of me posting music by the same people over and over again, but I'm not, so I'll probably continue in this vein until someone asks me to stop. That said, here's another hexachordal song, this time a cover of The Magnetic Fields' All Your Little Words:

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    Saqqara looks beautiful! Sounds like quite the adventure you had with Geoff but also a lot of fun! Btw, i agree that you paid the cabbie fairly. =)

    Keep having fun!!

    <3 ME!

    P.S Camels have funny faces....if per chance you hadn't noticed. xD