Bad For Dentist

Trip Start May 07, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Wednesday, November 9, 2005

We heard that Luxor was more touristy than Cairo so we expected it to be a bit cleaner and a bit more plasticy. We were very wrong.

The train station in Cairo wasn't much different from a station in a moderately large dirty town in Europe. The station in Luxor looked like it had been abandoned. Everything was covered in sand and there was litter everywhere. We were tired and just blindly followed everyone to get out. Of course we were met by desperate taxi drivers but our practice in Cairo helped us get through them.

"Taxi?" -- "No"
"Where you go?" -- "Meeting a friend"
"Come to my hotel. Best hotel." -- "No. Meeting a friend"
"You know the price? Very cheap" -- "Meeting a friend. Go away."

He would go away and the next one would start in. I just want to know what they are thinking. A dour looking person walking purposefully (not just clueless) and turning down all taxi drivers. Why does the next taxi driver think he will be the one to score the ride? I guess it's like in the movies when the hero beats up five thugs in a row but the six thug still goes in for his turn. The real surprise was how much we got hassled once we found Mara. She actually got into a brief arguement with a taxi driver. We had told him to go away but he wouldn't and she told him we were with her but the driver was telling her that he still wanted to talk to us.

Mara got us home. It was about 5:50am and none of us had gotten much sleep so we all went to bed to talk later. We were sharing the apartment with two travellers from Alaska, Ryan and Holly. A few days previous when Mara mentioned she had two guests from Alaska it set off warning bells. Alaska seems to be a common place that Egyptian touts have "friends". We met Holly and Ryan and they really are from Alaska. They had been with Mara for a few days and were ready to have help teaching the class. The arrangement we had with Mara was that we would help her teach English to children and she would let us stay in one of her vacant apartments.

The class was total chaos. None of us had any real teaching experience and there was no lesson plan or anything like that. There was the vague idea that we would sing nursery rhymes or something. The class was more popular than Mara expect and she split it into two, older (over 10 years) and younger. On the second day Kim had the brilliant idea to teach them yoga. It was great. The kids were engaged and disciplined and loved it. It wasn't exactly teaching them English but Mara explained that the schools here are awful and kids don't learn simple problem solving and they don't have confidence so having them do anything where they can succeed and be praised is good.

We left for Thanksgiving and will return but during the week we were there we did two sightseeing things. The first was Luxor temple. It is amazing to see this ancient monument in the middle of the city. It was like being in Rome but older and poorer. The second was the lightshow at Karnak temple. It was cheesy but worth seeing this amazing temple complex at night. It wasn't as interesting as the lightshow at the sphinx but we got to walk around and see more.

In Egypt people have learned enough English to say "hello" or "welcome to Egypt" but it is in a strange monotone and they don't expect an answer. We heard all sorts of odd greetings like that. Another common one when walking with Kim was people telling me, "you're a lucky man". One time Kim and Holly were walking together and a man did a double-take and said, "Oh my god! Welcome to Luxor". The strangest comment we heard was when we were eating ice cream and a man said in that robotic monotone, "that is bad for dentist". Bad for dentist?! I couldn't stop laughing for 15 minutes. Most people try to convince us to buy something or help with something but this man just wanted to impart a bit of dental wisdom.
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