Crazy, crazy Egypt.
Chaotic, loud, intimidating and inspiring.
The harsh sunlight pummels the dusty streets, where poor and rich alike, sweep the desert sands out of one crevice and into another.
So my friends might be under the impression that I did not enjoy my short stay in Egypt. This is not true, sure I was angry, but Egypt is a place simultaneously disagreeable and beautiful and I want the chance to explain myself.
Travelling by myself in the country made me a spectacle. The blonde hair, the foreign face and being alone caused many men to stare and comment at me in a disparaging way. I felt intimidated and harassed, but that was not the reason for my angry facebook rant, it was a particular situation.
So under these glorious photos of an (EMPTY) major tourist destination, I will explain what happened.
A man at the hotel asks me my plans for the day and gives me some cheese and olives (welcomed, as the breakfast at the budget inn was truly bad), I tell him I am off to the pyramids in Giza and he says “oh me too! Want a lift?”
Hesitantly I say yes (after some convincing of course). Turns out his brother is coming too, I don’t know this as he just gets into the car. In the car we get lost three times, it takes hours to get to Giza from Cairo and I am very nervous. The two guys are much older and intense, they keep asking me to help them get American papers (I explain I am Australian, then they change it to Australian papers).
They feel that because I accepted the lift, we have entered a transaction whereby I owe them and need to help them get Australian residence (like I have the power to make this happen anyway).
I keep telling them they have to apply through the Government and I have no power to make this happen, and they decide I should marry the brother, and start saying things to me in Arabic that I presume are lovey or dirty. I presume this from they way they wink, rub my shoulders and laugh. Plus I can understand ‘sweetie’ and ‘I love you’ in Arabic.
I decide to ditch them as soon as we get to the pyramids.
When I tell them I would like to be alone they get very angry and say I owe them. A large group of English tourists defend me and a fight almost ensures, but I end up throwing money at the two men and they leave me alone. This is after some hours or so of following and yelling. The English tourists treat me to a tour, lunch and a lift back to the hotel. I am very apologetic, but they love that they ‘saved’ a damsel in distress.
The hotel staff find out what happened, as I ask if the men have checked out, I don’t want to see them again. Later a young staff member knocks on my hotel room door with a can of coke.
“This if to say sorry for what happened to you today,” he says.
“Oh, thanks,” I take the coke.
ANOTHER MISTAKE – (this is where the actual story starts by the way)
He knocks again an hour later and asks to speak with me in the office. He wants me to write a letter to other female solo tourists who might stay at the hotel, about safety and not accepting lifts, gifts etc.
We are talking for a while. I write a small passage about how accepting lifts can cause problems. That by accepting things from Egyptian men, they will expect something in return. He wants to keep me there and keeps asking questions and telling me about himself.
He’s really nice and I am relieved to meet someone I can talk to, even though I’m a bit exhausted, I decide to stay and chat for a while.
He tells me how he likes motorbikes and massage. He likes to give massages, receive massages, conversation moves on to pleasing women, then foreplay, then before I know it, he is telling me how he likes to finger women and make them cum, he grabs my hands on the table and tells me he loves anal, and that women love it too. He pushes my fingers into a circle and starts dipping his finger through it saying anal is much tighter then pussy and much better.
“Are you horny?” he asks “I am! Can I kiss you?”
“Ok,” I say. ” We’re done here.”
I pull my hands away from him and get the hell outta there. I mean c’mon, we were there to discuss harassment! It’s so moronic, If i didn’t feel so terrible I could laugh, but there is this pervading nothingness filling me up inside and I can’t even speak.
I go back to me room and slam the door.
I feel like everyone is out to get me.
He chases after me and continues to knock for furiously at the door, leaving and coming back, begging me to open the door.
Then he calls the room phone over and over all night. Somehow I don’t think to take it off the hook.
I put headphones on to drown out the noise (Kate Bush “Hounds of Love”).
I try to draw in my journal, and pretend I am not alone in a country where I seem to be seen as a massive whore, and alone in a room where three men in the same building have made me feel exceptionally uncomfortable and intimidated.
I really just cannot comprehend what I have done wrong.
The young man surely has a spare key to my room.
I just stare at the wall for hours as the phone continues to ring and in between ringing there are knocks at the door. I am waiting for the handle to open.
At one point he pushes the piece of paper I wrote my warning on, under the door.
Finally my need to pee forces me out of the room. It has been quiet for a while, so I take the chance. On my way back from the toilet, he is waiting outside my door. He asks for the piece of paper back, he needs my warning to lone female travellers he says.
To get me to write a warning to solo travellers about harassment, and give it to a man who has just harassed me, I am bitterly laughing to myself. Ok, If that is what you want, here is a warning to female solo travellers, from bitter experience.
I go back inside and the room and scrawl on the paper in capitals:
“DON’T TRUST ANYBODY! ESPECIALLY NOT THE PEOPLE WHO WORK AT YOUR HOTEL!!”
and shove it back under the door.
I will definitely go back to Egypt.
Egypt is AMAZING.
Just not alone…