Cairo Airport & Getting to Nairobi
Today we wandered around the city doing some errands we needed to do before heading into Sub-Saharan Africa. We were on a quest for a sink plug today (which are amazingly hard to find in Cairo). We only got one after I played a demented version of Pictionary with the Egyptian shopkeepers in an attempt to show them what I wanted to buy. From there (that took us until after lunch) we went to the main post office so Rich could mail some stuff home. After a very long and involved process of buying the forms, getting the customs agent to approve the export of said goods and buying the postage we finally left the post office an hour or so later.
We had one final walk around town and stopped into a supermarket to buy a few things before leaving. Now, Rich and I were sick of being screwed for the prices so we’d taken the time to learn the Arabic numbers so we’d know if we were being screwed. We popped into this high class supermarket and picked up a few things. When we went to pay the checker didn’t ring any of the items in, she just pointed to the total of the previous customer and told us to pay that amount. Rich got totally pissed off, grabbed the pen out of her hand and wrote, in Arabic numbers the amount of each item, then totaled it for her to show her what the correct total should be. She was a bit sheepish and accepted the total Rich had put together for us. I think that became one of the most frustrating things whole on the road – trying not to get screwed out of extra cash for everything. Sure, sometimes you over pay and you don’t mind, but travelers become nit picky with the prices when it’s happening every day in every country. maybe that’s one of the reasons some travelers have such a bad reputation in certain countries; they were trying not to be reamed by the local merchants.
We headed out to the airport and hung out in the waiting area until they’d let us clear immigration and sit in the departure lounge for our late evening flight to Nairobi, Kenya. We sat in the departure area, and we had a couple of hours to wait until the flight had to leave. Rich wandered over to the Duty Free and returned with a bottle of Johnnie Walker. He sat down at the table and the two of us started taking swigs off the bottle. At a couple of tables over there was this Western couple who appeared to be our age, so I walked over there and invited them over for a drink or two. Their names were Cameron and Tracey, both from Auckland, New Zealand. It turns out they were on the same flight to Nairobi as us and were about to cruise around East Africa as well. We sat there chatting to them, drinking off the bottle when this little Egyptian man, an airport worker in charge of cleaning the tables, came over and told us we couldn’t drink the bottle in the lounge.
Rich had had E£2.60 (US$.83) all the Egyptian money he had left and put it into the man’s front pocket. At that the man silently walked away to leave us to our drinking. He returned a few minutes later with a bucket of ice and four cups so we could have proper cocktails. Four Johnnie Walkers and Sprite please. Plus, during the course of the next couple of hours whenever our ice cups were empty the Egyptian man would appear out of nowhere and restock them with ice. The four of us sat there talking and getting quite drunk. It was a very long time later, for we’d been ignoring the airport announcements, until one of the airport officials came over to us and asked, “Nairobi?” We said yes and the official told us to follow him – quickly – because the flight was waiting for us! We went running to the bus to go out to the tarmac, and as we were running past the final immigration officer Rich accidentally dropped a bottle of water, which exploded at the officer’s feet. Jumped over the puddle and ran onto the bus that was waiting to shuttle us out to the plane.
We were absolutely the last people to board our flight. Once we’d sat down the plane pulled away and we were off to Kenya. The flight was only half full so each of us thought the minute the seatbelt sign went off we’d get up and each claim a row so we’d be able to sleep all the way to Nairobi. The flight took off, and not 50 seconds into the flight, while the plane was still accelerating and pulling up, the seatbelt sign went off. We were all a little intoxicated at this point so Rich and I jumped out of our seats, and I must have taken about three steps and I was about fifteen rows from where I had started. We each acquired our own row, then had a few more drinks before going to bed for the night.