"Wait!" says Aaron, holding up his hand "wait for the first wave to go through to occupy them!"
"Yes, hold back hold back!" urges Mark, catching onto the idea
"They're actually lining up waiting for us!" I observe. Across the exit from the Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor trinket peddlers have formed a line, cheap chinese made goods in hand, waiting to assault the tourists disembarking the shuttle tram.
Even waiting for the first wave of tourists to go in we were still immediately assaulted as soon as we entered the gauntlet. People trying to shove wares into our hands, tie turbans onto our heads, step in front of us. Our travel companion Tonja, being as they say "african-american" and wearing a headscarf was actually assaulted even more, we think because the guys wanted to hit on her. Christina kept switching which side of Tonja she was walking on to stay between her more persistant suitors.
When our friend Aaron is not with the rest of us he is invisible to the peddlers because he looks middle eastern and therefore they assume he's local. On the flipside however if he tries to talk to tourists they automatically ignore him, assuming he's trying to sell them something.
Saturday night I went out to the bars with my local friend Michael. To get back to my hotel he hailed me a cab and talked to the driver and said it would be 15 pounds (about 3.50 USD), I got in and as we pulled away I ask the driver "15 pounds right?" and he says "15 dollars!" ... which is a preposterous rate around here. Fortunately Michael called me back while I was in the taxi (apparently specifically because he was afraid the driver would try to scam me) and as soon as I started to complain to him the driver said "15 pounds 15 pounds!"
Monday (yesterday) Mark and I went scuba diving during the day. That night Michael took us (our entire group - Aaron, Christine, Tonja, Mark and I) to an actual Egyptian restaurant (ie one locals actually eat at and consider good, as opposed to the shitty tourist ones that are hard to get away from when you're a tourist), it was far and away the best food we've had there and cost 1/10th as much as the crappy food at the hotel restaurant.
Then the girls went home and we met up with some friends of Michaels and went to a local club. Our group was a total of nine people and we had a great time. It was awesome to feel like we were actually experiencing the local experience .. with locals!
To get back to the hotel we managed to cram all of us into a normal sedan taxi. Plus the driver that makes 10 people!!
Today Mark and I went scuba diving during the day again. The reefs here are beautiful.
Tonight we're planning on going out with Michael and friends again, even though we have a 3am bus to catch to get to Cairo. That just means we have to aim to be back at the hotel by 2!
Presently I stopped by Michael's shop after getting back from diving, and he's letting me use his computer. Admittedly when I first got to this town I thought it seemed like kind of a shitty place filled with scammers and dirt. Between diving and windsurfing and such on the one hand and hanging out every evening with locals though I'm actually sad to be leaving so soon and feeling like I'm going to miss the place.