I stood in the kitchen next to a guy as we both stared at the wall waiting for the water to boil.
ME: "I probably slept four hours last night."
HIM: [laughs] "Why?"
ME: "I think I'm still jet lagged."
His name was Nail and he grew up in Berlin despite being French. He saw me reusing a teabag and offered me an instant coffee packet instead. The way to an American's heart, free coffee.
I was looking to spend a hassle and haggle-free morning at the Egyptian Museum a few blocks from me in the famous Tahir Square. After purchasing my ticket a man came up to me with a badge and asked if I wanted a guide. I didn't have the energy to say no so just shook my head. I was more hoping for an audio tour like they have at the Louvre.
NOTE TO SELF: This is not the Louvre. They had no such audio guides. And there was no A/C in the museum.
This wasn't a problem because it wasn't hot, but I assumed the pieces needed to be temperature controlled. That being said, if they can withstand sandstorms for thousands of years they can probably withstand a little bit of heat and, to my horror, people sitting on statues and taking selfies with them.
King Tut rose to power at age 9 and died at age 19, he was a popular ruler because...[a wall of noise drowns me out]. There's a group of Chinese tourists that walk in the room with the guide speaking loudly. A security guard came over and said, "China, please!" and they quieted down for 15 seconds before going back to their "inside voice".
I learned about the embalming process, elaborate several month long funerals, and that Egyptian royalty wanted to show up in the afterlife with some super gawdy gold bling. Mummy, please.
There were several mummies in the "Royal Mummy Room" and for some reason they put fake eyes inside the non-famous mummies.
I enjoyed the break but in the afternoon went for a nap and to write a little bit.
Around mid-afternoon I wandered out to try the Egyptian favorite of Koshary.
It was originally a peasant's meal as it's essentially all carbs. It's a mix of rice, lentils, macaroni, and pasta topped with chickpeas, crunchy onions, and tomato sauce. It's like something a hungover vegetarian would make and it's delicious. The crunchy onions are the key.
Whenever I'm traveling I like to get my hair cut in foreign countries. I found an old barber shop across from a mosque and the man looked at me as I came in. They always do this probably thinking two things:
1. Is he from here?
2. How much shorter does he want his hair?
I found that the most disarming thing you can do to a stranger is wave at them so I did and he smiled and offered me a chair to wait while he finished using a straight razor on a man's face.
The shop was decorated with dusty radios, books in arabic, piles of human hair, and water bottles of piss which I assume is to ward off cats.
He began to thread the hair off the man's ears and would occasionally look up and his old eyes would watch everything going on in the street.
When my haircut was done, I tipped for his kindness despite the terrible job. I didn't factor in that his clippers would be about as old as the Sphinx so they hardly worked on my hair.
Back at my hostel, I saw a girl walking to the second floor and she struck me immediately. Raven hair and a skirt and stockings. This didn't fit the weather, so she must have just checked in.
I was right. She had occupied the room next to me.
ME: Was my music too loud earlier?
HER: Huh? Oh no I did not hear anything.
I could tell immediately from her accent that she was French. Of course.
We chatted a bit while sitting on our "doorsteps". Hélène was in town do a photography project on Egyptian weddings. She had been living in Karnak for a few months and was now returning to Egypt after holiday in France.
After several more lines of dialogue I brought her to Felufel to pick her up some food and on the way back we stop at the liquor store called "Drinkies" for a few Stellas. We sat on the rooftop of our hostel with the Cairo tower and dome of the Egyptian museum as our backdrop. I offered some beer to my two German friends nearby and they declined so it left her and I to chat some more.
At some point a guy in a fedora, tank top, and several brightly colored night club bracelets walked by and said, "Hey guys." Obviously American I asked if he wanted to join us, and Utah from New York did just that. Utah had an odd twitch to him and he almost seemed like he was trying to impress the world with how relaxed he was. He quit his job in finance and had been traveling the world for many months.
We were having one of those great conversations about travel when somehow the topic of dating came up. Hélène revealed that she had an Italian boyfriend and Utah then said, "Fuck, I'm out" and slapped me on the knee like I was in on some joke.
Despite this crushing news to Utah, he decided to stay. He then tried to not so subtly dissuade her of her long distance relationship. I could tell Hélène wanted an out so I gave her one and she took it. We met back at our rooms a few minutes later and laughed.
Hélène and I exchanged information and she offered me to meet her in Alexandria next year for her next photo project and I told her to look me up when she gets to LA.
I was off to the airport.
For some reason I thought it was a good idea to take a 2:30 AM flight. I passed through security and customs with only a medium amount of Egyptian hassle and laid down on a sofa waiting for my flight to arrive.
In a few hours I would be in a new country.