A job in the Red Sea led me to a camel ride in Hurghada. What an incredible place, despite there being nobody around. This is simply about the wrong timing, as the time I was there, was about 2 months after the revolution in Egypt. Everyone had disappeared from the area.
I didn’t feel at all threatened, or that something was going to happen. Quite the opposite in fact. I had a great time considering I was alone, but this is what this post is about.
Job cut short
I was based offshore on a drill ship in the Red Sea. The work that I was out to do, was mainly the work at height, so when that was complete, I was called off this ship so I could go to the next. My team stayed behind and I left alone.
The good thing about my early demobilization was that it was Friday morning and I was only flying out of Egypt on Saturday late morning. So I had a bit of time. The driver that collected my at the airport was very friendly and I got a great introduction to Hurghada from him.
I asked my driver, how much would it cost for a taxi to take me around Hurghada, so I could do a bit of sightseeing. He said he would be happy to do that for free. Over the course of my life, I have come to realize that very little in life is free. There is always a catch. There was with this guy, but it wasn’t money. (keep reading).
He asked what time I would want to go out and I said around 19:30 after I had eaten something and showered.
Situated right on the Red Sea, my hotel was a perfect end to my short but interesting 2 weeks at sea. Once I had got to my room and seen my view over the Red Sea, it was time to head to the bar and have a well deserved beer.
The barman asked if I wanted my beer on the beach, to which I replied, “I believe it would be a crime not to, my good man!”. So out I went, waiter in tow. Probably could of just carried the beer myself, but he seemed more than capable (not to mention willing).
I arrived at my destination and he placed the beer on my table. Without hesitating he walked away. I tried to stop him and tip him, but I didn’t want to spill my beer. Perhaps he would swing by later and I could give him a bit extra.
Beer finished and I decided to go for a stroll. There was literally myself and 2 other people on the beach. The revolution really did takes its toll.
On the way back to my room, I was confronted by a promotion girl handing out flyers for a party at the hotel night club. “Well there was something to look forward to right there!”.
So I went to my room, had a shower and proceeded to make my way to the restaurant. When I got there, I ordered another drink and my food. While I was waiting for my food, I got chatting to the barman and asked if there was any place he would recommend I visit it the town.
Once I was done, I made my way to the front of the hotel to wait for my driver. I found him to be waiting for me.
Visiting the city of Hurghada
I gave my driver the suggestions the barman had given me in the hope he would know where they were. He did, and he took me there. But he did warn me that there would be nothing to see, or nobody around and he was right.
So I said I would like to go for a beer at an authentic place with local music and entertainment. He said he knew just the place. It was a great establishment, situated on top of a cliff overlooking the sea. Pity it was dark.
I asked my driver what he would like to drink and he tole me that he didn’t drink alcohol. Which made me wonder if he did drink it, would he be drinking with me, then driving me around? He settled for a tea and I ordered a local beer. Then it began. His phone calls.
As it turns out, my driver was quite the ladies man and had two wives and a girlfriend. He was on the phone non stop with his two wives. Not just conversations, but arguments as well. What were they arguing about? Why he wasn’t with them that night? He told me this (in between his apologies to me for being on the phone) after the first phone call.
Now I’m wondering, what excuse would he have used, if I wasn’t there. I’ve become a scapegoat all of a sudden. Then it dawned on me why he volunteered to drive me around for FREE! I would much rather have paid the man and have him sit quietly, than get chauffeured around and be subjected to two very heated conversations in Arabic.
My camel ride in Hurghada
So as the night went on, I decided it was time to head back to the hotel (had a party at the hotel remember). On the way back I saw a man walking with a camel. I jokingly said to the driver, that I fancied a ride on one of them. Next thing the car came to an abrupt right next to the man with his camel.
A few words were tossed about between my driver and the owner of the camel and the next thing I new there was a camel on it’s knees in front of me. Oh s**t! Now what.
I asked the man how much and he said that I would pay at the end. If ever I’ve walked into a setup, it was now! Anyway I had spent way less than I was prepared to on my night time excursions, so what the heck. Let’s just go for it!
I climbed into the saddle and was told to hold on tight, as the camel raises its back legs first. Remember this the next time you decide to go camel riding, as I almost fell over its head. Anyway, the camel was standing and I was clinging, but we moved forward nevertheless.
The owner of the camel led me all the way down the road, with my driver creeping behind us in the car. He walked me for bloody ages. I figured this guy must charge people per metre for riding his camel and judging by the distance we had walked already, I was going to be out of pocket.
Then I looked behind me and found that there was a horse tied to the camel, who was also walking down the road. “See….if this man charges me for the horse too, there is going to be a problem!”. Why not just attach Old McDonalds farm to the back of this camel and let’s all have a blast?
Here comes the bill
Finally the owner of the camel came to a stop and I got off. My driver pulled up alongside us and I asked to ask the owner how much I owed him. After a few words in Arabic, my driver told me that I owed him, what worked out to the equivalent of $5 US.
“Was that all?”, I asked my driver. He replied that it was. I then asked how many people he had taken for a ride before me and the answer he came back with was none. I was his only customer. So I gave the owner $20. The owner wouldn’t accept it. I asked the driver why he wouldn’t and the driver informed me that it was $5. I said I understood that, but I was giving him more as he didn’t have to take me that far.
You know what the owner said next? “It is only $5. I don’t want people to think I am too expensive, as this is the only source of income I have”. “No my friend, right now I am your only source of income and I’m giving you $20”. After a lengthy explanation (kindly translated by my driver of course) and a lot of convincing, the owner thanked me graciously for the extra money I had given him. Then tried to sell me another ride…go figure.
The hotel party
My driver took me back to the hotel, where I headed straight for the nightclub. “What a great night it has been so far”, I thought to myself. Now let’s end it with a bit of a party.
Okay so where is everyone? I’ll order a beer and wait some more. After an hr I asked the barman if there was a party in here tonight. He replied, “Those flyers get handed out by the promo girls because it’s there job. There is nobody in this city anymore. It is their job to promote a party that will never happen”.
I went to bed and cried myself to sleep.