Sunday, July 31, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Females Beware of Ramadan

Taken last year as some friends and I headed down to the Marriott during Ramadan
A word to the wise: females, be on your guard as Ramadan gets underway and harassment heightens. As the Muslim holy month kicks off (August 1), women need to be more cautious during this time, particularly around Iftar (first meal breaking the fast).

I’ve always noticed the increased harassment during this month (sounds unbelievable given how much harassment already exists). However, what I began noticing in 2009 was that the worst time for the potential grope is during Iftar. Why? Everyone is in their homes eating and talking loudly with the streets nearly empty. If someone grabs you, chances are that no one will be around to come to your rescue.

Naturally one of the greatest pieces of advice to try and combat this is to dress more conservatively. And yet again I’m going to say that while you should keep your shoulders and legs covered, it doesn’t stop it entirely. If you’re alone on the streets, men will see it as an opportunity and they’ll excuse it because after all, it’s your fault you were born with a vagina. So while I will give the standard advice of dressing more conservatively, I will also add that you should be very aware of your surroundings during this time. Do not trust men walking up to you asking some “innocent” question like, “Do you have the time?” They will grab. Ignore them all. Nine times out of 10, these men are up to no good.

Play frogger in the streets. If you see a male walking toward you (age is of no concern), cross instantly and do not make eye contact. If they cross as well, you cross back, etc. If you’re like me and walk around with your headphones on, make sure that you keep your headphones in your ears but without playing music. This will allow you to ignore anyone if approached, but will permit you to hear if someone is walking up behind you.

Each year, I’ve faced problems during Iftar. One year (and also written in detail in a previous blog post) my friend’s car broke down during Iftar and this man who appeared to try to help us completely took advantage of the situation and groped her. Last year around the same time while everyone was inside eating, two boys came from behind me and also took their chance. And for those of you new on the scene, the police do it as well.

I know for some of you reading this, you may not think a grab is that big of a deal. And it may sound strange for someone to be so upset over such a “small” thing. Yes life goes on, but the point is, no one has the right to touch you inappropriately without your consent and it makes you feel horrible despite knowing that it wasn’t your fault.

My first Ramadan was miserable, but the longer I stay here, the more enjoyable they become. I’ve previously written an Expat’s Guide to Ramadan which offers some ideas of things that you may do during this time. As always remember, life is what you make of it.

Previous Ramadan Posts:

A Foreigner’s Guide to Ramadan, August 11, 2010
Ramadan Kareem & Carrefour, September 7, 2009
Harassed? Ma3lesh (Whatever), August 31, 2009
Sounds of Ramadan, September 17, 2008

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Letters from Egypt: A Love Story

Teary-eyed Anthony talking about how he met his soon-to-be wife
My blog has introduced me to a lot of people, and one of those people happen to be Anthony. Born in the UK, I met Anthony prior to his arrival to Egypt after he stumbled upon my blog.

In the beginning I warned him of the dating scene here, both expats and locals (more so the locals). And trust me, this guy had some heavy-handed passport hunters chasing after him like no tomorrow. While we didn’t fall completely out of touch, it did surprise me to see nearly two years later Anthony’s Facebook relationship status change to Engaged.

We met up this week for dinner to catch up and I asked him the number one question you should ask anyone: at what moment did you know she was ‘the one’? Sure that’s a loaded question and I don’t want to hear, “…she’s kind, loves children, etc.” I want to know at what point was it, what did she do, that made you say, “I’m going to marry this woman.”

And so he began describing how he met Natalie and asked her out. She responded, “Okay, but don’t ask me what I want to do, you decide and if I like it, I’ll go on a second date with you.” I love it and Natalie, I’m totally using it! Apparently she liked his decision because after the second date, they were nearly inseparable. She was going out of town for the weekend and Anthony was driving her to the airport. He turned and said, “So how long do you plan on staying in Egypt?” She responded, “I’m actually leaving in a couple of weeks.”

Anthony told me that he instantly pulled the car over. He said, “I felt gutted.” He then told her that she just couldn’t leave. The sweetest part to this story was how when he got to this, he teared up. And here’s a secret, so did I. I never would have expected Anthony to have been so romantic or so emotional. We all wish for this to happen: meet the person of your dreams and have so much emotion that you can’t help – no matter how tough you are – tear up at the thought of losing them.

Living in Egypt, you grow hopeless when it comes to relationships. From my own personal experience, I find it hard to trust anyone. Most of the men that are decent prospects are married, but they might avoid letting you in on that secret. Many of them, local and foreign, cheat constantly. And more so, with such a transient lifestyle, you find it difficult to connect to someone when you know it’s only a matter of time before one of you leaves. However, hearing Anthony’s story and feeling the emotion that he had behind it was a nice little reminder that it can exist.

Anthony and Natalie will be getting married in October in Natalie’s native Australia. I wish the best of them and I’m looking forward to meeting her soon. I don’t think when Anthony moved here that he thought he would ever enjoy it as much as he appears to have done thus far or ever meet “the one.” I wish the best of luck to you both and Anthony, thanks for giving me a reminder that there’s still hope.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Visa Renewal and Reporting 101

Everyone makes mistakes, even journalists
Thanks to a reader, I was directed to a blog article from the Luxor Times Magazine titled “The Ugly Destructive Face of Media… AnInsight on the Visa Situation.” This bimonthly magazine created a blog in order to keep readers in-the-know between print publications with this particular entry claiming that media reports about visa denials were untrue and the disturbance in the expat community as a result.

It said, “Those sites based their reports on personal [stories] of [a] maximum of four individuals and to make it look important and big exposure that no other media source but them managed to find that fact, they used fancy expressions like ‘Cracking down on visas’ or ‘simply cut [the expat community] off is kind of worrisome.’”

It said that articles like this shouldn’t be dubbed news and even proceeded to give the definition of the term saying, “News means something happened but when it is a case of few individuals and the editors didn’t even try to get to the source or the responsible official to check if that information is true or not.” Then it combated the use of the source from the Ministry of Tourism saying that it has nothing to do with issuing visas to foreigners.

First of all Luxor Times, I have to question what kind of news reporting you are doing. The standard rule for journalism is that you must include no less than two sources per article. The use of four sources in one article well suffices the requirement. Second, the Ministry of Tourism has everything in the world to do with the issuance of…wait for it…wait for it…tourism visas. And third of all, with it’s the backlash over these “unqualified” sources, not once did the Luxor Times Magazine use ONE source.

It said that articles like these only aimed to increase web traffic and added, “Freedom of press comes with [the] responsibility and requires maintaining a high level of integrity otherwise the media will lose its credibility.” I couldn’t agree more. So Luxor Times, perhaps it’s time that you take your own advice and check into the story yourself instead of ending this entry with “…or if Luxor Times information is not correct please pay a visit to the passport office and get back to us.”

What’s most worrisome is that I tried to post a comment on the blog entry to point out these discrepancies. A comment was posted on the story saying thanks and requesting the magazine urge Egypt Today to correct its story in print. Talk about the destructive face of media – someone apparently gives the Luxor Times Magazine too much credit when it has yet to adhere to the journalism standards that it claims to uphold. And yet, my comment has yet to be approved for posting.

In conclusion, I will admit that perhaps these news articles listed in places like Bikya Masr need further research. I believe that a clarification should be made. Tourism visas are only being extended three months at a time; however, work visas for foreigners are being declined in greater numbers. If the Luxor Times Magazine would like sources on this, I can give them five right now, but it will be forced to call three sources in Germany since they were forced to leave after having their visas denied. I can also give them two other Americans in my building that just graduated from the American University in Cairo. These two have been in Cairo for a little over a year and were denied extensions. I can also provide an Egyptian source that helps foreigners expedite their visa process whom will also confirm that visas are more difficult to obtain in the present situation.

So again, I want to say that everyone makes mistakes - even journalists. Don't take everything you see and/or read to be fact. If unsure about the information reported, please research the matter yourself. Unfortunately journalism has shifted away from its humble beginnings. My blog cannot be considered journalism because it is my life, personal accounts and opinion. News isn't always entertaining and entertainment isn't always news, nor should a true journalist include his/her opinion in stories. News is, after all, supposed to remain unbiased unless appearing in the Op-Ed section.

Coming soon…

Monday, July 18, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Pushing Foreigners out in Media Retaliation

While the UN will undoubtedly push for international observers in Egypt’s upcoming election, could the country be denying foreign visa extensions as its own retaliation over media coverage during the revolution?

It’s a theory and not too outlandish of one, even Egyptians are contemplating this as the main reason for denying visas.

I went to the Mogamma today, which for those of you that don’t know, is located in the heart of Tahrir Square. What a show this so-called Liberation Square is… Unfortunately I can’t bring a camera into the Mogamma, but let me just tell you, Tahrir Square is full of people that:

  • Don’t want to work
  • Venders taking advantage of the heat, ie thirst and hunger
  • Beggars

That’s a wrap folks.

And with all the security issues, you would think the Mogamma (place for visas) would have tougher security. Wrong. I opened my purse and the woman said, “Do you have a camera?” I said, “No.” And without looking through my purse, I passed through. A second security checkpoint is upstairs with an actual conveyor belt to scan purses with a metal detector (the front of the building usually has this as well, but those machines were missing. What was the person monitoring the metal detector and scanner doing? Joking and grabbing tea from a colleague.

When you go for your visa, you need a copy of your passport, copy of your last visa and one passport size photo ID. My visa expires July 25, 2011, but this just in: because I traveled outside of the country, my visa is apparently no longer valid and I was charged a late-fee on top of paying for a visa that is still to be accepted (there is a 90% chance and higher that it will be denied).

So in going to pay the so-called late fee, it takes ages to determine which window you need. Add that in with the no-concept-of-a-line and then finding out that no one is at the window. Why? In one particular group I monitored, one man was reading his Al-Ahram newspaper while his colleagues ate lunch, a group of women sat chatting and another mixed group sat and listened to some man regale a funny joke. Bravoooooooo.

I was told to leave my paperwork and come back in the morning. As I walked to the car, I literally walked through heaps of trash. While I’ve stressed before that the present protestors are not the same people that started the revolution (affluent Egyptians), it is astounding the amount of rubbish throughout the area. So much for the “Clean Tahrir” intiative. 

I wonder if you could draw a parallel between Tahrir Square and Animal House.

Photo source: Discovery

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Tahrir, in Itself, a Nation

You can change a country’s leader, but until the people change everything will remain the same. However, what Egyptian is going to listen to this when it comes from a foreigner? After all, what would WE know about Egypt? So when it comes from a fellow Egyptian finally realizing this, you have to hope that the words will sink in to his fellow Egyptians.

It seems international media attention has dismissed the present demonstrations in Egypt as secondary stories at best, and it might surprise you to know that I completely concur. It is not news worthy considering the battles waging in Libya, Yemen and even Bahrain; however, this is my life at the moment. A good friend of mine passed along this blog from which details one Tahrir Square sit-in’s perspective.

I felt the blog was incredibly too long and wordy to really captivate and hold reader attention, but nonetheless offered very valid viewpoints as to how Tahrir sit-ins are an experiment as to how Egypt really functions. The excerpt also has the author coming to the conclusion that the sit-ins are pointless as those participating are just creating the same environment within the square that they are supposedly fighting to ban (yet at the end he still urges others to join Tahrir which is a little mindnumbing).

The author and friends created a tent community, but after having various onlookers asking intrusive questions and leering at the females present, they organized the tents in a circle only allotting for one entrance/exit and created a safe-haven in the center. The Sandmonkey said, “In essence, without noticing, we – the people judging suburban compounds as being elitist and classist – created one without noticing.”

Sandmonkey also posed other parallels like allowing three children into the safety zone, and while offering snacks, later expecting the children to partake in helping keep the area clean, putting up supplies, etc. (child labor) or the volunteers at the security check points into Tahrir eventually bowing down to accept bribes from street venders trying to gain access (security breaches and corruption).

“For some people, what I just recounted will be heartbreaking, but to me it’s brilliant because it’s a learning experience in governance unlike anything the world has ever seen. And it gives all of those new parties and movements that aim to rule the country a chance to take a much closer look at the issues facing us and figure out the limitations of their solutions and cracks in their organizational structure.” The real heartbreaker in this is that very few will recognize these points.

The author also noted that while searching people at the checkpoint, even if a few “bad apples” were present, that people act right if an “imposing figure shows up and treats people decently no matter how much they abused him with rudeness.” Well, I can parallel this story on my own: Have any of you left Egypt to go to Europe or the US? The simple concept of a line is lost in translation here, but when leaving the country, these people somehow find the meaning of a line and other proper mannerisms. However, upon leaving these destinations traveling back to Egypt, you find that the lawlessness that they seemed to have momentarily put aside, is back in full force. When I flew back to Cairo on Delta from JFK in NYC in November 2009, I was astounded at the lack of courtesy, simple adherence to basic rules and just complete disrespect for everyone. Egyptians tried to cut one another in line over and over again, five different ticket holders at once tried to bombard the Delta representative, the two bag carry-on per person apparently didn’t apply to them, etc. The same occurrence happens each year I travel to the UAE. Egyptians can act right, but they just choose to ignore the rules and see how far they can get by doing so and with no real government or police force in place, you see the anarchy that has loomed (please note this isn’t all Egyptians as a few anomalies exist, but this is a big chunk).

“But the ultimate lesson came from one thing: ‘No Military Trials for Civilians,’” said Sandmonkey. “We might never control this country or rule it, but that may not be our role. Our role is to frame the debate and the demands, push and advocate for them by explaining to people how they relate and benefit.”

To view this long-winded excerpt, you may click “Tahrir: An Exercise in Nation Building


While reforming the nation seems to be at the top of everyone’s list, something else that should be added is the ban of selling underage girls to Emiratis, Saudis and the like. I've known of this existing for awhile, but I was just informed that a hospital in El Bardrshen falsifies documents to say that a young girl is 16 when in fact she is younger (and often times much younger) for these “Gulfies” to marry. The age in Egypt for legalized marriage of a female is 16 and what happens to these girls?

The Arab man marries her, takes her virginity and leaves after the summer. Paying a one-time fee is all that’s required by the families (around LE 17,000 or approximately $2,900). And what happens to this young girl? If she does get pregnant, well – it’s her own responsibility. She will never see the man again not only to regale the abuses that she will suffer in that month to two months of torture. In this society, once a female has lost her virginity, she will more than likely remain unmarried and an outcast (or worse, forced into a life of prostitution).

So Dear Egypt, you want change, look within.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Egypt Dismisses Tourists

Despite a $13.5-billion loss in revenue from the tourism industry alone, Egypt is gearing up to give another blow to foreigners presently living in the country. News reports are surfacing that expats currently residing in Egypt are being denied visa extensions. Bikya Masr interviewed Mark Hopkins, an American studying Arabic at a local private school, who has had at least five tourist visa extensions. Hopkins asked his school, the International Language Institute, for a letter to potentially acquire a student visa but to no avail. Officials said that only national universities could provide student visas for foreigners in the country.

The article also discussed another American citizen who is currently awaiting approval for a work visa after continuously being stalled. The unnamed source said, “I have a job and until I get the work permit, I can’t work.”

An official at the tourism ministry, Amr Abdelmaged, said: “All we’re doing is enforcing the rules of law that most tourists in other countries abide by so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to the foreigners who are not getting extensions.”

And once again, these so-called decision makers have no idea what they’re doing to their own economy. I agree with monitoring visa permits, but by placing restrictions such as only recognizing national universities to obtain a student visa is like shooting yourself in the foot. There are many private schools throughout the country that generate a great deal of revenue for Egypt’s economy. By denying visa extensions, the government is going to put more Egyptians out of jobs and further hurt its GDP (which, by the way, was previously estimated to grow at 7% per annum and has now dropped to a mere 1% although I think its GDP will eventually retract).

The beauty in all of this is the country practically on its knees begging tourists to flood the once busy pyramids and other money-making attractions. Even better are the government pleas asking for more foreign investment and financial aid from organizations like the World Bank, USAID and European financiers. The G8 announced that it would support a financial assistance package for Egypt and Tunisia while the EU and the European Investment Bank (EIB) granted the country €13-billion in loans over the next three years. Additionally the European Commission is set to establish a program to support democracy and economic growth with about €350 million in grants.

Perhaps the government is simply trying to localize its industries more so than ever before, hoping to provide jobs to all those that are unemployed. That’s terrific – if ONLY the government provided its people with the proper tools to carry on tasks that foreigners were brought in to do in the first place. Egypt, do you really think that companies like importing staff? Do you realize that it is much cheaper for businesses to hire locals than pay for expats?

So while Egypt continues to ask for money while denying foreigners visas, perhaps the country should learn the hard way. Localize your industries without the proper training and let’s see how well that turns out. Oh and don’t expect the foreigners to train your staff before giving them the boot, you want it so badly, do it yourself. This should be easy to accomplish considering that industries in Egypt are currently only operating at 50% capacity because of labor strikes, instability and continuous protests. Exports have plummeted by 40% and budget deficits are set to hit 8.6% of its GDP in 2012.

Also get ready for the backlash from those organizations that provide you with a hefty sum of cash. I feel sorry for the Egyptians that understand the so-far horrendous actions of the interim government and even those that seem to be placated in these newfound privileges. I give it two years max before the entire country is begging for the return of Mubarak and foreign-operated companies.

Pacifying the Masses

Last Friday kicked off the largest demonstrations since the protests that resulted in Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. Protestors once again crowded Cairo’s Tahrir Square calling for swifter judicial proceedings against members of the former regime. And to kick start the pacifying the impatient, an Egyptian court sentenced the country’s former prime minister Ahmed Nazif to a one-year suspended jail term. The former interior minister Habib al-Adli was sentenced to five years with the ex-finance minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali getting slammed with 10 years. Then came a cabinet reshuffle with Egypt’s prime minister forced to accept the resignation of his deputy, Yehia el-Gamal (important note: Gamal tried to resign earlier, but the military council rejected his resignation but mounting pressure from demonstrators forced its acceptance). Nazif, al-Adli and Boutros-Ghali were fined $15.6 million with Boutros-Ghali and al-Adli receiving an additional fine of $16.9 million.

In another effort to placate people angry over the “slow pace of reform” (I know, apparently a new constitution, popular-elected president and staff and recouped money from reportedly corrupt officials should happen in less than 24 hours – I mean, that’s how the real world obviously works), the government announced the dismissal of over 650 police officers alleged to have been involved in crimes under the Mubarak administration.

However, if the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) thinks this is going to appease the crowds, live up that hour of peace because it’s only a matter of time (more like the following Friday) before they come up with yet a new reason to invade the so-called “Liberation Square.” Nothing has been liberated since the onset of this movement.

*All photos taken during the January 25 protests*

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Three Years Later

Three years ago today I arrived in Cairo and this is what I’ve learned in that time:

  • I learned that everything is my fault. The nuclear catastrophe in Japan, yeah – that was because of me. Somehow my vagina caused the tsunami followed up by the earthquake.
  • I learned that I was put on this earth to serve man.
  • I learned that my dog having a penis, albeit without balls, still ranks higher than I do simply because he has weiner, he is man.

In all seriousness, this is what I’ve really learned in three years (to be fair, some of these things I should’ve learned ages ago):
  • People will always disappoint you no matter where you move.
  • Life is full of mysteries and the older you get, the more mysterious things become.
  • All men lie. I repeat: all men lie. It’s just finding the one that gives you the right lies.
  • Women are always catty no matter how old they get.
  • Your best friends come from some unlikely places. The ones you thought would stay around forever leave and the ones you never anticipated to stay are in it for the long haul.
  • The older you get and that little extra you put back for a shopping trip ends up going toward doctor checkups and other health-related ailments.
  • Working hours get longer, days get shorter, sleep is an illusion.
  • Revolutions aren’t necessarily as momentous as you see on TV.

There have been so many times that I’ve asked myself what I was still doing in Egypt, and for those of you living here, I’m sure that you understand these sentiments. From harassment to local work ethics (or lack thereof), there are many frustrations and being a single female in a male-gender oriented society doesn’t make it any easier.

Living through a revolution and continuous political instability, I thought at one point I was going to be forced to leave and that made me think about the happy times that Egypt has brought me. I was walking in Maadi one day and had tears in my eyes thinking of all the things I would miss. As cheesy as this sounds, I thought about how much I would miss Noha. After seeing another American’s nails and being pointed to Beautique, Noha turned into much more than just my manicurist. I had no idea how special she would become to me when I wrote a blog on November 11, 2008 talking about a “Great Find for a Girls Evening.”

I’ve seen Noha veiled and married. I watched her unveil and also divorce. I’ve seen her business expand. I’ve seen a woman that was fearful her business would fail when her American business partner had to pull out, grow her spa and even invest in other business ventures. I’ve had numerous adventures with her whether it be going to my first female mosque, eating koshery, making sandwiches for cabbies during Ramadan or just going for coffee. Very rarely will you find an Egyptian that is genuinely nice as many only have ulterior motives; however, when you find an Egyptian that is genuine, that is one of the sincerest forms of kindness you can ever encounter. Noha listens to my rants, she is always supportive and more than anything, she’s one of those people that embodies that sincerity.

From my September 14, 2008 blog, Sounds of Ramadan, I never would have thought that Sameh would still be around bringing such a smile to my face every time I visit Costa Coffee on Road 9 (which, for the record, isn’t as often as it was three years ago).

I also look back at some of my early blogs and chuckle (New Year, Newfound Positivity). I used to wonder why pessimistic expats remained in the country if they hated it so much. I could now be considered one of those pessimistic expats, but I believe that pessimism is the wrong word and realism is the correct term. You don’t want to listen to the advice given to you upon arrival by those that have spent years here. You need to find out for yourself. I’ve learned that I can’t force others to open their eyes sooner and they have to learn just like I did (Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing). Sometimes it’s hard watching this – especially when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex (ie foreigners dating Egyptians – Tis the Relationship Season), but again, it’s all a learning lesson and you have to trust that others will make the choice that best suits them.

One thing that never gets easier and I might argue only gets harder is the revolving door for friends. Living an expat life gives you the opportunity to have friends all over the world, but once a year, I’m faced with having to watch more friends who have become family leave. Before living overseas, I was always the first one to leave. And now the tables have turned. I saw a lot of close friends leave in 2010 starting with Andy, going to Ashish and then all in one month I had to say goodbye to my best friend here and partner-in-crime Natalia, my “Little Biotch” Justin, Jeff (aka Heffe), Laurie and Steve (Departing Ways). Let me clarify that while I know a great deal of people here, there are very few that I consider so close to me as the ones that I’ve mentioned above. The revolution has taken away more friends than imagined. Just when I said I wasn’t going to add on any more friends, now it looks like I will also be saying goodbye to Pinar.

Every time one of them leaves, I promise that I’m no longer going to have any more expat friends. And just as soon as those words come across my mind, here comes another one to the list.

For the 4th of July weekend, I organized a boat trip for a few close friends. We stayed overnight and as I stared at the stars that night, I thought how lucky I was to be able to live my dream. I’m in a country that while it presents a lot of frustrations, I’d only read about from afar. I never thought I would be able to say that riding alongside the Nile is a part of my daily routine, weekend trips to the Mediterranean and Red Sea are usual weekend activities or did I ever once think I would get to see history in the making with the revolution (although I’m going to leave my true sentiments of the revolution out of this blog for obvious reasons).

And as a brief, for those of you located here looking for a really cool adventure that you might think is beyond your means, please read how you can obtain your own private boat from Porto Sukhna below.

Taken in 2008, my first fellucca (boat ride) on the Nile
Three years later, July 4th weekend on the Red Sea

Renting Your OWN Private Yacht in the Red Sea

I feel like I’m just now stumbling across some really amazing and affordable activities, and I was thinking to myself: “I wish I would have known about this all along.” So I’ve decided to share with you something that I did for the first time July 2 that was a lot easier than you may think.

My friends and I decided that we would like to check into renting a yacht for the 4th of July weekend. A friend pointed me to this one website and when I inquired about the charges, it sounded reasonable: LE 1,500 for 12 hours and LE 2,100 for 24 hours. The problem: they wanted the money up front, they gave no receipts and no copy of an Egyptian ID. Since I didn’t know anyone personally that had used this company and with the increase in dubious actions post-revolution (and no accountable authority to really help to recoup the money should it be stolen), I was worried about it being a scam.

A colleague helped me get a different boat last minute. The price was LE 1,200 for 12 hours (6 am – 6 pm) or LE 1,400 for 24 hours (6 am – 5 am). You can talk to the boat captain in advance and he will make sure that you have fishing equipment and bait and/or snorkeling gear. A rod and reel was about LE 25 each and we purchased two kilos of shrimp for around LE 60.

The staff, composed of two guys plus the captain, were so incredibly sweet. The only downside to this particular boat was the sleeping arrangements. The bedding hadn’t been washed in ages if ever and the shrimp were so small that we only caught baby fish. My suggestion: bring your own bedding and food in case you don’t catch any fish. Make sure you bring enough to share with the boat staff. The captain refused baksheesh (tips), but we gave about LE 50 a piece to the other two members. 

We really enjoyed our time and have another boating trip set up on an even better boat for July 29. I will be sure to let all of you know what it’s like and post the contact information in case you and a group of friends would also like to partake. In the meantime, if you want to try the boat that we just rented, please send me a private message and I’ll be happy to supply the information. Word to the wise: the boat captain and staff do not speak any English.