I’m being polite with the title. As I mimed pulling down my trousers, through the red mist the thought went through my head: how did it get to the f*ck me up the arse dance?
A stroll down Aswan’s Nileside Corniche had turned into dark comedy as I metaphorically put my head out the window and shouted ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE’
This is the most hasslesome country we’ve ever been to. Almost the whole of Egypt seems to be involved: taxi drivers, fussy beggars, greedy fat kids, hotel touts, shop touts, restaurant touts, caleche touts, felucca touts. Even toilet touts: “my toilet is the best. Best toilet paper, very clean. That toilet over there, very bad, very bad people.”
Egypt has been a tourist destination for thousands of years. The touts wore Julius Caesar down so much he bought an alabaster Cleopatra bust even though he could admire the real one.
Napoleon told Josephine not to wash because he’d been persuaded to buy a boatload of perfume. He got so annoyed he shot the nose off the Sphinx.
The constant interruptions, scams and overcharging, sometimes charming, sometimes rude, can be stressful. We could see from the faces of other tourists how wearisome they found their evening riverside stroll as they were approached for the hundredth time in a couple of hours.
The Fuck Me Up The Arse Dance
Against this background the toys were slowly but surely being thrown out of my pram until that final, dreadful finale. The fuck me up the arse dance.
In an unsubtle attempt to convey through body language what I thought of a particularly ridiculous price for the local ferry to Elephantine Island – five times the official price for foreigners, as displayed on the sign right in front of me – I mimed pulling down my trousers to suggest I didn’t appreciate the attempt at a shafting.
I was moving as I did this so the pulling down gesture turned into a running, jumping motion accompanied by noisy and creative obscenities. It was made sillier when two of the touts joined in and the three of us hopped and shouted our way down the promenade looking like three big angry chickens.
It ended in laughter for everyone (except the mad guy who wanted to cut my throat and dump me in the Nile – he really wanted that kickback) and, after finding my mysteriously absent girlfriend, we boarded the boat for the official price (still many times more than what locals pay, but I can accept that).
Reading this you probably think that we hated Egypt and the Egyptians. Not true. Quite the opposite, we loved the place and especially the people. During our time there the country seduced us both so much that we both agree Egypt is our favourite country in the world. We rarely agree on anything.
(Despite loving Egypt and the Egyptian people the best bit about our month in the country was taking a cruise ship down the Nile to Luxor. None of those sneaky, annoying, generous, wonderful buggers could get at us for three whole days. Bliss).