There are so many things I absolutely adore about David. He brings me coffee every morning in bed when he wakes me up. I can’t announce that I will be doing a project around the house the next day because David will get up early to make sure he gets the project done before he brings me my coffee. With that being said, let me tell you, David is so not anally retentive enough to be the planner for this trip. Yes, he is brilliant when it comes to researching the hotels, cruises, tour guides and flights, but when it comes down to what I consider the finer details, David is not your go-to guy.
After several attempts, I got David to print out an itinerary for the trip. Finally I had a game plan. Now it was time for me to go to work on my part of the vacations. First in line: money. According to the travel guides, if someone looks at your sideways, they expect to get a “tip”. The exchange rate is roughly 5 Egyptian Pounds to the dollar. The poverty rate in Egypt is heartbreaking. The country thrives on “tips”. You are supposed to tip the taxi driver, the bag boy, the doorman, and especially the lady that stands at the entrance to the public washrooms and hands out the squares of toilet paper. Legend has it that if you give her a big enough tip she will point you in the direction of the cleanest stall and toss you a couple extra squares of toilet paper. Usually a good tip would be about the equivalent of a quarter. From what I’ve read about bathroom hygiene in the country, she will be getting a full dollar from this southern girl. If paying a buck gets me a few extra squares of TP and the potential of a stall that is not going to put me off my feed for the rest of the day, I’m all in.
Earlier this month I cornered David and made him go through the itinerary. We went over, in detail, all of the times that a tip would be appropriate, what tour groups took credit cards, which hotels had to be paid in cash, who preferred to get paid in US dollars and who preferred Egyptian Pounds. David spent the majority of this time with the same look on his face that I’m sure he wore in his 8th grade algebra class. I painstakingly went through blog after blog trying to narrow down how much an “average” person would spend in a day. The only reason I am so over the top with the cash is that I have read many blogs saying to have your money with you when you go. Unfortunately, some Egyptians want US dollars, some want Egyptian pounds, some take credit cards and some do not and they absolutely do not take travelers checks. So unless I magically find an ATM up my rump, I figure I probably better have the cash in hand when we land.
Now it is the day before our trip. I was up until 3am in the morning meticulously folding all our clothing into neat little squares that would fit perfectly into either a quart or gallon-sized storage bag. Then the packing began. I have one bag that we will be checking and one bag that we will carry on the plane. I packed the smaller bag with the essentials for the first day, just in case the checked bag ended up in Bangladesh instead of Cairo. The rest went into the bigger bag with the ever watchful eye that it could not exceed 44 pounds or Egyptair would be charging us an extra fee. Like clowns in a Volkswagen, all the clothes, shoes, medications, toiletries and snack foods tucked into our two brand new red suitcases. Finally I sat down and programmed the numbers and ringtones into our new international cell phones (in case of emergency), made sure our new digital camera would play nice with my little laptop and finally painted my finger nails and toe nails. It’s 3am and finally I think all the pesky “finer” details have been ironed out.