Day 2: Mastarouh – New Dumyat: Egyptian Humour
Sunday May 22, 2011, 102 km (63 miles) – Total so far: 208 km (129 miles)
Before I left in the morning I was given a large breakfast by Moshad’s wife. I couldn’t thank Moshad and his family enough. I didn’t offer any money as I think it would have been rude to do so. Moshad kept putting his hand to his heart, I took this to mean that it was done out of the goodness of his heart. So I believe it would have been a bit offensive to offer money like I had done for the guy who showed me the way yesterday. I truly thanked Moshad and set off on the highway hoping to reach New Dumyat today.
After 40km I bypassed Baltim and continued on along the coast road. This part wasn’t very scenic. There were sand dunes and palm trees for some of it but most of it was just passing through barren land.
A bit of the way along this road I was offered tea by two kids on a motorbike. I accepted, deciding to take a break from the heat and followed them to a cafe just off the road. Here I met the father and son (in his late teens) who ran the cafe. Things started off well and I had a good chat with the son who spoke English well. But once the tea was ready he told the kids who had invited me here to leave and started getting down to business. He suggested that I should give him a gift to remember me by. I could see a certain eagerness in his eyes like he wanted something, so I was on edge, ready to get out of there if necessary. He started repeating “I want watch” and when he saw my iphone in my bag insisted that we should swap telephones. While I quickly finished off the tea I gave him a few European coins hoping this would satisfy his need for a gift. He seemed a bit antagonised now though and kept repeating that he wanted my watch (even though I didn’t have one.) I decided it was time to go. As I was leaving he tried to guilt trip me by saying how poor he and his father were and that I should give them lots of Egyptian money! I gave a firmer no this time and got back on the bike and out of there. I was annoyed at the greediness of the son who was expecting me to shower him with gifts. It was a fairly harmless incident but it was a reminder that not everyone in this part of Egypt is so good.
I continued cycling hard against the wind to New Dumyat. Along this stretch of road as I was cycling along, a guy on a motorbike slowed down alongside me. He started talking to me in Arabic, “What is your name?”, “Where are you from?” etc. I was used to this by now and answered away in the little Arabic I had. Soon enough though he started talking about money and it seemed he wanted some! He started screaming “MONEY!” in my face while swerving towards me on the motorbike. For each shout of “MONEY”, I shouted back “LA’A” (No.) But he kept screaming MONEY at me and to be honest I couldn’t quite see how I was going to get out of this one. I decided to try and get rid of him instead of seeing how far this went. So I took whatever coin I had in my pocket and tried to give it to him hoping he wouldn’t bother trying to get anything else. If he tried to get more after this I would have to try and keep strong, I couldn’t afford to be robbed here.
Once he saw me take the coin out of my pocket he started laughing and saying “La’a money”. It seemed he had been joking. What was a joke to him had seemed fairly serious to me when he was shouting “MONEY” in my face and swerving towards me. I had no idea that he was just pretending to rob me. I usually have a good sense of humour and it’s hard to offend me but this pissed me right off. He tried to keep talking to me but I told him in no uncertain terms to fuck off which he duly did. I wasn’t a fan of this kind of humour!
After this it was an incident free ride to New Dumyat. This town was a bit strange to say the least. It was filled with 8km worth of abandoned construction projects and empty showrooms. Between these were the odd towerblock of appartments. I haggled down the price in one of the only hotels in town and spent the night there. I was feeling pretty bad in the evening, perhaps from the water I had drank in Mastarouh. I hadn’t put any water purification tablets in it as it would have been fairly rude. It seems though that I may have picked up something bad from it. In the future I guess putting the tablet in it has to be better than getting a parasite from the water and is something I will have to force myself to do in the future, even if it is a bit rude.