Ports, or at least the ones that we used, were often a bit away from a city center. This was especially the case in Safaga, Egypt. We knew that we would not have to work at this port so I’d attempted to do some research beforehand to find that Hurghada was the closet large town, which looked both touristy and desolate. Regardless, it was my first time stepping foot on Africa and it was going to be great.
But first, we had to get there.
There was a big group of us, a combination of the volunteer interpreters and English teachers. There was a bit of a row between cab drivers as to who was going to take us, but we managed to prevent an all out brawl and file into two minivans.
Happy that we were able to get a better deal than the shuttle bus chartered by the travel agency on the ship, we didn’t really take it too seriously when the driver tried to change the price of the ride.
We were too busy opening the windows for some desert air and a better look at what a desert looks like, like, in real life, OMG. The reason we were so confident and busy looking out the window before was because one of the members in our group was an international student whose mother language was Arabic. Apparently this does not stop taxi drivers from trying to be crafty.
The driver kept insisting that…
- The original price agreed upon wasn’t enough to cover the gas in the trip.
- We would have to pay for parking while they waited for us in Hurghada for 4 hours. 4 hours?
- We would have to pay double to cover the price of gas for them to go back to Safaga.
The drivers would drive close to each other once in a while to discuss prices, and we took advantage of that as well. Can you imagine people yelling in Arabic, English and Japanese out of windows while driving down a two-lane highway in the middle of the desert? I personally don’t need to. I had the privilege of seeing this situation, which is only funny now, because of what happened next.
The pulled over to the side of the road, parking vertically so that we couldn’t communicate between the cars, with only endless stretches of road and desert to be seen, thereby taking away our ability to exercise other options. Who does that.
It was about this time that our Jordanian friend turns to the driver, cig he’d bummed from the driver hanging out of his mouth, and he and the driver start yelling at each other, effectively shutting the rest of us up, and leave us sitting wide-eyed, eyes following the back and forth of the conversation. The only Arabic any of us knew were what our friend had taught us on the ship so all we knew was that they were not greeting each other, shopping, or hitting on each other (in his words “you know, in case you find a nice Egyptian man.” Glad I have someone looking out for me).
By the end they were laughing and we were again on our way with just a dollar added to the total cost. Whatever, we took it.
We finally arrived to our destination and lo and behold, they tried again to raise the price. Apparently our cohorts in the other van never stopped trying to bargain and had gotten the price back to the originally agreed amount so we all just paid that and let them argue it out among themselves.
yeah, I really don’t have any.
Sure we got a pretty decent price for the ride, but it definitely came with a cost to the tune of emotional scarring.
Does anyone else have any advice? It would be much appreciated.
Any taxi horror stories to share?