Monday, February 23, 2009

Obeying the Rules

One of the highlights of living abroad is having family and friends stop by for a visit. Last month, my parents finally made the long flight to see Egypt. I would like to say they came to see us but I think we all know better. Hubby and I provided a lovely free hotel and home base for their exhaustive tours of the region.

I shouldn’t complain too much, however, since I was lucky enough to be able to participate in many of these tours. The highlight of their visit was definitely our Nile cruise. The cruise took us from Luxor and the Valley of the Kings all the way to Aswan and points in between.

The second morning of our cruise we headed into the Valley of the Kings. Sadly, the photo at the top of today’s post is pretty much the only photos I have of the Valley of Kings. Instead, I have littered today’s blog with photos from the Valley of the Queens and Hatchupset’s Temple, both of which we saw later that day.

I’ve never been very good at following the rules. If everyone goes left – I have to go right. If the sign on the wall of the tomb says, “no photos allowed” then I have to try to be that much more discreet and only take photos when no one is watching. After all, I’m a local and the tourist rules don’t apply to me.

It turns out that my judgment may have been a wee bit off on the photo issue. My bad!

As soon as I took my camera out of its cute pink case, my father started hissing, “Typ0! Put that away! Didn’t you see the sign?” (The fact that he called me Typ0 instead of using my real name was odd but I simply assumed that the desert sun was finally getting to him.) I rolled my eyes and explained that I had taken photos of hieroglyphics before. The signs were there to scare off people without cajones.

My problem has always been that I don’t see logic and limitations when they are screaming my name at the top of their lungs. Besides, I told myself, “It’s only against the rules if you get caught.”

With my camera held discreetly low and the flash off, I wandered down the corridor of the first tomb and clicked away, paying as little attention as possible to my father who was busy shaking his head and trying to pretend he wasn’t with me. I started to get greedy about 20 feet into the tunnel and took two photos of the same thing when I heard a man clear this throat next time.

“Busted!” I grinned. “I’ll put it away. Promise!” I proceeded to do that very thing until I noticed that the man was glaring at me in a rather unfriendly manner. “I swear, I’m putting it away and won’t take anymore!”

I could hear my father muttering, “I told you so!” under his breath in an agitated, embarrassed, and yet worried for his only daughter kind of way.

The man showed me his official looking badge and demanded that I give him my camera. Hell to the no! Not my adorable pink camera with matching leather case! No! I was horrified and unable to hear anything outside of the voices in my head telling me to run, reminding me how much the camera cost, and worst of all that my father had been right! As I watched my camera disappear into The Man’s galabeya, I kept pleading with him, “I’ll delete the photos. It’s not a problem. I’m so sorry! Just please give me back my camera!”

I swear that The Man smirked as he walked away because by then my father’s rather loud, “I told you so’s” were drowning out even the guides. My mother, on the other hand, assured me that she had taken great photos without getting caught and would be happy to share her pics with me when we got home. Yay her.

After about ten minutes of fretting, The Man walked by again and I decided to go local on him and demand my camera back. “I’ll delete the photos, just give me the camera. Now!” Evidently, he noticed the tremor in my voice because he simply said that he would return it to me after I exited the tomb.

“Fine then, I’ll leave now!” I was less than half way through seeing this tunnel but I didn’t care. “Just give me back my camera!”

The Man shrugged and walked back toward the bright opening behind us while he mostly ignored all of the things I was telling about how I lived in Egypt. “There is a 2000LE fine. We will go find your guide now.”

“You’re going to tell on me?!” I thought incredulously. “It’s not bad enough my parents are in a shame spiral of doom from which they may never emerge because my transgression was witnessed by so many people, but now you want to tell our guide? That’s low!” Instead, all I said was, “Oh.”

At the top of the tunnel, The Man turned instead to the ticket taker and handed him the camera. Ticket Man was far smarter than I initially suspected. He turned my camera on and was whizzing through my photos (which were fantastic, thank you) before I could even plead my case to this fresh set of ears. He mumbled something about the photos being 50LE each in the shop and handed me the camera.

Shaking, I began deleting the photos one by one. When Ticket Man demanded the camera back to make sure that I had done my penance, I realized that he was going to check and took the camera back with a scowl to remove the one or two I had hoped to get away with.

Locals reading this are likely shaking their heads that I was stupid enough to get caught and that I didn’t just offer the man some baksheesh (bribe) to get the camera and photos back on the spot. About two hours after all of this happened, I was saying the same thing. But when the blood is pumping so loudly and all you can hear is the sound of your heart beating a mile a minute, your husband yelling from continents away, your father seething disapproval… Well, things as logical as bribes don’t occur to you quickly enough.

In the end, my father was right, I was wrong, I could have bribed my way out of the whole thing and still had photos, but instead all I have is this sad tale of my descent into delinquency. I hate I told you so’s. *pout*

43 comments:

GutsyWriter said...

How sad that your photos were deleted. I wonder how much of a bribe it would have taken. I remember similar situations in Belize with the customs guys. I hate that kind of thing. Great post.

Tiffany said...

Wow. Amazing photos.. sorry you lost some of them!

Egypt is definitely on my bucket list.

Thank you so much for coming by my blog to celebrate my birthday and my sitsday!

Tiffany

karin said...

I hate I told you so's as well. I'm glad you got your camera back.

Roxane said...

What a shame about those pictures :( Thank Goodness you got your camera back. I can't decide what's worst, the fact that you had to pay a fine for the pictures you didn't get to keep or the I told you so's from your father...

NicoleB said...

Gosh, well in the end we are all much wiser, no?
At least you have an adventure to tell ;)

LadyFi said...

Well, at least you've still got your camera.. As for parents, they're always right! Unfortunately. Even when they are wrong.

Connie said...

Sometimes it is hard to know who to ask... I find that wearing my camera in a case around my neck is a good way to attract the attention of someone who is willing to show me where to sneak some pics.

Lydia said...

I've been to the Valley of the Kings 3 times and there is always someone taking pictures getting caught. Me the first time, someone else the other two times. It's so hard to think "in the moment". I acted as translator for this French couple that got caught and I had the wits about me to tell them to offer baksheesh, but no. The guy in the galabeyya still wanted to keep the camera. Stupid-head. :( I don't see what the big deal is. Like that sunlight pouring in the doorways isn't going to kill whatever colour is left! I think Zahi Hawass is behind it all. Conspiracy.

3 Bay B Chicks said...

Such an amazing blog you have here. Seriously...you live in Cairo? Someday you will have to point me to the post that describes how all this continent hoping began. I am sure that you have a great story!

Also, thanks for the bribing tip. I'll have to keep that one in mind.

-Wenda

The Blonde Duck said...

I would have been mad. I've always adored Egypt, but now I'm having second thoughts....

Popped in from SITS!

Yaya said...

Do bloggy friends count? Can I come visit? ;)

Casey said...

Uh oh! I'm totally going to get in trouble for this! I'm a big time illegal picture taker. The Sistine Chapel, John's cave on Patmos, I could go on. I'll just bring the bribe money.

Any other tips? Our tour boat follows the same route.

Kathy B! said...

I am so coming to visit you. We could get into all sort of trouble together :) But my husband and four kids might notice I was gone. Maybe I better stay here :)

What a great story that was!! Your poor parents. They sound just like mine!

And as for your comment on my blog... strangely, things like this do seem to happen when I'm left in charge. What does that say about me I wonder?! :)

Bee and Rose said...

LOL! I am so happy you stopped by my blog:) I love this story! My son loves Egypt and is begging me to take him there. We did a school unit on it that originally was supposed to take 3 days and he loved it so much that we stretched it out to 3 weeks:)

You gave me the best fit of giggles! I'll be back for more!

Anonymous said...

BBA's son did a speech on the pyramids!
And did your mother share any pictures with you/did any of hers turn out? Did you really pay 2000LE?
I bet you didn't take any more pictures in places "they" didn't want you to! :)
merthyrmum

Heather said...

I'm so sorry you lost all your photos! I would have been in tears! Thanks for stopping by my blog by the way!

Ryan Ashley Scott@Optimistic Cynicism said...

I cannot believe they actually made you erase those photos! And kudos to your mother - even your dad didn't know she was taking them, huh? Wives are so much more clever than us daughters.

Thanks for visiting my blog today!

mistika said...

I can not believe they took your camera away!!!!
Malish habibi!

Lisa said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm really enjoying yours, I'm now a follower. You got me with the Hello Kitty post...

Katherine Aucoin said...

I would have been so angry. I love learning about Egypt.

Roxane said...

Yes, I was thinking about letting him choose his own nickname but then it occurred to me that he might feel inclined to read the blog! eek!

I root for the Montreal Canadiens and the NJ Devils. I say if you've lived in 2 countries you get to have 2 teams! SS is a Ranger fan so I watch those games too. What about you? Do you watch or have a favorite team? I doubt Egypt has any hockey on prime time tv (but then again what do I know about Egypt?)

A newbie question for you...What's the best way to answer people's comments? On my blog or on theirs? I'm bound to get the hang of this at some point lol

Semi-Slacker Mom said...

Cool blog! lOVE THE SHOWER SCENE!

Brenda said...

We are SUCH rule breakers in our family, I am sure I would have done just as you did and then had the same consequences.

Great story! And a good reminder to obey the rules!

honkeie2 said...

No No No, you should have had a dummy camera. I use that all the time in places they say no pictures. I also am very good when it comes to brides. They dont work all that well in the states but in other countries its like the golden ticket to happiness.

MOMMY-MOMO said...

thanks for stopping by my blog! your pictures from your travels are AMAZING!

forever folding laundry said...

Loving your blog! Your life in Cairo fascinates me. You are much braver than I would be for taking the photos. I would have been too terrified of Egyptian prison to even attempt it. They don't put up with much, do they!?!

~Keri

Betty said...

Does your father read your blog?? I bet he would love this! :)

I hate "I told you so´s" too!

Debbie said...

What phenomenal photos. And I can feel the pain in my stomach in sympathy for you losing pictures.

American in Norway said...

eeek you are a hell of a lot braver than I would have been.,,, I have seen MIDNIGHT EXPRESS...scared the shit out of me...(I know it is Turkey...but still) Lucky you arn't locked up somewhere!

Juls said...

I told you so's are the worst... especially in this case, because I loved all of your pictures....and want to see more....how many cazillions of dollars would it take me to get to egypt, I wonder?

TL said...

I am laughing at your rule breaking. Over from SITS and glad I came across your blog. What a great post!

I'd love to travel to some of the places you've talke about in your blog!

Kat said...

I would totally be trying to take illegal pictures, too.

I wanted to take them at the King Tut exhibit when it came to town...but they have someone in every room. I wonder if a bribe would have worked here in Atlanta?!

Wifey said...

"Hell to the no!" I love it! What a great story; and a great blog. Looking forward to reading more - smiles!

Wifey said...

"Hell to the no!" I love it! What a great story; and a great blog. Looking forward to reading more - smiles!

AndreaLeigh said...

wow, that sounds like amazing sightseeing opportunities! i love the pictures.

funny story. i would have so done the same thing. thank goodness you were insistent about getting your camera back.

lisalyn said...

Just wanted to thank you for visiting my blog and for the well wishes for my daughter.

Your travels sure are interesting....and I don't even like to travel. :)

daisigirl said...

These photos are great! My daughter and I studied Egypt last year. It so fascinating! We would love to go visit and we will be sure and heed your advice on the picture taking!

Megan said...

What a total bummer about the pics!!

Glad you got your camera back, though!

I would've been doing the same thing...trying to take illegal pics. lol ;0P

Sturgmom said...

First of all, the pice you DO have are amazing!! I would love to know more about how you came to live in Egypt!

Secondly, you're in good company, if I do say so myself. I got kicked out of a church in Paris for trying to sneak pictures. It might not have been the most reverent (or legal) thing to do, but it was ONCE IN A LIFETIME!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tip0,

The guards get a reward for each person they catch taking pics. I'm sorry you had to delete yours.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant Typ0

Mojo said...

Oh there would have been a fight, no question about it. I'd have given up the memory card, but you can have my camera when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.

Rombo said...

You've just reminded me: I loved our guide to bits, but I drove him crazy at Hatshepsut's temple.

When we were viewing the wall that depicted what she brought back from Puntland, the engravings you have photographed above made me realise that she may have brought back slaves from Puntland (their kinky hair distinguished them from the Egyptians) so I asked him whether this was the case. He was absolutely indignant and we had an interesting (not hostile) exchange about it.

Sigh. You know what, I could live in a Museum. I really could.