June 4, 2009

Cairo Communication Conundrum
Nuweiba, Egypt

Our final night in Nuweiba was as sweltering as ever. Even at 7:00 in the morning our wood and concrete room was still radiating heat from the day prior.

As Tatiana packed away the last of the items saved for the morning's routine, I sought out Nasser al-Din to consult him on transport into town for our scheduled departure.

"I spoke with the man last night," Nasser unexpectedly mentioned during our conversation. "He said he'll be waiting for you at the apartment in Cairo."

…I closed my eyes briefly and took a deep breath. Shit.

The Problem

Tatiana's been friends with Princess (an Italian/American woman she met in Miami) since 2007. The two attended the same belly dance festival in Cairo during July '07, following which Tatiana spent a chunk of time at Princess' Giza apartment.

Tatiana was given a key to the home and a standing invitation to come back and stay whenever we were near, regardless if Princess was in Cairo or not—as is the case currently.

A few weeks ago Princess passed along the phone number of her Egyptian fiancée, Shalaby, via MSN Messenger—her choice of communication tool, it would seem. Supposedly the fellow would pluck us from the bus terminal in Cairo and usher us back to her home whenever we arrived.

The evening before our departure from Jordan, unsure if we'd be staying in Nuweiba or pushing on to Giza, Tatiana called him up (via Skype) to introduce herself and apprise him of our proximity.

Unfortunately, the conversation went pretty poorly (due to the language barrier), and essentially ended with us at least knowing the phone number worked and that he'd like us to call him when we arrived.

Unable to reach Princess in the two weeks since that conversation, we'd hoped to remedy our communication conundrum by having Nasser speak to the man in Arabic on our behalf.

Alas, the Internet connection at Green Beach wasn't speedy enough for a Skype call and as of last night Nasser's mobile phone was out of credits. …But we'd left him with the name and phone number, which apparently he'd kindly found a way to call on our behalf.

The problem that we now faced was an arrival in Cairo without the apartment's address. I'd been pressing Tatiana for the past week to get this info from Princess, but nothing ever materialized.

We'd have to call Shalaby again when we arrived in the city just to figure out where to go, how much to pay for a taxi (unmetered, naturally), and how to express that destination without speaking Arabic.




Craig | travelvice.com

September 20th, 2010

Of course one should never forget the ability to send international text messages with a Skype — but it's generally only good for unidirectional communication.

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