Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Is NOT Too Much!

"Is too much".  This is quite possibly the most common phrase I hear in Cairo.  Usually the conversation starts out like this:

Any person in Egypt: "How much did you pay for X item?"
Me:  "Well, I paid 25 pounds."
Any person in Egypt, in disappointed voice, shaking head:  "Oh. Is too much. Too much."

"Is too much."  Doesn't matter if the person I'm speaking to is Egyptian and has difficulty with English.  Even the Americans I talk to say it. Just. Like. That. "Is too much."

And it doesn't matter if I really did pay too much for it or not.  Bargaining is such a way of life here, that someone will inevitably say "is too much" during the bargaining process.  I've said it.

Me: "How much for these mangoes?"
Seller: "30 pounds."
Me: "Is too much. I have 20 pounds."
Seller: "No."
Me: "Is too much.  I give you 20 pounds."
Seller (removing one mango):  OK.

By the way, 20 Egyptian pounds is the equivalent of less than $4USD.  For that, I got 3 mangoes and a big, juicy cantaloupe  I thought I did well.  I beamed.  I strutted.

I bragged to a friend: "I paid only 20 pounds and got 3 beautiful mangoes and a juicy cantaloupe!"  Friend: "Oh, is too much."
Me: [Insert confused look]
Friend: "Is too much. You shouldn't have paid more than 15 pounds."


But every money conversation follows this general pattern here in Cairo. So when it came time to make plans to visit the pyramids, EVERYONE chimed in.  Especially when we agreed to pay $120US for a private tour (and driver) for a half-day tour.  Everyone practically sang "IS*TOO*MUCH!

Yet, we'd heard the horror stories of people heading to the pyramids alone.  100 pounds to get in to see the inside of a pyramid.  200 pounds to get out.  15 pounds to get your kid a camel ride.  500 pounds to get him back.  Lots and lots of horror stories.  Lots and lots of exhausted, icky faces when telling their stories of the pyramids.  We didn't want that.  At all.

So we forked it up front (and for the record, I don't think $120 for a private Egyptologist tour guide, car, and driver plus admission tickets is too much.  If anything, I'd say we got a deal!).  We made arrangements with our nanny to keep Kellen (most of Cairo is NOT baby-friend, not even the tourist destinations) and our driver and guide arrived at our home this morning and drove us to the pyramids.  Along the route, the guide gave a nice history of Egypt and answered many of our questions.  When we arrived, he got our tickets for us and helped us navigate the guards.  We went to the first pyramid and he gave us the history.  And then encouraged us to enjoy some free time roaming around the pyramid.  He helped us navigate the sellers and the camel rider offers.  We took lots of pictures and then went back to the car and drove to the next two pyramids and the panoramic view site.

Here our tour guide offered us camel rides with a merchant he knew personally.  We happily agreed (50 pounds per person, plus 20 pounds tip for the boys leading the camel).  No camel riding off into the distance with our lovely munchkins with ransom for return.  Nope.  We had a lovely, lingering camel ride.  The boys used our cameras and took our pictures.  We thoroughly enjoyed this trip.

Then our tour guide navigated us through the merchants and gave us some simple tips:  buy it if you want it and know that you may or may not be overpaying for it.  Or we could leave and shop at a gift shop later.  We opted to browse the merchants and Abby found a sweet 3-camel jeweled trinket set.  I got a scarf. Owen got a keychain.  We didn't worry if "is too much" (although we did hear it and say it just for the fun of bargaining).

We hopped in our car again and drove to the Sphinx.  The tour guide pointed out nearby tombs and where mummification took place.

All of it was breathtaking.  And I'll be honest - the Pyramids and Sphinx were never on my 'bucket' list in life.  If you'd ask if I wanted to go there, I'd say sure, I guess so, but it wasn't something I felt I HAD to do or even really wanted to do.  But I am so glad I got to see this today.  It really is awe-inspiring.

We finished out our day with a trip to a papyrus museum and a gift shop.  The shopkeeper was knowledgable and we purchased some lovely items for ourselves.  The best part? All items had actual price tags on them, and we didn't have to bargain it down.

Our driver and tour guide returned us to our home in the early afternoon and we thanked them profusely for the wonderful time we had.  We hadn't experienced the anxiety that others had on their trips, we'd learned quite a bit about Egyptian history, and we'd enjoyed the sites.  Stress-free.  Really.  $120USD?  Is NOT too much.

If you'd like the contact name for our tour guide, please let us know.  We'll be using him in the future for other tours around Cairo, too!

Enjoy the photos.

Most pictures I've seen don't show just how close the
pyramids are to Giza.
And Cairo is off in the distance.

Super Strong.
Super-duper strong.



  1. A worry free day is priceless. Great photos--even the super duper cheesy ones.

  2. Awesome pics. I love the contrast of your daughter's bright dress with the tan of everything else. Also. So jealous.

  3. Awesome! I agree, it is worth it not to come home frustrated. I didn't realize how close they are to the city. Kind of cool to see.