A couple of years ago my husband and I decided it was a good idea to stay in a hostel in Egypt. We have hosteled all over the world — so this was no big deal, right?
Looking back on this story now, I am embarrassed to tell it. I feel like the clueless victim in the horror movie who doesn’t see the shadow of the murderer coming up behind her. But, in case someone can learn something from this, I’ll go ahead and write this.
Getting off the plane, I should have known not to wear shorts in public in Egypt. It was like wearing a sign saying, “Tourist” on my back. As we briskly walked to our hostel, I could feel the eyes all over me and my heart started to burn with fear. We couldn’t ask anyone for directions because they didn’t speak English very well, and frankly, we were scared to stop. This was a stupid, stupid idea.
After an hour, we found our hostel. It was a down a dark alley filled with broken glass, one homeless man, and at least a month’s worth of garbage from the nearby houses. We had to walk up three flights of stairs — not because we wanted to, but because the elevator looked as though a bomb went off inside of it. At the top of the stairs, we were greeted by the friendly hostel owner. Phew. We made it.
Our room was equipped with a bed and a washroom. Nothing more, nothing less. At that point, I was surprised there were bed sheets and toilet paper in the room. There was no lock on the door, so we placed a chair and luggage by the door, because clearly that would keep intruders out.
I woke up every hour on the hour to check to see if anyone was in the room. When I finally fell asleep, there was a knock on the door. A mean, demanding knock. I shot up from the bed like the possessed girl from The Exorcist.
“Yes?” I asked.
Then, another hard knock on the door. What the hell was going on?
I did what any logical woman would do — I sent my husband to answer it. Before he could open the door, the person stopped knocking. My hubby opened the door and waiting there for us was our breakfast on a metal tray.
Moral of the story: When traveling to places where you feel less comfortable, try to go in a large group of people and stay at a hotel. No matter how broke you are, or how much money you will save, it’s not worth having a horror movie moment.
My husband and I felt more and more comfortable as our vacation went on in Egypt. In fact, we saw some of most beautiful beaches, historic tombs, and of course, the pyramids. We met up with some of our Egyptian friends who treated us like we were family.
Although the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover” applies to this story, when traveling, always put your safety first.