Many tourists only see the Great Pyramids at Giza.
This is a photo of the Steppe Pyramids at Memphis,
much older than the ones at Giza.
We had been advised of the procedure to follow when we entered customs in the Cairo Airport. There are always the ten percent who don't get the message and they caused a delay of over an hour. A couple of them even tried to tell the customs people how to run their business, a real no no in Egypt. More delay.
After the scariest five minute ride I have ever experienced from the airport to the hotel, we finally entered that lovely cool atrium that served as the lobby. A host of bellhops stood by our luggage, ready to whisk us to our rooms after we completed the registration formality. This consisted of turning in our passports, signing a guest registration card and picking up our key.
My first room at the hotel was ideal. Third floor near the elevator with a view of the garden and pool area. One elderly gentleman tended the gardens and he was one of the best I have ever seen. Lush areas of St. Augustine grass were manicured with a push mower and the variety of flowers seemed to change every day. The hotel was a rest stop for many of the airlines that served Cairo and it was not unusual to see twenty to thirty young, beautiful flight attendants tanning around the pool. They drove the young pool attendant wild. Muslim law and hotel rules forbade topless attire but this didn't seem to deter some of the girls.
A flight attendant for Air France who liked to
tan topless. For modesty sake, I made sure I
always photographed from the neck up.
Me out by the pool.
I got a little dark during my stay.
It didn't take me long to make myself acquainted with some of the staff, notably the bartenders and wait staff in the Cafe, one of five top notch dining areas. My camera made friends from day one. "Take my picture" was a common greeting. As soon as I found a photo shop that could develop my prints, I started giving copies to the help. At last count, I shot over a hundred thirty-six exposure rolls of film. A roll of film with processing four by six prints ran about five dollars US compared to ten back in the States. Money was not a problem as we were paid a generous per diem plus our salaries. After I moved to a pool side cabana, my expenses were even more reasonable.
This is the Captain and favorite waitress at the Cafe, one of five dining rooms.
One afternoon I was having a drink in the pool cafe. A group of men at one end of the area started arguing in loud voices and pretty soon fists started flying, all aimed at one individual. The waitress tried to hustle me out of the fracas but I had my camera and wanted some pictures. Wouldn't you know it, I was out of film. Still didn't see any reason to leave, they were not mad at me. Later on that evening, I was in the men's room just off the lobby. The man who had lost the fight was there. I had no intention of starting a conversation but he asked if I had seen the fight that afternoon. I told him I had noticed a disturbance but had not paid much attention. He was insistent and asked how I thought he had done defending himself. The guy was obviously drunk and not wanting any trouble, I told him it appeared to me he had taken a pretty good country licking. I dried my hands and left. As I came around the corner near the elevator I heard a thud behind me. When I turned, I saw the man from the restroom lying flat out on his back with the head of security bending over him. Seems he was about to attack me from the rear. The guard had "clothes lined" him and laid him out on the carpet. Later on, I asked the guard what had started all the fuss and he told me the man had insulted the sister of one of the guys who had beaten him up.
Housekeeping staff, supervisors and maid. These people made sure my room was spotless
and every thing was in order. Honest to a fault. The man was a waiter from Room Service.
If there was a disadvantage to living by the pool, it was during Ramadan. No food, or drink from dawn to dusk during this religious period for Muslims. Every night for a month, the hotel booked huge parties with loud music that lasted all night. I didn't require much sleep and it is a good thing. The entertainment was great and I had a ringside seat. Jugglers, belly dancers and magicians performed most of the night and the food was some of the best the hotel had to offer. One night, my friend Sonny Bowles stopped by to see for himself what I had been talking about. The hotel had erected a platform on the adjacent cabana with steps leading up. Sonny and I loaded a tray from the buffet with watermelon, placed a couple of chairs on the platform and settled down to watch the show. We had barely taken our seats when the band played a fanfare and a spotlight lit us up like a Christmas tree. Not knowing what else to do, we stood up and took a bow. It seems that a famous singer was supposed to perform on the platform. It was dark and whoever was running the show thought Sonny and I were the singer and called for the music and spotlight. Someone from the show came flying up the steps to tell us to leave which we did after taking another bow. The singer took our place and we endured and hour of caterwauling Egyptian music. The watermelon was outstanding and we had received a nice round of applause when we left the platform.
Me and the first bellhop I ever met at the
Sheraton in 1983. Very accommodating
Carinne Tischmann, daughter of Vice
President and General Manager of
Sheratons in Egypt. She was also my
worthy opponent playing Monopoly. I think
she was almost thirteen in this photo.
After making friends with the children of the General Manager/Vice President Sheraton Hotels, I pretty much had the run of the hotel. Knew all the staff and it was hard to pay for a drink and a lot of meals.
This is Muhammad, first bartender I met
in Cairo. The photo is a bit fuzzy but so
was I after a couple of his "man sized"
drinks. He taught me a lot of Arabic
words and how to use them properly.
I spent almost fourteen months at the Sheraton. Only one person had been there longer, a gentleman from London. He had checked in the day the hotel opened and had been there ever since for a total of five years. He left the hotel every morning in a limo and returned in the evening in time for dinner. Pretty much kept to himself and was not popular with the staff. I observed him in the Cafe and could see why. He seemed to find fault with every thing his wait person did and I was tempted to tell him if he was so unhappy, why didn't he just find another hotel.