Taken for a ride in Cairo

This item appears on page 56 of the August 2011 issue.

Tell ITN about the funniest thing that ever happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. The ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

This month’s winner is WILLIE KATE FRIAR of Lafayette, CO:

It was sometime in the ’80s that I was in Cairo visiting the pyramids with my two small sons, eight and ten years old. They wanted a ride on the camels, so I told the camel driver that I needed two camels, one for me and my younger son and another for the 10-year-old. He said something in Arabic which I didn’t understand and then told me the price. After I paid, he had the camels kneel down and we climbed aboard.

We began the ride around a pyramid at a slow pace, with the driver holding the reins of the camels. We circled the pyramid and, before heading back to the starting point, I asked the driver to take our picture with the pyramid in the background. He did so and I gave him a tip.

Suddenly, he hit both camels in the back with a paddle and off we raced across the desert, with stones flying everywhere. We struggled to hang on. My son riding with me yelled, “You didn’t tip him enough. We are going to die.”

We managed to hang on and got back safely. Finding another driver who spoke English, I asked him why our driver had hit the camels.

He said, “Madam, the driver asked you if you wanted the slow ride out and the fast ride back and he said that is what you paid for.”