Egypt and The Upside of Relentless Catcalls

I like to believe a country’s best asset is its people, but since I was touring Egypt with On the Go, our jam-packed itinerary didn’t allow much time to mingle. My interactions in Egypt were mostly limited to tour guides, touts and shop owners, and guess what I found out?

I may be one of the most beautiful women in the world.

Some might assert that the men I encountered were just trying to sell me plastic pyramid souvenirs and papyrus made in China, or attempting to woo me to bed with their compliments, but I choose to believe that the majority were truly, madly and deeply in love with me. After all, 6 million camels in return for my hand in marriage is a solid offer, I don’t care who you are. (And it’s the best offer I’ve received to date…)

 I could have all this…

All the marriage offers and compliments had me laughing during my two weeks in Egypt, though as I’ve said before, I wouldn’t have thought it was so funny had I been by myself. If not for my group of fun new friends, I might have looked into flights to America and an early exit from Pharaoh land…

Instead, my two weeks in Egypt may have been the best in a whole year of travel.

Maybe my self esteem just needed a boost? Whatever the reason, check out some of the favorite pickup lines I jotted down as we toured Cairo, Giza, Aswan, Luxor and Dahab.

The only Egyptian I smooched during my trip

Celebrity Sightings 

  • Hey, it’s Shakira! (Particularly funny because that’s what my friends called me in college. My hips don’t lie.)
  • Hey, Cinderella. You are a princess to me! Would you like papyrus?
  • Oh my god. It’s J. Lo! J. Lo, come to my shop – I have everything!

Bartering for Marriage

  • I don’t know what you’re looking for, but I have it!
  • How many camels for Shakira? I have 600 camels. 6,000 camels! I will give you 6 million camels.

        Do you really have 6 million camels? 


        Then why are you selling postcards?

 Sexy Time

  • I will take you to the candy shop. 
  • You cannot imagine how sad I am that you are walking away from me right now.
  • Oh my god. I like your size.
  • You have magic eyes. I love your magic leg! And your magic a**! (Stef & I were in hysterics after this one.)
  • Wooo! That is a sexy, nice a**. (Interesting because the kid who said it was about 14.)

In Luxor, we were pressed for time and had to run several blocks to pick up lunch before boarding the bus. As we hurried back to the hotel with our purchases a little fella sidled up to us.

Lady, may I have your chicken.


Lady, may I have your chicken.


Lady, may I have your chicken.


Lady, may I have your chicken.


It went on for blocks.

In fact, every time we left the confines of a hotel or resort, we were barraged with comments, catcalls and salesmen, despite dressing appropriately for Egypt. I certainly can appreciate why the shopkeepers were extra-aggressive. Since the Egyptian revolution, tourism has been cut by up to 50% at times. In a country where tourist sites are a huge part of the GDP, that’s obviously caused some folks to get desperate.

As for the catcalls, most of the remarks I heard were harmless and funny (I never really tire of being called Shakira and feeling like a rockstar), though others were a bit too sexual to be entertaining. And given my run-in with the handsy bathroom attendant on the Sinai Peninsula, I believe some of them were probably willing to follow through with their lewd offers. (I’ve excluded the worst ones out of respect for my’s search traffic… don’t want Google sending any folks looking for freaky stuff my way!)

Bottom line: if you go to Egypt, be prepared for the onslaught and don’t take it too seriously. Bring a couple of friends and a notepad to write down the funniest phrases.

And enjoy your time as Shakira.

Extra credit: “Egyptian men explain their relentless catcalls.” The Christian Science Monitor, June 2011

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17 thoughts on “Egypt and The Upside of Relentless Catcalls”

  1. Good for you for laughing it off! Sometimes people take things like this a little too personally. These are my two favorites: “You cannot imagine how sad I am that you are walking away from me right now.” and “Oh my god. I like your size.” It sounds like he’s talking about your height, which would be quite cute. Something tells me he’s not though…

    1. I’m starting to think I made a mistake in refusing the 6 million camels! Everyone’s telling me I should’ve taken the deal. I feel like I’m on the Price is Right, Egypt Edition!

  2. Hha nice!! I was offered quite a few camels in Morocco as well… i don’t remember the amount. But I figured I would definitely go over my luggage weight amount with even one camel… and you know how airlines charge for overweight bags these days…

    1. I tried to reason with these guys… where am I going to put ONE camel, let alone hundreds or thousands of them. And my Dad certainly doesn’t need any in exchange for me…

  3. Hearing these stories and having some experience with touts and scammers you realise that attention is really a double-edged sword.

    I think we’ve all wished that we were more attractive, a little bit richer or even famous. With that comes extra attention so you’ll need to build a tolerance to the downsides. This comes with time and experience. Its great that you have a sense of humor and can express yourself through this blog.

    If guys could hear more of these stories we’d be appalled at what we’ve inflicted on you gals. Mental note: Upgrade my pickup line from 3million camels to 6 for best effect.

    1. I’ve decided the next time I’m offered 6 million camels, I’m taking it. What do I have to lose? And who couldn’t use 6 million camels?

      Thanks for reading =)

  4. Dang, girl. I don’t know how you turned down 6 million!! I was only offered 15 in Jordan, and I thought that was pretty good. I only turned it down because the guy was a bedouin and said I would have to share with several other wives. I don’t think so! Glad you enjoyed Egypt, though.. I also had a blast there recently.

  5. maybe its 6 million postcards with camel pics,even then its a bit too much .dont think there are 6 million camels on this planet!

  6. Hi! I am travelling alone. I will be on a cruise ship and the tours are included, excluding the Pyramids of Giza. I am pleased that you had a good time as I have been hearing so many warnings about travelling alone and it was beginning to freak me out. Would you recommend getting the Pyramids tour as an extra? Also, there is a Red Sea excursion, but I am afraid of going alone as I have heard all the warnings and recent kidnap story! Great blog, thank you

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