I hate being ripped off – don’t we all? I probably wouldnt mind it if i was blissfully unaware! Depending on the amount, the scenario plays on repeat in my head until I eventually admit defeat… That could take anything from few hours to a few days!
But what I really hate is when I’m ripped-off out of sheer arrogance rather than need. I have a low tolerance for feeling ‘used’ and this often affects how the rest of my stay in the country pans out.
I’m not saying that the old, toothless taxi driver who ripped me off when I arrived at Sharm El Sheikh airport to Aider Better Life resort last week, is any better than the smug overweight taxi driver who ripped me off last night, from Central bus station in Tel Aviv to Micky’s house. But at least I got a sense that the Egyptian taxi driver could do with the extra money… He wasn’t overweight and smug for a start! Nether the less, I felt ‘used’ from my very arrival in Egypt. Had I not met some of the nicest, genuine people, I could have let this incident of being over charged by 100 Egytpian pounds (£10 approx) ruin my stay in Egypt.
It’s almost the same scenario I’ve experienced here in Israel! I found out that the taxi driver last night over charged me by about 50-40 NIS (£10 aprox). And where as I’m sure the Israeli taxi driver also has a family to feed just like the Egyptian taxi driver I took in Sharm, I feel more so used (dare I say abused) because Israel is a developed country and this taxi driver intentionally, out of spite, chose to take advantage of the fact that I’m a foreigner so he called his price which was sky high! I’m even more p***ed off at the fact that he was so arrogant about taking me in the first place. Saying that he didn’t know the street of my friend’s home… For a developed country you’d think he would have heard of GPS. Turns out he had one in the car, so the only other reasoning behind not wanting to take me could be because of – hell I’ll just say it – my colour! Israeli’s are no angels ok. I’ve heard about how Africans are treated here so I’m just being realistic.
Anyway, the point is that, both trips started with me getting ripped off!
However in Egypt I learnt not close myself away from the people even after a not so pleasant start. And it payed off! I met Islam, who I can call a very good friend, at the bus station from Sharm El Sheikh to Cairo. He kept me company for the whole journey, and even took me by taxi to where my host, Riham was waiting for me at Roxy. I since met up with Islam when he took me to downtown Cairo on my last day and I got my first shisha experience in Cairo!
It might be far fetched to expect such a unique experience in Egypt of meeting total strangers who have become my bestest friends, to happen also in Israel. I noticed a huge difference in attitudes from the moment I crossed the border. Israeli’s are very Western. I could be back in London basically! Whereas this is great because it means things are modern and more advanced, sadly like most western countries the people are cold. There is less genuine kindness than in developing counties (though I think Egypt is pretty developed so I’m thankful the majority of the people still have a genuine kindness, even – maybe more so – towards strangers). And although religion has a part to play in it (Islam teaches about giving to the poor), I felt it was more of a human instinct to be giving and caring (I’ll write more about this in another post).
But it’s not all bad in Israel! I met some amazing people through couchsurfing when came here two years ago. And perhaps because I didn’t have any issues getting ripped off by taxi drivers, I loved it! So I must keep this positive vibe alive that I’m back here because I enjoyed it so much so the first time around. 🙂
And no taxi driver is going to ruin this experience for me!.. Not even the fat arrogant one from last night (fine, not fat, just overweight so he overcharged)! I hope he enjoys all the falafels and hummus he can buy in Yafo with the tip he gave himself on my expense!
Speaking of which, I’ll head there now… But I think I’ll avoid any taxis and walk!
Fingers crossed I have a better experience from now on!