It's 2:20am in Cairo Airport, and I'll be waiting another 1.5 hrs before my flight begins boarding. Yes, its that incredibly sought after time slot of 4:45am that i'm taking this morning via El Al. Needless to say, Egypt does not give El Al very good windows for travel into and out of the country (my flight in left tel aviv at 1:15am).

I had the chance to return to reality this afternoon/evening, once I dropped off my bags at the hotel bell counter to hold them until the ungodly hour that I needed to travel. I was returning to a land that might have superficially seemed fairly similar to Egypt, but was in fact very different. Whereas Egypt is a fun tourist destination, with little else going on (where the avg person takes home $800 annually), Israel has sort of grown out of that. There's a lot more at stake there. People are less layed back, due to that. Additionally, the threat of terrorism, which is clearly happening in both countries, is taken much more seriously there, than in Egypt. Point in fact: The malls in Egypt require you to walk through a metal detector before gaining entry, as do the Israeli malls. However, if you walk through the "Out" door (which incidentally is very common) no one cares. Most people did that, in fact. Additionally, I recall going through the metal detector in Egypt, having the buzzer go off wildly, and then continuing on, because everyone was doing it. Strange...

The most interesting thing that came to mind was tonight at the airport. Walking in, I realized that Cairo Airport is about as disorganized as the whole of Cairo. On this whole trip, I counted only 2 traffic lights in Cairo, with mayhem on the roads for pedestrians and drivers, a direct result. In the airport, you go through metal detectors before checking in (like in Israel), only they do not tell you which line to go to for particular airlines/flights. Additionally, the same security that was offered in the malls is taken in the airport here. Literally, people who are clearly wearing metal or what have you walk through metal detectors, the buzzers sound, and no one stops them. Its a bit ridiculous.

When I got to the El Al security check they reminded me that Israel is technically at war with Palestinians who have access to Egypt, and thus need to be extra cautious here. They opened my bags and checked every single item, because they do not trust the Egyptian security. Additionally, there have been instances of bag tampering, etc. at top hotels in Cairo, especially on bags going to Israel (supposedly). Thus, El Al is this thorough with everyone and asks passengers to arrive 4 hours early to ensure on-time departure. What a world...

Once I got through security, I went upstairs to the cafeteria to buy a coffee at the local Coffee Bean. The server did not have change for my purchase (it was $15 EGP, I gave him $50 EGP), but offered to find some for me. I thought nothing of it. Then, another American guy who had been sitting there for a while eating/drinking mentioned that he had the same trouble, and that the server asked for the change to be his 'tip' . Apparently he gets away with this... This guy and I went up the server and demanded every last penny of our change, because we were insulted by his approach with foreigners (having observed him do that to an old european women moments prior to the outburst). Why is it reasonable for these guys to try to cheat me out of $35 EGP. We're not talking loads of cash here, maybe $7. Its just crazy...

Hope to be leaving soon. I will try to stay awake for another 1+ hour. Thanks for listening...