Our arrival in Luxor was something of a [crap]show. We had no less than 5 random guys jumping into and out of our van, some claiming to be representatives of travel companies that some of the passengers were using, others saying nothing, and still others telling me and Karol that the hostel we were going to (The Bob Marley Hostel) was “closed” and then offering to let us speak to the “manager” whom they had already pre-called on their cellphones. None of the men had uniforms or showed any sort of identification.
One of the first rules of backpacking is that you don’t believe people when they tell you the hostel/attraction/store/etc that you’re looking for is closed. It’s not. They just want your business somewhere else – somewhere where they get a cut of what you spend. So we spent something like 30 minutes driving through Luxor in this tourist clown car, men jumping in and out at random, trying to make it clear that we didn’t care what they said about the hostel, that talking to a disembodied cellphone voice wouldn’t be enough to convince us that it was closed, and that we could talk when we saw for ourselves that it was in fact not open.
Eventually they offered to take us to the Bob Marley to show us that it was closed. We were going to stay with Leah and Sean, so Karol offered to get out while the rest of us watched our bags and made sure we still had a van to drive us should the whole closed-hostel situation be a total crock (we didn’t want the van to drive off, stranding us with the touts).
We circled the block to drop off the last of the non-Bob Marley Hostel people, and when we came back 5-10 minutes later, Karol was gone. I immediately got concerned – he had exited the van with a total stranger, in a city we didn’t know, with none of his stuff and no way to contact us – and grabbed our stuff and jumped out to wait at the corner in case he came back.
It was probably a stupid idea on my part, but as it turns out he was just down the block being shown an ‘alternate’ place to stay. Apparently the Bob Marley really was under renovation and wouldn’t have been a suitable place to stay in, so we spent one night at the place the touts kept trying to get us to stay and then moved down the road to a hotel with better atmosphere and reputation.
The next day we walked something like 5k in 95F+ heat to visit Karnak, where Karol, who’s Polish, got extremely excited by the presence of a Polish tour group. I got an overpriced veggie burger and fries on the walk back, but damn was it nice to be eating some real food.