Tourist silliness

The Italian motorcyclists at Ain Guba (Cleopatra Spring). A strange sight among the palms, like leather dressed creatures arriving from Mars. I wonder, do you stop being a tourist yourself once you find the behaviour of other tourists strange?

In Siwa I take photographs almost daily, but I am no longer a tourist. Yet I will never see things from the same perspective as a Siwan native, or even from the same perspective as an Egyptian from outside Siwa, so I am in an unusual position. As my second home / office is a café at Cleopatra Spring, a place famous for its beauty and history and thus a tourist magnet, I have become fascinated by the behaviour of tourists there.

Some stay for an hour or more, swim and relax, others come, take a few photos, and leave after five or ten minutes. The tourists also do some strange things and often look very strange, for example the motor bike riders who come in packs, in complete bike leathers.

Many of the women visitors are more interested in shopping in the small bazaar attached to the café than in enjoying the atmosphere. There are those who just want to slow off their diving skills, including one young woman who climbed onto the roof of a covered donkey cart to jump into the pool – it seems a run and dive from the edge of the pool to the water a metre below was not challenging enough for her.

Then there are tourists who are more interested in having their photo taken with their friends at a café table, sitting with a glass of juice which has a little paper umbrella decorating it, than in being photographed standing next to with the beautiful spring pool. T., as café owner, has been aware of this strange tourist inclination for years, and always decorates cool drinks resort style with a slice of fruit and a cocktail umbrella.

Egyptians, especially the young ones, often drag me into their photos, they love having their pictures taken with foreigners. My light hair and eyes are an instant attraction for them. I just try to make sure they understand I live in Siwa but came from Australia, and I hope none of them are going back home and declaring this is what a Siwan woman looks like… At least it gives me a chance to chat with some of them and learn more about their lives and aspirations, and sometimes about their view of Siwa and of foreigners.

Now I have seen a blog that shows other people share my amusement / bemusement at the doings of tourists. It sends up tourist poses by having another tourist, or maybe even a local, standing in the same pose next to the tourist/s who are having their picture taken. If that sounds confusing, you will understand with a look at: taking pictures next to tourists taking pictures

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