Another scamming story

We had a great time in Munich and experienced and learned a whole lot.  I really like Germany.  First, though, I wanted to describe an experience I had regarding the money-scamming topic with an international twist.

Three and half years ago Agi and I went to Egypt for a week over Christmas with her parents and brother.  As soon as we arrived in the chaotic Cairo airport our Egyptian tour guide for the week Mahmoud came up to our tour group of about 20 people. He explained to us all that he was having problems getting half of the necessary visas we needed to put in our passports because one of his $100 bills has a tear in it.  Therefore, in order for us to clear customs and immigration he needs to get a different $100 bill.  There weren't any ATM machines available nearby for him and so could any of us loan him the money just for a couple hours?...

Almost immediately, every single other person in our tour group (all Hungarians except for me) either smiled and chuckled, turned away or just shook their head.  Mahmoud looked crestfallen and desperate and I started to feel a bit bad for the poor guy.  Agi and I walked over to him and I asked him: "So you're our tour guide?  For the entire week, right? Why can't you get any more money yourself?"  After hearing his explanations--all delivered very passionately and convincingly--I pulled out $100 and gave it over to him while the Hungarians were shaking their heads and apparently a number were mumbling "ah, foolish, idealistic American."

What happened? Mahmoud disappeared for a bit... but did come back and went on to be a good tour guide for the rest of the week.  I could also tell that he appreciated I had trusted him.  (And since the U.S. had just invaded Iraq I was hoping to play a small part in improving international relations).  The funny thing is, though, that after we spent a great week in Egypt and interacted with many locals, Agi and I know I probably would be fifty times more skeptical this time around.  And now a Hungarian got us, but that's ok.

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