In my desperate attempt to see everything I can in Egypt before I f*** off for good – oh yes, I can’t wait! – Marie-Eve, Mario and I went to Alexandria last weekend, as none of us had ever been there and it’s meant to be a cool Egyptian city... Well at least, it’s got history. Anyway, what was meant to be a lovely day trip ended up being a nightmare! We first turned up at Cairo train station at eight o’clock that sunny Friday morning to buy tickets for the nine o’clock train, as many colleagues had told us we didn’t need to book tickets in advance because the carriages are never full... A fact which is certainly true in mid-winter but happens to be far from reality in June, when Cairo people flee the summer heat to the Northern – cooler – coast. All trains to Alexandria were fully booked that morning and we decided to play it the Egyptian way: we got on without tickets and hoped for the best... Obviously, people started sitting down according to their ticket allocations and we started dreading a two hours train journey standing... Luckily, three seats remained vacant in our carriage and we were able to enjoy the journey. However, we learnt our lesson and as soon as we arrived at Alexandria station, we decided to buy tickets for the return journey in the evening. No surprise, all the trains to Cairo were fully booked. Nevermind, we’ll do the same we did in the morning, now let’s enjoy our day in Alex – as Egyptian people call it.
Well, you probably all heard about Alexandria and how it used to be the centre of Mediterranean culture with its huge lighthouse and its wonderful library... back in the Ancient World era that is... Nowadays, Alex is just a mini version of Cairo: busy, chaotic, and dirty. What a disappointment – but certainly yet another reason to get the f*** out of this country! Ok, I’m a bit harsh here. It’s not as bad as Cairo and there’s a seaside resort feel about the city which gives it a lot of charm, but I guess my expectations were quite high and Alex certainly didn’t meet them. Apart from a couple of lovely greenish squares and a few old buildings reminding people of the city’s heroic past, it looks pretty dull. We first visited Fort Qaitbey, which is a citadel at the entrance of Alexandria harbour from where you get a fantastic view of the city. We went on to see a couple of old mosques which were actually beautiful and we went down to the Catacombs of Kom es-Shoqafa – 30 metres underground – where more than 300 Egyptian, Greek and Roman tombs were found at the beginning of the twentieth century. We decided to finish our day trip with what is meant to be Alexandria gem: the library. We turned up at the library and obviously, it was closed! Apparently, it’s closed on Fridays, when the library’s website says it’s open daily... The only thing that was supposed to take our breaths away was closed, that’s shit!
Now, the sun was setting on Alexandria and we had to think about going back to Cairo. We had spent most of the day walking around in the sun, we were quite shattered, and the thought of spending a two hours train journey standing – if we couldn’t find seats on the train back – was rather dreadful to the three of us, so we decided to take a taxi back home. It would be more than twice the price of a train ticket but it would be more comfortable. We found a taxi which looked comfy and whose driver looked friendly, we agreed on the price and off we drove to Cairo... that is until we got a flat tyre on the motorway! At this point, we knew we had made the wrong decision. It was ten o’clock at night and we were 50 kilometres away from Alex, in the middle of nowhere – there wasn’t a single building in sight and we could hear dogs barking in the distance. The taxi driver – being Egyptian – didn’t have a spare tyre in his car and called a friend to bring us one. So we started waiting on the roadside, looking at all the cars speeding by and feeling shit really... His friend only turned up at midnight! By then, we were exhausted and frustrated. We only arrived in Cairo at half past three in the morning, as we got stopped by many roadworks on the way... No need to say I went straight to bed when I got home.
Now, the day my mother left, I realised how shit life is to me... Oh no, not because she left and I was sad about it, but because I had a “domestic accident” on the very same night she had just gone, and God knows I could have done with someone being there with me. Here’s what happened: on the day she left, my friend Marianne called and asked if I fancied going downtown for a drink in the evening. You bet I did, I had just spent a whole week playing good son, and I was ready for some fun – well, as much fun as you can get in Cairo anyway... ok, just a drink then! So that night, we went to one of the few bars where you can buy alcohol – I know, we are wild, right? – and we drank quite a few beers. At around one o’clock in the morning, I went back home – it might sound early to party animals out there, but there’s been a curfew in Egypt since the Revolution and after two o’clock, finding a taxi is a nightmare! Anyway, I went straight to bed and at around three in the morning I woke up as I was desperate for the toilet. I’m not really sure about what happened just then, but it was pitch dark when I got up and I seem to have tripped and hit my head on the corner of my bedside table. All I can remember is a flash of lightening and a massive pain as I banged my head. When I woke up – I’m not sure how long I stayed unconscious! – there was blood everywhere on the floor and I could feel dry blood all over my face. I looked in the mirror and saw a bleeding gash above my left eye. Great! Now, for people who know me, there won’t be any surprise if I tell you that my first thought was to clean the floor! Yes, I couldn’t stand this mess, I had to clean it! Once my bedroom was tidy again, I had to think about my wound... It was three o’clock in the morning, the curfew meant that I wasn’t likely to find a taxi outside, and even if I did, there would be a lot of police checkpoints to go through, and I didn’t know any hospital around... Ok, maybe I should have gone out and tried to get some stitches anyway – as I clearly needed some! – but I was so tired and I couldn’t be bothered with the whole curfew business, that I took a towel, wrapped it around my forehead and I went back to bed.
The next morning, I got up, got dressed and went straight away to my GP to have my wound checked – no worries, I had removed the towel, I didn’t want to look stupid! Unfortunately, as I had feared, the GP said it was too late for stitches, as the healing process had started and my wound was too dry, which meant I had to leave it until it was completely healed... except that, without stitches, it wasn’t going to look good. And indeed, it doesn’t! A month and a bit later, I now have a beautiful one inch long red scar above my left eye... It’s ugly, but I’m not that bothered about the way it looks, what really pisses me off is the fact that every time I’ll see it in the mirror, it will remind me of my year in Egypt, and it’s far from being the best year of my life! That’s shit!
Over the Easter holidays, my mother came to visit. I was really happy to see her and looking forward to our planned holiday cruise on the Nile for the next five days. When she first arrived in Cairo, I took her to a silver shop where many of my colleagues and I usually go to get some presents for people. What a mistake! My mother is so difficult to please when it comes to jewellery, and she can be so tactless sometimes. Even though I’m not their best client, the salespeople know me and I was so ashamed of my mother’s comments, like “this is ugly”, “there’s not enough choice”, “they don’t have what I like”, etc. I was looking apologetically at the manager, who was smiling back and jokingly muttering “I don’t want to see her ever again”... Well I hope he was joking anyway. Oops.
On Friday morning, we flew to Aswan at 4am, as we had to catch a 10am bus to Abu Simbel, on Lake Nasser, which was the first site we were to visit. We were already quite shattered by the 1am waking up, but the 3 hour bus ride from Aswan to Abu Simbel just finished us off. Abu Simbel is really impressive, and we were really lucky, as there were very few tourists around.
In the evening, we went to Aswan’s bazaar for a bit of shopping and everyone there thought I was my mum’s gigolo. It was so funny, they kept on telling my mum: “Well done, you found yourself a nice young lad!” I was actually quite flattered to see people assumed I was some kind of expensive whore, but my mum got really offended and kept on telling them: “No, no, he’s my son!” And the vendors would reply with a grin: “yes, of course he is!” A bit later in the evening, my mum actually made a blunder when we visited a jewellery shop: many people were in there laughing and we soon realised two Arab families were marrying their son and daughter and were there to choose the rings for them. The mother of the groom turned to my mum and, pointing at the two youngsters, proudly said: “My son is getting married to this beautiful girl!” I don’t know what came to my mother, but she looked at the couple to be and suddenly shouted in the whole shop: “Kiss!... Kiss!...” At this point, I could see all the faces turning to us in shock, I was so ashamed. In a country where women wear headscarves and couples barely hold hands in the street, asking two people to kiss in public is like asking someone to run naked in a supermarket! Well done, mum! No need to say we left the shop straight away, fearing we might get lynched by hysteric grannies!
The next day, we started our Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor. I guess anyone who’s ever done a Nile cruise has seen exactly the same sites we visited: Aswan, Philae, Kom Ombo and Edfu temples, the Valley of the Queens, the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Hatchepsut, Karnak, Luxor... The nice thing though was that there were very few tourists around – we’ve got the Egyptian Revolution to thank for it – and it was lovely to visit empty sites, it felt like private tours.
When we came back to Cairo, my mother wanted to see the main touristic places in Cairo, so we went to the Pyramids of Giza, the National Museum and the Souk... places I have already been to so many times since September, but hey, what wouldn’t you do for your mum, right?
Now, you may wonder what happened after my trip to Mount Sinai – or not. Well, I’ll tell you anyway. As Mubarak resigned and things started to get back to normal in Cairo, our school reopened. Isabelle, my flatmate, came back from Canada on Friday 25 February, only to pack her bags and leave for good the next week, as she had experienced modern civilisation back home and couldn’t stand to come back to chaos and dirt. I couldn’t really blame her, even though I was quite sad to say goodbye to my shortest flat share to date – 1 month! Ouch. Anyway, things have been really quiet here – what a surprise! My only highlight every week has been my trip to the gym to attend a body combat class – not your idea of a fun place to be, right?
Last week, we had a bank holiday weekend and Mario and I decided to go and have some fun somewhere – real fun I mean: drinking and partying all weekend! Obviously, we had to leave Egypt for that... and we didn’t want to waste time on long flights, so Europe was a no go. We compared prices and decided to go to... Beirut, Lebanon. Many colleagues had told us it was a real Middle Eastern gem and a great place to party, so off we went for a three day weekend of booze and fun, or so we hoped. When we first arrived at the airport, we were pleasantly surprised, as the whole place was slickly modern and spotlessly clean, unlike what we experience on a daily basis in Cairo. And our experience of Beirut just confirmed that we both made the wrong choice when we decided to go and work in Egypt: Beirut rocks! This is such a great city, a mixture of East and West, with a very liberal crowd: there were women wearing skirts in the streets – when you’re looking for women behind headscarves and burkas in Cairo! –, there were bars at every corner – when only two shops are authorised to sell alcohol in my Cairo borough! –, there was a genuine variety in the architecture of the buildings - when all the blocks of flats in Cairo have these dull brownish looks!... Beirut basically offers everything Cairo doesn’t!
As we were walking on the pavement – yes, another thing Cairo hasn’t got! – we felt like we were in any modern European city – except we were not in Europe – and it felt great. Now I have to be honest with you, and what really made me fall in love with this city is its beautiful people... Ok, objectively, they’re not more beautiful than in any other Arab people, but unlike Egyptian people in Egypt, they actually look clean and neat, and it does make a difference!
At some point, we were in a bar and I was eyeing the waiter up, when a gym queen came to me, said I was handsome and asked if I fancied going back to his place later on... Please, why do you bother with the handsome bit, when all you want is my arse?! Anyway, I politely turned his offer down, when he told me “my boyfriend” could join in if I wanted to... Oh my, he actually thought Mario and I were a couple, and yet he tried to pull me, what a dirty little slag! After a second polite negative response from me, he went to a waiter – not the one I fancied –, chatted to him and eventually came back, saying the waiter was ok for a foursome... OMG, out of all places, who would have thought I’d be offered a foursome in Beirut?! I had to say yes or he would have kept up asking people around for a gigantic gang bang!!!... Only joking, I said I wasn’t interested and he got the message, well at least he didn’t speak to me after that. But it was a funny experience, and the funniest thing is that when I told Mario – oh yes, because he was chatting someone up at the other end of the bar while all this was happening – he actually said I should have agreed, as he quite fancied the gym queen... What a dirty little slag!
Anyway, we had a fantastic weekend, and I must say I was very sad to leave wonderful Beirut and go back to boring Cairo... but the positive thing is that this whole trip completely changed my opinion about the Middle East and made me realise there are some great places out there!
So where was I ?... Oh Yes, our trip to Dahab! What a great experience… When we arrived at our hotel on Tuesday 8 February, there were about ten guests, it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves… Because of what was happening in Cairo, tourists had fled and the hotel staff were feeling quite down. We even found out that most of the employees had been sent home. It was a weird feeling. However, the place was gorgeous and there wasn’t a single kid in the swimming pool… Bonus!
On Wednesday 9 February, we all went to bed at 7pm, as we had to wake up at 12am for a night trip to Mount Sinai. The aim was to reach the top – 2285 metres high – before 6am in order to watch the sunrise – apparently one of the most beautiful things you can see in Egypt. So we all got up at midnight – we were all pretty shattered! – and we took a minibus to the foot of Mount Sinai, where 5 camels were waiting for us… Yes, you read it well: we climbed Mount Sinai by camel at around 2am! It was the weirdest experience, as it was pitch dark and we couldn’t really see anything around us – although we could smell our camels! –, but at the same time, you could actually feel that there were cliffs and steep slopes right next to your feet – or rather your camel’s feet… Quite frightening at times! And there was something we didn’t think about, which is the fact that Mount Sinai being a mountain, the higher you climb the colder it gets… and gosh did it get cold! Freezing even.
After an hour and a half of camel riding in the dark – and the weird sensation I’d never be able to get children – , we ended up at the bottom of a flight of 750 steps leading to the top of the mountain… By then, it was almost 4am, we were definitely exhausted – yes I know, we hadn’t actually climbed the mountain ourselves but try to stay on a camel’s back for an hour and a half… Ouch! Anyway, off we climbed the 750 steps and waited for the sun to rise in one of the little cabins built at the top for tourists. The temperature up there was about 4°C and fortunately some Egyptians were renting blankets to silly tourists like us who just assume, because they’re in Egypt, that the weather’s always warm… With these blankets on, we just looked like refugees waiting for the next boat to freedom! Quite funny... But then, when the sun rose, the sight that was offered to us was really worth the early awakening, the sterilising ride and the shattering climb... Once up there, above the clouds, looking at the sun rising, you almost feel that you are alone on the top of the world! It’s just beautiful!
Ok, so now we had caught a glimpse of eternity and felt completely rejuvenated, our guide told us that all we had to do was climb down – that was 750 steps plus 3000 more that the camels climbed for us earlier that day – in order to reach St Katherine’s Monastery, which was built right at the foot of Mount Sinai... You can imagine our faces! At this point in our journey, we only wanted to go to bed! So off we went, climbing down, and down, and down... until we saw St Katherine’s Monastery in the distance, and it almost made us want to convert! After a two hour descent, we were so happy to see it at last, and felt our martyrdom was ending... This is actually a lovely monastery, lost in between mountains, with a very peaceful garden. After a quick visit, we went back to the hotel and spent the day sleeping...
The rest of our stay was spent sunbathing and playing cards by the pool. On the last day, we found out about the hotel masseur and, one by one, experienced a bit of pampering... What an unforgettable trip!
This one should be quite long, as I have not written for a while and a lot has happened since my last post, as you may have heard on the news – unless you were hibernating or you are just plain sh*t.
Everything started on Tuesday 25 January. While the first protests were occurring in the streets of Cairo, my flatmate (Isabelle)’s family turned up, as they were meant to come and visit for a couple of weeks. You’re probably thinking “what a crap time for a holiday in Egypt” but they had planned it back in September and little did they know this would happen. Just to let you know, when I say “Isabelle’s family”, I should actually say “Isabelle’s tribe”, as five of them turned up: her mother (Clémence) and father (Luc), her aunt (Denise) and uncle (Jocelyn), and her best friend (Nancy). Yes, we were the seven of us staying in a two bedroom flat! That is Isabelle, Nancy, Denise and Jocelyn sleeping in Isabelle’s room, Clémence and Luc sleeping in my room, and me sleeping on the sofa... I know, I’m super altruistic, right? Well, it’s more the fact that I wanted to be able to watch TV at night without waking people up. I know, I’m sad. Anyway, they were all very happy to be here and ready for two weeks of exciting holidays... Oh dear...
On Wednesday 26 January, protests were going on in the city centre but no one was really worried and Isabelle’s family went to visit the Pyramids for the day without any trouble.
On Thursday 27 January, tensions started to be felt among Egyptian people, the news were constantly hammering pictures and comments about what was happening, and everyone started to feel a bit worried. Isabelle’s family visited the old part of the city, once again without any trouble.
On Friday 28 January, I woke up and tried to use the Internet... in vain. We first thought our connection was being shit. We called Mario, who had the same issue, and while speaking to him on the phone, our conversation was cut short... WTF?! Now we really started to freak out! No Internet, no phone, and the news were not good. Isabelle’s family had left an hour before to go and visit Cairo Museum... and they came back thirty minutes later, as the roads were blocked and authorities were preventing people from entering the city centre. Should we panic? We eventually opted for a relaxing day at home but our minds were not really at rest. I must admit I really freaked out that day, as we heard gunshots for the first time and the news were talking about looters and criminals being at large in the city. We found out that many Egyptians were turning into vigilantes in order to protect their neighbourhoods.
On Saturday 29 January, phone connections were back and I managed to call my mother to reassure her... Well actually, I needed to be reassured, and my voice was certainly trembling on the phone as I was telling her that everything was fine and she did not need to worry... (“HELP!” I was shouting inside...) The day was really long and boring, the curfew was set from 3pm to 9am, so we went out at 11am to do some vital food shopping. Vigilantes were everywhere, carrying improvised weapons made out of kitchenware, what a strange sight. We had to queue for ages for some basic items such as bread and sugar, people were really worried but there was nothing to do but wait, and the flat started to feel really small... How long before the first family fight?
On Sunday 30 January, we (French expats) were to attend a meeting with the ambassador in order to get news and instructions about what to do. I jumped in a taxi with Marie and Marie-Christine, and on our way, we saw a horrible scene of street justice: some vigilantes had bound and gagged three people (probably some looters) and were beating them up. Not for the faint-hearted. I had to do some more shopping, as I had six people starving at home, and queued for ages in a supermarket, looking at my watch every other minute as the curfew was to start at 1pm. Yes, this was earlier and earlier every day, and it didn’t help feeling optimistic! Once home, I found Clémence and Denise smoking on the balcony, Luc snoring on the sofa, Jocelyn and Nancy reading on the dining table and Isabelle getting busy in the kitchen... What the f*** am I doing in here with this people?! As lovely as they were, I felt like I was experiencing the Blitz, when families had to shelter in cellars and live there for days... except that none of them were family and it just felt really awkward. Well, at least we had some bonding sessions playing cards and watching TV together... Try to fit seven people on a sofa, and then you really get to know them intimately!
On Monday 31 January, Isabelle and her tribe were contacted by the Canadian embassy which was starting to evacuate its expats. They agreed to be evacuated on Wednesday 2 February, and I started to freak out because I couldn’t bear the thought of staying on my own, with the shouting and gunshots going on outside at night... When it’s happening and you have people around, it’s scary, but when you’re on your own, you’re just sh*tting yourself! Well, I would anyway... So I decided to get in touch with Marie and Marie-Christine (who share a three bedroom flat) and ask them for a crash pad waiting for the whole thing to finish.
On Tuesday 1 February, I said goodbye to my short-lived experience with my new family/friends, and moved into a massive three bedroom flat with only two flatmates to share the sofa with, it felt liberating! Well, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t actually sad to leave my Canadian flatmates... We did bond, and I was worried about Isabelle, as I didn’t know when she’d be back and how this whole thing would end up. I could be evacuated myself later on for all I knew... Anyway, I was now feeling like a hobo, but tried to enjoy my new flat share.
On Wednesday 2 February, Isabelle and her tribe went to the airport for their evacuation: it was apparently overcrowded and stressful, they ended up stranded there and only left two days later. But that’s a story only Isabelle can tell. As for the Maries and me, we had fun and got fatter and fatter: we spent our days cooking and eating, as the curfew hours were getting longer and longer – from 1pm to 9am on the worst days of the crisis! We started to be a bit scared when the news mentioned foreigners being targeted by pro-Mubarak protesters as being the evil guys behind the whole crisis! Yeah right, we’re staying in and stuffing our faces every day, do we really look like evil plotters?!
On Sunday 6 February, some of you might have seen me on the French news, as I was attending another French expats meeting. So exciting! Yeah I know, it’s actually sad, but you have to remember that I was barely having a life on those days, and everything revolved around my meals... You can’t imagine how many times the Maries and I watched the video online!
On Monday 7 February, we could no longer stand the boredom and decided to book a holiday somewhere in Egypt for the rest of the week... the cheapest deal we could find was a holiday in Dahab, a small resort on the Red Sea, not far from Sharm El Sheik. So we packed our suitcases and looked forward to our well deserved peace under the sun... F*** the Revolution!
First of all, a very happy new year to you all! I hope you had a great time over the holidays.
Ok, I haven’t written for ages but my life was rather dull at the end of last year… After my funky trip to the Western Desert, I only spent another weekend away to the White Desert and the Black Desert, and that was about it. For those of you who might wonder, these deserts have such names because they are made of white and black rocks, it’s quite impressive. Here are some pictures:
The main event of last term was that my boiler broke down at the end of November and my shitty landlady wanted me to pay for the repair, despite our contract clearly stating that she’s in charge of fixtures and repairs. We had a three weeks fight over this matter – yes, that is three weeks I spent taking cold showers! I literally had to wander naked in my flat for ten minutes before getting in the shower, as I found out that once I was cold anyway the contact with cold water wouldn’t give me so much of a shock... Psycho, I know! In the end, I had to make my school interfere and put pressure on the b*tch, who eventually agreed to take care of it. This “incident” made me realise 2 things: 1. I had to do something about my flat situation and 2. I felt really lonely in this unwelcoming society... No need to be a psychiatrist to see that I desperately needed a flat share. And along came Isabelle, my colleague from the French department, who was more than happy to divide her rent by two, and who shares my love for booze and rom coms. Perfect match!
So here I am, in my new flat, with my new flatmate and her two cats – yes, it seems to be a recurring theme in my life this two cats business... Anyway, they’re both very nice and I think they adopted me as Mélusine – the Sphinx – tends to sit on my lap when I’m working at the computer, and Naïade – the Siamese – tends to lie on me when I’m on the sofa... like right now! So nice to get some affection I must admit... By the way, I now have broadband internet at home, which means that I'll try to be on Skype more often... Here's the name you're looking for: whateverhappenedtodorothy Hope to speak to you soon!
So here I am, in my new flat, with my new flatmate and her two cats – yes, it seems to be a recurring theme in my life this two cats business... Anyway, they’re both very nice and I think they adopted me as Mélusine – the Sphinx – tends to sit on my lap when I’m working at the computer, and Naïade – the Siamese – tends to lie on me when I’m on the sofa... like right now! So nice to get some affection I must admit...
By the way, I now have broadband internet at home, which means that I'll try to be on Skype more often... Here's the name you're looking for: whateverhappenedtodorothy Hope to speak to you soon!
I’ve just come back from fantastic holidays in the Western desert, between Egypt and Libya. Marie, Marie-Christine, Mario and I started with El Alamein – where the Second World War famous battle took place. All the cemeteries and battle remains are quite depressing there but the Mediterranean seaside is gorgeous and you feel like you’re in some Caribbean island. Just for info, our guide told us that, to this day, Great Britain and Germany still refuse to pay for the mine clearance programme, which means a shocking 17 million landmines still remain in the desert and occasionally kill Bedouins. I don’t salute you Cameron and Merkel!
We drove on to Mersa Matrouh, a seaside resort which is meant to be lively and overcrowded in summer... but desperately empty in winter. We got so bored, we just wanted to die! The weather was too bad to swim and there was literally nothing to do. It really felt like walking through a ghost town. Note to self: when travelling through Egypt, always take a board game or a set of playing cards with you! The next day, we arrived in Siwa, a beautiful oasis in the upper part of the Western desert. We watched the beautiful sunset on a salt lake and found a delicious café in town... Well actually all the tourists go to the same café, so nothing amazingly typical there but it’s really nice. Over the four days we stayed there we visited the Fortress – from where the sunset is stunning –, we climbed the Hill of the Dead – where hundreds of Ptolemaic tombs were found –, we wandered in the Oracle Temple – where Alexander the Great came to ask about his future –, we swam in Cleopatra’s Well – where Cleopatra actually never came, but hey you’ve got to please tourists! –, we fought against flies and mosquitoes – and believe me, we lost the battle! – and we ate at a great restaurant – no, not the same one!
We drove on to Mersa Matrouh, a seaside resort which is meant to be lively and overcrowded in summer... but desperately empty in winter. We got so bored, we just wanted to die! The weather was too bad to swim and there was literally nothing to do. It really felt like walking through a ghost town. Note to self: when travelling through Egypt, always take a board game or a set of playing cards with you!
The next day, we arrived in Siwa, a beautiful oasis in the upper part of the Western desert. We watched the beautiful sunset on a salt lake and found a delicious café in town... Well actually all the tourists go to the same café, so nothing amazingly typical there but it’s really nice. Over the four days we stayed there we visited the Fortress – from where the sunset is stunning –, we climbed the Hill of the Dead – where hundreds of Ptolemaic tombs were found –, we wandered in the Oracle Temple – where Alexander the Great came to ask about his future –, we swam in Cleopatra’s Well – where Cleopatra actually never came, but hey you’ve got to please tourists! –, we fought against flies and mosquitoes – and believe me, we lost the battle! – and we ate at a great restaurant – no, not the same one!
On the third day, we went for a jeep safari in the Great Sand Sea, and this was the most exciting experience in my whole life – ok, I’ve got a dull life... We drove up and down sand dunes, we went sand boarding, we swam in hot and cold water ponds right in the middle of the desert – by the way, the hot water pond just stinks of rotten eggs, it’s really disgusting, and once in there, you feel like the water is really greasy... You just want to throw up! At sunset, Ahmed, our guide, took us to the top of a sand hill and prepared some mint tea on a fire. Yes ok, at this point, you might think what the f***, all they did everyday was watching the sunset from a different viewpoint, and you’d be quite right... but let’s face it, we were in the middle of the desert, what the hell do you want to do apart from watching sunsets?!
The last day in Siwa was quite weird because it was Eid, so everything was closed and no one was around. Once again, the ghost town feeling came up. However we rented some bikes at our hotel and off we rode around the oasis, back to Cleopatra’s Well for a last swim and a pomegranate juice. We left Siwa with loads of great memories.
On our journey back, we stopped over at Mersa Matrouh again – as it is unfortunately the easiest option when travelling from Cairo to Siwa and back... but this time round we were lucky and the sunny weather allowed us to go swimming. Still, this seaside resort is shit! We drove back to Cairo yesterday, I was exhausted but very happy about my holidays, which made me realise there’s more to Egypt than Cairo, and thank God for that! I can’t wait for the next trip out!
Yesterday morning, I was picking up my laundry from the rack outside my window, when I dropped a pair of funky boxer shorts – you know, the silvery silky ones – which happened to end up on my downstairs neighbour’s rack. I was facing a dilemma: going straight away – at 7am! – to my neighbour’s to ask for my underwear, or wait until I come back from school – at 3pm... I obviously went for the second option, as I could already picture the awkward situation of me asking a complete stranger for my shiny boxer shorts... so there I was, at around 3pm, knocking at my downstairs neighbour’s door... An old woman wearing a headscarf half opened the door and suspiciously looked at me. Great, I thought, she’s a proper Egyptian, it’s going to be fun! So I dared a smile, introduced myself and shyly asked “Hum... have you found something on your laundry rack this morning? I think I may have dropped a piece of clothing...” At this point, I thought she would just throw it at my face with revulsion and ask me to take this sinful item away... but she only pulled a face and replied “No, sorry, no clothes, nothing”... What a f***ing bitch! She blatantly lied to my face! I’m pretty sure she found my underwear and threw it away, or worse, she just decided that it was nice and gave it to her husband!... I was so annoyed I could have punched her face!
On Friday, Isabelle, Marie, Marie-Christine, Marie-Eve, Mario and I went to City Stars, which is the biggest shopping centre in Cairo, and I must say that I was quite disappointed, as this is just your typical super giant American mall with all the high street shops selling items at Western prices... Nothing exotic about this place, I’m telling you! I still bought a couple of shirts and scarves though, as I got carried away by the atmosphere of the place, and couldn’t resist the temptation... Oh well...
On Thursday night, Cynthia called me to ask if I fancied a night out with her friends at a karaoke bar in town. You bet I did! As if my Egyptian social life allowed me to be picky... An hour later, I entered this dodgy bar where right from the entrance, a bunch of prostitutes are trying – really hard – to get your attention and your cash. It was gloomy and weird, but gosh didn’t I sing my heart out on the stage! After a couple of beers, I was shaking my ass to “Baby one more time” and “Summer nights”... At around midnight, Cynthia offered to go to a club downtown, and off we went. Once there we met up with Cecile, David, JB and Samira, who are apparently spending every Thursday night there and know the staff so well that they kiss everyone goodbye when they leave... Anyway, it felt so good to dance again; I stayed on the dance floor from midnight to 3am, dancing nonstop! When I left, my shirt was soaking wet and I was shattered... but so happy...