We’ve just come back from two weeks in Egypt. Because it was so memorable, I can imagine that years from now we’ll be sitting around talking about the trip, and the conversation will go something like this:
I loved Egypt.
Even though that was the trip where we almost got killed just a few minutes out of the airport, right? The taxi driver leaned over to twiddle some knob on the dashboard just as we entered a tunnel, and he veered over so far he almost crashed into the wall. I looked up and screamed, remember?
Good thing you did. If you hadn’t, we’d have bounced off it, spun around, maybe hit by a truck from behind, who knows?
Wasn’t the traffic in Cairo awful? Remember how we had to cross lanes and lanes of moving traffic at the big intersections? One time a lady grabbed your hand and asked if you wanted to cross. We just followed her, dodging the cars all the way.
That was really nice of her. After that we just took taxis wherever we wanted to go.
Probably saved our lives, though we were stuck in traffic a lot.
We took the subway a few times, though. Remember how we jumped on the train at Giza and everyone was staring at us?
You mean the one where there was only women? And how finally one woman told us that the car was reserved for women only, and that I had to leave?
That was funny. They were smiling and laughing all the time, though.
Pretty girls. There were a lot of pretty faces there, the ones you could see, anyway.
I remember being surprised at all the veils. When I was there 30 years before, there were hardly any wearing the veil.
It was a great trip. I loved the food, even though each one of us got bad guts at one point.
In Dahab, you were so sick we had to leave you in bed and go fetch a doctor! He made a house call in our hotel room. Remember how he gave you two jabs, one in the butt, the other in the arm? You felt a lot better the next day with all that medicine though, eh?
I loved Dahab. I’ll never forget the feeling of finally getting there after that long bus ride, flopping our stuff in that simple hotel room, then crossing the way to the cushions on the first floor of the restaurant right on the water. The soft breezes, the palms, the setting sun behind the mountains… it was so idyllic.
But then after a few days the wind whipped up, though, and it was cooler. We couldn’t go snorkelling anymore.
The snorkelling! All those fish…
And we ate so often at that restaurant. What was it? Aladdin. They were so friendly. You know that place was only about 100 metres away from where 23 people were killed in a terror attack about 4 years before we were there?
I’m glad it didn’t scare us away. I felt completely safe the whole time.
What I liked about Dahab was how quiet the place was. It was before the peak of the tourist season, so the place was mostly empty.
It was quiet in the desert, too. Remember how we slept under the stars in the White Desert surrounded by all those mountains?
I remember the limestone formations.
That was the second night, wasn’t it?
Yes, but the first night there were limestone cliffs, and don’t you remember the incredibly white limestone spread out on the desert floor? It was like walking on cake icing. We picked up a fossil or two, and also some black rocks that turned out to be iron pyrites. They were heavy as hell.
The oasis coming back – what was it called, Bahariyya? Funny how it rhymes with what we all had at one sooner or later…
Remember the lentil soup? It was the same…
At Bahariyya, remember how we had to sit around at a gas station there for so long because they’d run out of gas, and there was nearly a riot as everyone started arguing about who was going to be first to get the gas when the truck finally filled the station’s tanks?
That was wild. I’m glad the little red-haired girl got to see all that, even though I thought they really going to start swinging at one point.
I’m not sure what I’d call my favourite part of that trip. What was the best part for you?
Dahab. The snorkelling was just as I remember it 30 years before. I could have stayed in the water the whole day just watching those fish and looking at all that coral.
I liked the desert. The White Desert was like being in another world. Sort of like Cappadocia without all the tourists milling about.
Remember how that guy tried to scam us on the way to the Pyramids? He said he had an Australian wife and three kids?
Oh yeah. We nearly believed him for a while. You can’t call that a highlight, though.
Sure you can. It’s the real Egypt. I bet if you went there today, the scammers would still be feeding you the same lines. It’s part of the country. It’ll never die out.
Part One of Five. Or maybe more.