23 May 2024

Pharaoh he sits in his tower of steel
The dogs of money all at his heel
Magicians cry, Oh Truth! Oh Real
We’re all working for the Pharaoh

A thousand eyes, a thousand ears
He feeds us all, he feeds our fears
Don’t stir in your sleep tonight, my dears
We’re all working for the Pharaoh

Egypt Land, Egypt Land
We’re all living in Egypt land
Tell me, brother, don’t you understand
We’re all working for the Pharaoh

Well, the journey is over. At least one part of the journey is over. The Madventure trip officially ended this morning when we checked out of our hotel. Madventure paid for the hotel but from now on I’m on my own. I booked a wee hotel just a few metres away from the last place and I have a little room with a balcony so I can overlook the pyramids and the sphinx.

It’s pretty interesting being on my own after all this time of intense involvement with the same group of people. I’m generally a pretty solitary person and I’m quite okay in my own company for a long time. I like being around people but I need time to be on my own and recharge my batteries. The converse is also true. If I’ve had too much time on my own, I need to be around people to recharge a different battery. I think that’s what they called an Omnivert; halfway between an introvert and an extrovert. That’s me.

So, for the next few weeks I’ll be travelling around on my own. I’ll be in Cairo now until the 14th, that’s 4 days, and then spending 3 days in Luxor and 2 days in Aswan, where I want to see some old temples. Then on the evening of the 19th, I’ll catch a night sleeper train from Aswan back to Cairo that will get me in on the morning of the 20th, so I’ll have the day in Cairo.

I’ve booked into a hotel near the airport and this will give me a chance to be near the airport and not have to contend with the horrendous traffic in Cairo to catch my plane. My flight leaves at 8:30am on the morning of the 21st and I’ll be right back in Dublin five and 1/2 hours later. I paid a little bit extra to get a non-stop flight because I didn’t want the hassle of waiting around.

There are some very cheap flights available on the search sites but when you factor in extra baggage etc and the long wait, it’s not really much of a bargain. They say a bargain is when you prepare to pay the full price and then you get a discount. I used Trip.com and I got a very good deal from them. So I’m quite happy.

Cairo, Egypt

Well well, I’m in Cairo. What a fascinating City. We left the bus yesterday morning at 10:30 in a minibus with around half a dozen other people. The reason we took the minibus is because the regular bus service was scheduled to leave in the late afternoon and would arrive in Cairo late at night. We didn’t want that. Also the bus journey was scheduled to take 13 hours. There is no train or any other service from Dahab to Cairo so the organiser of the trip had to search around and found this minibus. Also because Dahab is in the south Sinai, which is a very sensitive area, there was a possibility that we would have to wait until a convoy built up and the army would escort us across the South Sinai area. Apparently this is normal but, for some reason, this was not necessary in a minibus. Also the minibus journey was only 9 hours. A no-brainer really.

The journey itself was pretty uneventful. I nodded off a few times but as the seating area was very cramped I couldn’t get comfortable so I listened to an audiobook and my headphones and then some music. There were several military and police checkpoints along the way where a military person would come and check our passports. The driver also gave them some paperwork. I’m not sure what that was.

Apparently there is a new tunnel under the Suez Canal and the security for that was like going into an airport. There were military and police and men with guns all over the place. They were also armoured cars parked in strategic positions. We got to a huge inspection area and we had to get out of the bus and take all our bags off and put them on the floor. Then a guy with a dog came and the dog sniffed inside the van and sniffed all our luggage. I’m guessing they were looking for bombs or explosives. When all this was over, and it wasn’t too long, we went into the bridge and under the Suez canal. The journey was fairly short.

The traffic in Cairo is unbelievable. It’s one of the world’s largest cities and the population is huge. I think most of them are trying to get to the same place at the same time. Or so it seemed.

Cairo’s 2023 population is now estimated at 28,504,352. In 1950, it’s population was 2,493,514. That was the year just before I was born and the population of Ireland was around the same at that time. Cairo has grown by 651,072 in the last year, which represents a 2.34% annual change. These population estimates and projections come from the latest revision of the UN World Urbanisation Prospects. These estimates represent the urban agglomeration of Cairo, which typically includes Cairo’s population in addition to adjacent suburban areas. Just a serious number of people .

It took us hours to get through a small part of the city and we finally arrived at our destination, which was the bus terminus. We then got an Uber from there to our hotel and went up on the roof terrace and had some food. When I sat down one of the waiters came and put a glass of wine on my table. I was just about to give it to somebody else when somebody said it’s hibiscus juice and it’s not alcoholic. I double checked and triple checked to make sure this was the case and had the sip when I was convinced it was not wine. It was heavenly. Really tasty and had a complex slightly spicy fruity flavour. It felt very exotic.

Then I went to bed and crashed out as I was so tired from sitting on my arse and doing SFA. Actually, sitting in an awkward position can be pretty tiring as the body is constantly trying to adjust and tensing and untensing muscles and all this takes energy. There’s also the psychological effect of moving from place to place. I slept like a log last night and today I’m moving out of the hotel booked by Madventure into a hotel I booked myself about a 5 minute walk down the road. It’s far less expensive.

I’m sitting in the cafe now having a cup of excellent Egyptian coffee. Outside the door of the cafe, which is wide open, there is a lot of activity going on. We’re right in the middle of the tourist area and there are camels and guys on horses and little horses and carts shooting up and down at a huge rate of knots. It’s impossible to walk 5 m without somebody saying do you want a taxi, do you want this do you want that. It’s not my manner to tell people to fuck off but that’s what I think. Sometimes I point at my ears and pretend to be deaf. Other times I just walk on and nod ‘no’. I suppose I will get used to it in time and harden.

There’s so much to do to do here in Cario, and there’s so many sites to see, that I’m tempted to run around like a blue arsed fly and wear myself out. However, I’m not going to do that. I’m using today as an opportunity to adjust to the new reality.

I also want to buy a train ticket for my trip to Luxor and to buy some tours around Cairo to see the pyramid etc. Apparently very recently, the Egyptian government have increased fares by 450% for non-Egyptian people. So, if I want to buy a ticket from Cairo to Luxor, I should go to the main train station and go to a special foreigner’s desk and pay for or five times the rate an Egyptian person would pay. However, as always, there’s a way around that. The first stop on the train from Cairo to Luxor is at Al Giza. That’s near where I’m staying at the moment. So I can go down there and buy a ticket and pay in Egyptian pounds instead of paying in US dollars. The economy is in such a terrible state that they are desperate to get foreign currency. Also inflation here is sky high and the Egyptian pound has almost dropped 40% in value in the past few months. That’s why they want dollars. So if I pay in Egyptian pounds I’ll pay a fraction of the price I would pay in dollars. It’s not a huge amount of money but it gives me a sense of satisfaction to pull the wool over the eyes of this tyrannical government.

later on the evening I met up with some friends of Bill W in a very classy and artistic part of Cairo. The meeting was help in a coffeeshop owned by one of the members. Afterwards, we had the meeting after the meeting and it was great craic. Nice to mingle with my tribe again.

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