When it appears that something is happening in Egypt – most likely nothing is happening in Egypt. When you think something is going to happen in Egypt – most likely it isn’t. We live in a kind of twilight zone. We always have one way or another, just our physical or economic survival was not so ‘on the line’ prior to 2011. Is our survival on the line? Honestly, I have no idea. Part of me sees what is happening on a level that is like seeing into another dimension and part of me looks at the bank account. When you live a daily existence between those two dimensions – one thing is for sure, you never get bored!
If you got past that first paragraph – well done! I spent the last two days in Cairo – again an entirely different world to my now daily life in Luxor. The traffic is overwhelming there but invigorating – “Where are all those people coming and going from?” Again, as when I used to spend a lot of time in Cairo I compared it to what I hear on the media and cannot reconcile the two Cairos. Everyone going about daily life as normal. I travelled from the airport to Downtown and from Downtown to other parts over the two days – I travelled alone, no problem, no hassle – apart from the traffic congestion I could have been in Cork. No sign of mayhem, murder or chaos (apart from the traffic that is!)
The hotel manager was a little downcast. He has a small hotel and been mostly alone for the last 3 months, now paying from his savings to cover the expenses such a electric, water and cleaning – wondering if he should just close down. Again, for him it is the uncertainty that is effecting him the worst. But as he said to me……in Cairo the tourism is small anyway and their absence means little to the majority there.
We don’t know if the tourists are coming back – in a way I have settled into a daily routine without them that is easy and comfortable. I wonder if my days of sharing stories and looking after other foreigners here are over. I am waiting for the sign that puts me on a different path. It is both scary first at the thought of change and then there is an excitement to see what is coming.
Though I love the Temples and sites here I never got to spend enough time in them when there were lots of tourists here. So, now I think I am going to spend the next few months checking them out more thoroughly in the silence that pervades them at the moment. I have hosted many ex-pats at Mara House in the past who introduced themselves by saying things like “We’ve lived in Cairo for the last 5 years (or so) and now we are leaving….we just realised we never got to see the sights and we have never visited Luxor! So, here we are, on a whistle-stop tour before we leave.” Isn’t it amazing how we forget to look at what is around us then we wake up and wonder where the years have gone.
On my way from the airport to Mara House I passed through Salakhana St….and could not believe my eyes. I had heard nothing about a clean up or renovation project. Yet the mess of concrete and half-dead mucky gunk that was supposed to pass for grass and flowers down the center of the street, had all been broken up and removed. The trees are still standing thankfully. The road is wider and hopefully will be completely cleaned up of all the dust etc. when they are finished.
The Minister for Tourism was in town for 3 days and handed over two cheques totalling 3 million Egyptian pounds to the head of the Calesh drivers….at least that was the announcement and the photograph – that is the Governor of Luxor beside them.
The money was a compensation for the lack of income for the last (almost) 3 years. Apparently the Minister also commented that he now expected them to hassle the tourists less 🙂 The story has now been expanded on and goes something like this… The 3 million LE is for Luxor AND Aswan. It is for the Calesh AND Fellucca men. They are NOT getting it cash into their hands. It is to be given to them in the form of food for their families and horses over the course of the next year. That is the end of that story.. at least for now.
Finally, there is to be meeting in the Sofitel Hotel in Karnak on 5 October at 7pm between the Governor and the ex-pats. The invitation is an initiative from the Governor and promises to be MOST interesting. I am gathering this perspective from some comments on social media that I have seen lately (tongue in cheek) on various subjects they would like to discuss with him. Personally, I can’t wait – (smirk) – should be a night to finally ‘put up or shut up!”
Signing off now from the land where you just never know what is going to happen next in a city where nothing ever happens…..or does it?