Yesterday I went into Luxor – more accurately I went on a bit of a joyride around town to catch up with some friends and see how the land lay. First noticeable thing was that there was nothing to notice – as in no street riots, no burning building, no bloody or mutilated bodies lying around….all quiet on the Eastern Front in Luxor!
Nothing strange or startling to report – oh yes there was – just one thing, THE STREETS SEEMED A LITTLE CLEANER! Now you may not think that is very unusual or exciting but for me it is! Obviously the street cleaners were back at work. Along the way we passed 3 patrols of police and army vehicles on patrol as well as those stationary outside such places as banks and the Council Governorate.
Having stopped along the way to have a quick chat with a few people I headed to the Souk in front of Luxor Temple. Met many of the guys, each one beginning the conversation with a wide-eyed smile and a question “Ohh where you been? We miss you!” There was a time when a chorus of those words brought a sarcastic smile to my face. Not now. I know they mean it. They turn up for work every day, drink tea, play that board game (don’t know the name!) and move around chatting to their friends.
There was an air of excitement about. Again all asking the usual question “When you think the tourists will be back? We hear now they all afraid to come and governments telling them it is dangerous!” My reply was a hopeful “I can’t say really, but we can say ‘In sha Allah maybe one month if it stays quiet in Cairo!” Their answer was still beaming smiles. Many said they don’t mind, “one month or two months it’s ok, we can live, now we have hope!”
The market people are smart and experienced at what they do, but behind that for many is a simple and honest quietness. On man pulled me into the shop – very excited. He wanted to tell me what happened last week on the West Bank at some monastery. Apparently it is near his home. He saw lots of people coming his way – relieved when they got near enough to recognise them. They were muslims coming to protect the monastery because word was around that trouble was heading that way. What touched him and me was that they left their own homes to protect the Christian monastery and monks. They stayed there all day, as armed as they could be and the monks spent the day making tea and chatting with them. He put his two hands together interlocking his fingers and put his two hands over his heart. With shining eyes he told me how happy he was that now there was a stronger bond between Christian and Muslim than there was before.
I noticed also in the way they were moving around the Souk that the air was strong and united. They look to the future and know it will be better than it could ever have been before.
I don’t know much about what is going on elsewhere. TV coverage is back to just the news slots. Foreign coverage is mostly a small slot for Egypt among the world news again. Twitter is still full of trouble makers and adrenaline junkies predicting doom, gloom and civil war. Lord alone knows what the ordinary folk outside think….. but two things are for certain – we are not headed for civil war and Luxor is a happier place today.