Cairo, Tuesday 13th September 1994
I had the vague intention of heading for Tourist Information, but was accosted twice by “friends” who led me to a shop. When I visited a papyrus shop a rat started to run across the corridor and the owner’s son gave it a kick. One “friend” helped me get to tourist information where I received a map. I have acclimatised to travel so quickly that even now while I am writing this I feel that I have been travelling for months. I am really soaking up the atmosphere. I went to manic Rameses train station, three stops and a mad scramble from Tahrir and was escorted by a very helpful local (49 year old). I booked a sleeper to Aswan and returning from Luxor. The taxi driver refused money for such a short journey. While travelling in a taxi there was a little collision with a van. Food: Excellent Falafel (sort of nutty hamburger), pitta bread, chickpea sauce, lots of nice food; and I then went to Giza by minibus. The traffic ahead was darting in all directions. I spotted pyramids in the distance and had tea near the camel and horse courtyard. I was shown how papyrus paper is made with squashed strips. The hard sell is not that inconvenient. The camel led to the Sphinx and pyramids: being inside the little one was almost like an air conditioning system and I led the camel myself using a stick. Advice: lean back when the camel rises or falls from a sitting position (and bend the knees?). I am feeling like a real tourist now. Friendly people: the cynic would say just for the tourists but they seem to like a good joke and someone appreciates my sense of humour at last but I have to travel to the African continent to be appreciated! It was dark by the time I got back. The lift doors were stuck open and people were jumping on and off. My guide talked to everyone, strangers too. This would not happen in England as I remember it. I hydrated myself with plenty of mineral water. I am feeling unbelievably mellow and am writing from an unbelievable place. I feel I can adapt and surprisingly do not feel insecure by not being in familiar surroundings, with a no “egg and chips” while abroad attitude. A happy little kid just cycled into the lobby on a bicycle. There is a great fan on the ceiling. In he comes again. I had a cold (lukewarm) shower. There is a wax spot on my sandal where the candle used in the dark cramp pyramid dripped. Writing two pages is not bad for the first real day and hopefully the writing quality will improve as I take the trouble to describe things and feelings well. Some of the faces remind me of the culture Neillum (from York) must have come from – an amazingly contrasting culture to the English norm. I think this trip is one of the best things I have ever done! I will try and send postcards from every country to home and to my sister. I do not think I would enjoy going with someone, because friends would probably come back as enemies, and there are people to talk to when you want to. One thing I am going to get from this trip is to be selective and see a situation and do what I choose to do. Pre-booking journeys is far more important than pre-booking accommodation.