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From Luxor going back home through the storm

Home -> Africa -> Egypt -> Travelogue Egypt -> 22 January 2004

Thursday 22 January, from Luxor going back home through the storm

Our messWe had a hard task closing our bag when we went from Luxor to Aswan so now we throw everything out to reorganise a bit. What can we leave here and how are we going to pack. And yes, this time everything fits very neatly. We also find out that we have taken almost nothing superfluously from Holland: only the flashlight (handy in temples and tombs) which we have never used since we always forgot to take it with us.
Palmtree gardenWe went to bed early, yesterday night, after making this nice picture of the palmtree garden behind the Old Winter Palace hotel. We wanted to sit outside for some time, but we didn't have the energy left for it. So we are fairly rested when we meet Astrid and Susan at breakfast around half past nine.
Although this is the day we have to leave, we still have a lot of fun together. When an Egyptian walks outside before the windows with a big sign saying 'Ye'all be back for sure', that is exactly telling the mood we are in. We hate leaving this place but we will be back. Together we try to think of something which has been the highlight of the trip but we can't find any; the whole trip has been fantastic, we have seen and experienced so many great things.
Luxor in a sandstorm Luxor in a sandstormWe spend our last hours on the terrace of the Metropolitan restaurant along the Nile, but the weathergods abandon us. Thick and low hanging clouds deprive us of the view of the mountains on the westbank and we can just bear it to sit in t-shirt. The sky seems to be coloured red by sandstorms but we don't feel any wind. What a terrible climate, we even feel 3 drops of rain; time to go home...
Heavy loadsWhile men with heavy loads walk over the boulevard to supply the cruise ships, we have a long talk with Souhad, a young woman who ttreis to sell souvenirs to tourists. We have already more than enough souvenirs, so we don't buy anything, but she joins us for a while and she tells us about her life. Her father has two wifes and she has a number of younger brothers and sisters. To provide the whole family with food she has to work, instead of going to school.
After sitting here for a few hours we have to go back to the hotel and get our bags that we have left with Susan and Astrid on their room. All four of us get into the transfer bus which will take us to the airport. Officially, we can't take this bus since we have organised our last week with another travel agency, but nobody notices. Even the bellboys don't complain that they get no bakshiesh after they have tugged the bags out of our hands, unasked.
Along the roadThe trip to the airport is a short one, but maybe it goes so fast since we are chatting the time away. We are still talking when the bus has stopped and already empty before we notice it.
After a long waiting time we can finally check in and start looking for a place where we can smoke a cigarette. To our amazement there isn't any place, in a smoker's paradise like Egypt! Waiters in the cafetaria are being secretive: we can smoke with your cigarette under the table but when the manager comes in they panick and rush towards the smokers with cups of water where we can throw them in. Boldly, I go to the manager and do some sweet-talk, complaining thet we can't find a place where smoking is allowed in this beautiful, hospitable country of his. He nods and shouts something to the bewildered waiters. Only we, at our table have permission to smoke, so we enjoy our (unhealthy, we know) cigarette while people at a nearby table have to put their cigarettes away.
We have a short time left to finish off our last Egyptian pounds and dollars and even in the tax free shops with fixed prices we can haggle! What a great country.
Astrid, Susan and ElisabethCome on, turn off that mobile phone in the plane. We have four seats next to each other with Astrid and Susan, so we can change a bit with the seats and have a chat together. The first short flight takes us to Hurghada where we make a stopover.
Astrid, Susan and ElisabethFifteen minutes after the landing we are told that we have to leave the plane beacuse it has to be cleaned. Would that have anything to do with complaints about the toilets on Transavia airplanes a few weeks ago?
The sky is also heavily clouded here and a small sandstorm is going on. After half an hour we can return to our seats and we are still on schedule when we take off.
But then, after less than 30 minutes, the plane starts to shake and tremble vehemently. Half of the people sit like frozen in their seats and stewardesses announce they won't be able to help anybody. It lasts for more than 10 minutes and then the pilot reports: we have entered a zone with blasts up to 375 km. per hour! Even the airport of Cairo is closed because of the fierce storm. With 117 km. per hour it is wind-force 12, the power of a hurricane, so this is really violent weather. Later, we read that also in Turkey and Greece airports have been closed and that several Egyptians have been killed in accidents on the ground.
Fortunately, it becomes more quiet after a while and at 11 at night we pass the customs, get our luggage and say goodbye to Astrid and Susan. At two o'clock we are back home, exhausted by this trip but very satisfied with the last two weeks. It have been two great weeks!
Airport Hurghada, with our new friendsOn the way home, when we drive the last part from Almere to Groningen, we conclude that maybe the best part of this trip, the real highlight, has been the encounter with Susan and Astrid. We like to be on our own and they are the same, but we could get on very well with each other. We have made some new friends. Thanks girls, hope to see you soon again!


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