Journal: Sunday 4 April 1999 (PM)
I was back in the hotel by 9.30am – just in time for a late breakfast! I was exhausted from the long walk, the crowds and the noise of the Coptic service, but after a shower, some reluctant packing and several cups of coffee, I was fit to meet Robin again to cross the river on the ferry to Luxor.
We wandered around Luxor and through the Suq, today with time to stop and chat to the shopkeepers and of course drink tea with them. This is an occupation I have to be in the mood for. The bantering and haggling, or just passing the time of day with the vendors we knew can be fun and today it felt like a good thing to do. Several times we were asked by Egyptians to read or to help reply to letters from English friends. I know this is sometimes a ruse to get tourists into a shop and that the letters have probably been read dozens of times already, but we had the time, so we didn’t mind. Mostly they were not too personal. We had lunch with David and other friends at the Amoun Restaurant and I knew I would miss them all. We spent some time on Television Street in the tour offices where Robin was trying to find a flight back to England in the next week, without much success so far.
Later we decided to go sailing on a felucca, always a nice thing to do on my last day here, so we walked along the Corniche until we found our friend Ashraf on ‘Moon Valley’. It was a good relaxing time, but there was very little wind and a lot of mosquitoes. We had to be towed by a motor boat upriver as far as the Sheraton Hotel before beginning a slow journey back, drifting quietly on the sluggish current. After a couple of hours the sun began to set and the sky behind the mountains to the west gradually enfolded us in a warm blanket of deep orange. We were still drifting with sails flapping limply for want of a breeze until darkenss began to creep over the river and poor Ashraf began to row the heavy felucca homeward.
Back at the hotel I finished my packing and paid my bill, which came to just over £60 for my two weeks stay – including food and drinks! Tonight was party night at the el-Gezira so Robin and I ate together in the hotel on the rooftop terrace. Sammy the chef had made lentil soup, followed by one of his amazing Nubian Pizzas, which he had made specially for me because he knows I love them. There was live local music and dancing to entertain a visiting tour group, which everyone took part in, then as people began to drift away, Robin and I stayed to talk with Gamal and the staff, who by 1.00am were winding down after their long day’s work. Feeling very relaxed with soft Egyptian music playing over the hi-fi, I wished I didn’t have to leave in the morning!