Journal: Sunday 15 October 2000
We were sitting in a corner of the Rameses Cafe at lunchtime with a small group of Egyptian friends. One of Ramadan’s favourite sayings is ‘Time is running…’, his version of ‘time flies’. Time was certainly running for us as this was our last day in Egypt. Jenny and I had quite a lazy morning, reluctantly doing some packing before spending a last couple of hours in Medinet Habu temple to say our goodbyes. The cafe was packed with Japanese tourists today, who had arrived on a coach to spend the requisite twenty minutes in the temple. I thought it was a bit of a cheek that they come in with their hotel packed lunch boxes to eat at the cafe, but apparently the cafe get a commission from the tour company for this, and they can sell drinks and books and scarves to the tourists at the same time. In the busy season there is an old man who plays a rababa at the cafe who has been there for years. He never looks any different and seems to always play the same tune over and over, from what I can tell. I felt sorry for him today, doing his stuff for the tourists, who were mostly ignoring him and making too much noise to hear him anyway.
After lunch we crossed the river on the ferry to Luxor because Jenny wanted to do some last minute shopping. As we walked slowly up through the local bazaar, stopping occasionally to chat and drink tea with the friendly shopkeepers who were doing their best to relieve us of any left-over cash, we bumped into our friend Ibrahim, who in the past has taught me Arabic. He told us that he had heard that we were here (nothing is a secret in Luxor) and had phoned around all the Luxor hotels to try to find us. I really felt bad that we hadn’t looked him up on this trip, but we had hardly spent any time on the East Bank. To make amends, we agreed to go and have a drink with him at the Anubis cafe on the Corniche, and we all sat and watched the feluccas chasing the evening breeze on the river, flying into the sunset. As I watched the colours change from gold to orange to deep blue with darkness finally creeping over the water, I felt sad that this time tomorrow we would be in the cold grey dusk of England.
When Jenny went to reconfirm our Egyptair return flight a couple of days ago she was told that the flight time had been brought forward by two and a half hours, leaving at 6.55am and stopping first at Cairo. As this means leaving our apartment by a very uncivilized 4.30am, we finished packing and tried to get an early night. The air in the apartment was very hot and stuffy and neither of us could sleep, so we decided to go out for a walk and found ourselves at midnight taking pictures of the floodlit Colossi of Memnon. This was a great source of amusement and entertainment for the tourist police in their truck in the car park.