Journal: Wednesday 31 April 2002
Our flight home today wasn’t until this evening and Mary and I had paid extra to keep our room until 4.00pm. This means that we didn’t have to be packed up and out of the room early and left wondering what to do with our last day. I was up at dawn and sitting out on the balcony before going down to breakfast. The Nile below was sparkling in the early sun and two hawks were as ever circling overhead. I’d seen them every day from here, their long powerful wings with patches of white feathers catching the light as they circled around and around with incredible grace above the trees. They like to keep an eye on their territory to see what’s going on and I could understand why the ancient Egyptians revered this majestic bird as Horus, magical protector of the King, who sees and knows everything.
Back on Earth, Mary went off to the pool and I went to do some last minute shopping. I’d had my eye on a new Mohammed Mounir CD and stopped in a music shop near the Old Winter Palace to buy it. The CD was expensive at LE50 but it is a new release and this isn’t a pirate copy as many are. Aboudi’s bookshop was my next stop, just to check that there wasn’t anything I’d missed. I’ve only bought a couple of books on this trip – very restrained for me. The truth is that there was nothing much new on Egyptology that I didn’t already have. I like to buy publications from the AUC Press, because they are often half the price of English versions of the same book, or else new titles that aren’t published in the West. I wandered through the little shopping mall and around the corner to Sharia el-Mahatta (Station Street) where I walked the length of the street almost to the railway station and Twinkies. Twinkies is wonderful, a bakery/pattiserie that sells the most tempting of cakes and sweets. I wanted to take some home as a gift for Tony, my regularly-abandoned husband, and I found it quite hard to make a selection from all the amazing sticky cakes on display. Then back down the road and over to the Amoun restaurant where I stopped for a drink and to say goodbye to the always friendly staff. I spent another half hour in the internet place to send some emails – the guy who runs it seems to always be just logging off his dodgy porn site as a tourist walks in. Then I went into the shop next door. The owner, a stone-carver who lives on the West Bank, makes some of the best copies of shabtis I’ve seen anywhere in Egypt and today I was tempted by a couple of small ones that I just couldn’t resist.
Pleased with my purchases I made my way back to the Novotel where I joined Mary by the pool for some lunch. It’s been very hot again today and we were both feeling very lethargic but eventually it was time to go up to our room, have a shower and do the dreaded packing that we couldn’t put off any longer. Getting to the airport was easy this time as we had a transfer coach provided by the tour company, but it’s the moment I hate most and I always seem to make the last journey through Luxor with tears in my eyes, no matter how many times I’ve done it. The new airport building is now finished I’m pleased to say and the check-in was very smooth. I even found that my luggage wasn’t overweight and that has to be a first. Our flight left at 7.00pm, right on time for once. As we took off, circling over the mountains of the West Bank, we could see the Nile below us reflecting the remnants of a beautiful deep red sunset and the clouds seemed lit from within as we headed up towards them and out across the desert leaving Luxor far behind.