My Surprise trip to Egypt
28.01.2008 - 03.02.2008 18 °C
When my boss looked up from his computer and asked if I wanted to go to Egypt I thought he was joking.
They needed someone to go make sure their 8,000 metric tons of cement was getting on the ship and I suppose since I wasn't doing anything important, I was the guy.
I got a cash advance from the treasurer for two thousand dollars and told the human resources guy to book me a ticket. A week later I was flying to Cairo via Addis Abeba.
There I met with our freight company manager and our representative from the Emirates office, a slippery Peruvian gentleman with a practiced sound to his speech by the name of Bonilla. They had already booked a room.
On my first day I was in a meeting all day and didn't get a chance to go to Giza until after dark. I was driven by Yasser the taxi driver that Bonilla used on his last visit.
There they set up a light show to attract tourists with the tale of the old pyramids. Lighting the pyramids from the front just made them look small like a theatre stage. I promised myself I'd have to go back there during the day.
For the next four days I was in the port of Adabeya, near Suez city on the Red Sea. Adabeya is an hour away from Cairo where the desert meets the water. There are no hotels, no villages...my job was watching the ship load with a million dollars' worth of our cement. The ship had a Panamanian flag but an all-Egyptian crew. I slept in one of the cabins in my day clothes and ate with the crew.
When I got back I caught a weekend so I called my new friend Yasser and he spent the day showing me Cairo. I did all the touristy stuff in rapid succession, as if to get it out of the way. First there was Giza, finally in the day I could see that the pyramids were, in fact quite large. I could also see, as I'd been warned, that the Pyramids are next to the city.
Facing the sphynx head-on all you see is the pyramids and the desert. If you turn 180 degrees you see the city of Giza, which is just like another zone of busy Cairo.
After Giza was the Cairo Museum to see the mummies, I saw them, there they were; old rotting corpses of ancient kings and queens. You have to pay a separate admission to see these.
Next we went to some coptic churches and mosques and the Fortress of Sal el Hadin where they created a military museum.
The following day I visited Alexandria, again with Yasser who clearly knew Cairo better. It was the same rhythm, though. IT felt like I was marking tourist destinations off a checklist. I promised never to travel like that again if I could avoid it. Still it was the best way to cram as much as I could into the two days that I had free and when the trip is for business, paid by the company, you can't really complain too much.
I would like to do a honest to god trip to Egypt where I can explore for more than two days. I want to see Luxor and Aswan and Sharm el Sheikh.
But this wasn't a bad first run.