Caught the train from Cairo to Luxor yesterday. Halfway through the walk to the train station, I stopped at an air conditioned coffee shop and had a nes cafe and chicken sandwich, which turned out to be my only meal of the day. Arriving at the train station an hour early, I eventually found out that I must print out my ticket. So I left the station on a quest to find an internet cafe. Finally someone understood what I was inquiring about and led me into a vacant building and up a few floors to a small computer store where the employees were most helpful in transferring my file via bluetooth and printing it for me, free of charge. Made it back with some time to spare and managed to inquire my way to what I thought was the right platform, as everything (including numbering) was in Arabic.
|Cairo train station|
Boarded, found someone in my seat but willingly displaced, and began the long trip down the Nile valley. The train stopped at dozens of small and medium sized towns along the way and the countryside was thoroughly interesting. Between towns was solid agriculture, dikes, shanties, workers, half finished buildings, cattle, piles of brick, freeways, etc. Most of the farming was done by hand with many of the farmers being children: ditching grids dug with hoes, crops planted in neat rows by hand, fields flooded with water pumps from dikes, yields harvested with hand-scythes and bundled, bundles gathered together by donkeys and people, grain threshed by portable threshers belt driven by tractors, and piles of grain left in fields covered by palm branches or moved to makeshift silo-type enclosures. It was impressive just how much grain was recovered from usually very small plots of land.
Near Cairo the water bodies were heavily polluted, with garbage and sewage dumped straight into the main dikes where women collected water and children swam and fished; in rural areas, the water bodies seemed to be much less polluted. There is alot of garbage and industry burning contributing to substantial smog and a thick layer of ash and soot depositing on the window ledge next to me.
I was informed that I was lucky because I had a seat reservation, which was apparently illegal for foreigners to obtain, however I encountered no issues because of this. The drawn-out trip was full of arguments in Arabic, seat swapping, smoking between coaches, frequent louder than normal disputes, and people selling things (not including food) down the isle. For the last three hours my diarrhea cramps became progressively worse at an alarming rate; however, besides having no TP on me, the toilets onboard were not an option due to layers of all types of excrement. I rode desperately on into the night through many more small towns with their minarets lit up like neon nightclubs and finally arrived in Luxor. After a sales pitch laden cab ride, negotiations with reception, an inquiry regarding the nearest toilet, return trip for TP, and a much needed but hasty seat cleaning and buffering job, sweet sweet relief lol.
Yesterday was exhausting; was gonna meet up with Jaren, but today I’m POA (similar to MIA, but Pissing Out Ass). Gaddir Hotel’s website boasted three restaurants but didn’t mention the missing staff and patrons. There was a sole bartender who showed me an excellent menu and in long-order managed to figure out most of what I had asked for correctly and, most likely, cooked it up himself. He was very apologetic about the wait, but I was sure it was only him there, so I gave him a gracious tip and a heads-up to expect me again the next morning. It’s 47°C here today, and my room has it’s own toilet, shower, intermittent wifi, and beautiful AC for the low price of EG£ 65/night ~= CAD$ 10/night.