Cairo Day 4

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 16:32:35 +0000

Luxor Day 2 Index Cairo Day 5

I was woken up around 6:30 for breakfast, and got my first opportunity to talk to my fellow passenger. He turned out to be from Sydney. He wasn't at his most conversational though, visibly suffering from a terrible stomach bug, and certainly couldn't touch his breakfast. He had my deepest sympathies. He'd come from Aswan and had earlier visited Luxor, and like everyone complained bitterly about all the hustlers. He'd also been pickpocketed twice, losing everything. Clearly Egypt is a dangerous place for someone from a safe, calm backwater like Sydney.

I took the metro to the hostel I was in before and was in luck: not only was there a bed free for tonight, it was already free this morning. So I could dump my stuff, charge my Nokia, have a shower and just generally catch up. I'm actually in the same bed as before, and the American girl, Holly, is still in the dorm, so it feels like coming home.

The mission for today was to apply for a Kenyan visa. That involves finding the Kenyan embassy, which is well away from any metro station. In fact I ended up just taking a taxi. I guess for only 15 EGP it's the most sensible way to go. But it's still only 4km or so from the hostel, so I resolved to try to walk back, just to get a feel for the geography of Cairo as much as anything.

The embassy is a pretty small house, with a window built into the patio of the ground floor. The first thing the lady asked was if I had any supporting documents to attach, i.e., hotel reservations, flight bookings, etc. No, no I didn't. Nothing I'd seen online suggested such a thing was necessary. Seems it is indeed necessary.

So I went off to find an Internet cafe to print off my booking from Cairo to Nairobi. Of course, I can grab the piece of paper off the web, but the fact that it was physically on my Nokia by my side too was reassuring. It took a little while to find an Internet cafe, but I got my piece of paper and she was happy to take it. The other surprise was that unlike most places, they don't take US dollars to pay for the visa. And I had my 50 USD note specially ready and everything. Luckily I had enough Egyptian pounds on me to pay that way. She told me that it would be ready by Wednesday, which is one day less than I feared. I may even have time to slip in a Tanzanian visa application in the remaining day. She told me that I should phone them at 1:00 to see if I'd been approved. That's nice early feedback.

Having got my form in, I marked the location of the embassy on my GPS and set off to walk home. This, in fact, didn't go very well. I took several wrong turns. I wanted to cross one bridge that was showing on my map, but it turned out to be for cars only. I was walking to the next bridge before deciding, screw it, I'll take a taxi.

One thing I've done a lot of today is sit in McDonalds with a large diet coke using their free wifi. I've got maps of most of the places I'm going to in Africa, even if some of them are just satellite views. Maps tend to be less useful than you might think, as today's effort at the bridge shows. However, not having any map at all tends to throw me into a panic, so this is a boost to my confidence.

I got back to the hostel a bit after 1:00 and tried to make my phone call. But I couldn't get through, I just got some Arabic "no such phone number" message. I tried several different numbers, and asked the guy behind the desk to do it for me, but no luck. I decided to leave it till tomorrow.

But for the rest of the day, I didn't really do a lot. I had a nap, which was badly needed to make up the sleep deficit of the two train journeys. I got completely caught up with the news. Just generally chilled out. Food was from the various kebab stands in the street. Nothing special.

I have three more days in Cairo, and I expect they will all be spent much like this. I might be able to get some touristing into the gaps, but I'm not setting my heart on it.

Luxor Day 2 Index Cairo Day 5