Monday, December 17, 2012

Luxor

The approach of Luxor was a very welcome relief.

I wanted off the cruise ship from hell.  Being trapped in the boredom had been bad.  Being trapped there whilst being horribly sick was a particularly intense form of torture.  At one point, I had been reduced to laying on my bed using all my remaining energy to stop being violently ill.


As I walked off the gang plank for the final time, I could see that there was already another challenge ahead of me.  There was only one taxi.  Another fun experience was about to begin.

The haggling the taxi driver used was the usual style of aggressive lies.  I barely bat an eyelid as I tersely refused all of his demands for outrageous prices.  His claims ranged from the ridiculous, that Luxor was very far away (I could see it) through to the bluffs that he would drive away (he would never drive away from a potential fare).  Eventually we settled on a fare that I was willing to suffer.  As the yelling and violent gesticulating were going on, three very quiet and meek Chinese backpackers had also walked off the ship.  They looked at the screaming match with what I can only describe as looks of terrified confusion.  There were no other taxis, so I offered to split my taxi with them.  The driver's eyes grew wider and he began to demand the same fare multiplied by four.  I screamed back at the driver and told him that no such thing would occur.  I felt bad for the these three kids.  They wore the newest and brightest North Face wind breakers and had plastic looking backpacks that I was certain would rip at the slightest rough treatment.  They were lambs to the slaughter in a country like Egypt.  I had a brief chat to them in the taxi in a bizarre mixture of English, Mandarin and Cantonese and told them exactly what to pay the driver.  I somehow doubt they would have listened to my advice.

My hostel in Luxor was the strangely named "Bob Marley House".  It was very basic, but clean enough. 
I did my usual thing of checking in, dumping my bags and immediately leaving to explore.  I was heartened to see a city that had far more bustle than Aswan.  The shops were busy and there was the background noise of traffic in the air.
I walked well outside of the normal tourist strip, walking into the residential areas of Luxor.  People began to look at me more intently.  I wasn't sure whether it was the shock of seeing a foreigner or the shock of seeing a tourist who had dared to visit Egypt during these turbulent times.  Regardless of the reason, I was definitely not a common occurrence anymore.
I didn't care so much at all.  If anything, I actually enjoyed it.  I was winning the battle against the feelings of isolation I had experienced on the trip.  I was now around people again, but I was still wandering the streets alone.  It didn't matter anymore.  I was content with this type of isolation.

I stopped by a small pastry store and bought some baklava and kept walking further away from the hostel and the bright lights of the souqs.
The intense sweetness of the baklava was amazing.  Along with the feeling of the cold air of the night and the bright lights of the street, it was giving me a good sensory overload.   It sent a rush of imagined energy into my feet and so I just kept walking further into the night.

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