Post No. 8 — Looking back forty-years to 25 January 1981
The following morning, after our little Egyptian friend insisted on returning our spoon, we headed back for Cairo.
Collectively, we had decided to stay in Cairo for 2-3 more days in an attempt to work out some sort of strategy regarding our unavailable visas for Sudan.
On arrival in the city, we went to the Ashbilia Hotel on Adli Street where five of us lads booked one large room with five beds. (The cost per person, per night, was one Egyptian pound ten piastres, which was the equivalent of 66 pence in British money.)
In a madcap race that immediately followed our arrival at the Ashbilia, I was first to make it in for a hot shower and there I discovered just how grimy the desert had been.
Two of the other lads sharing the room were very affable Canadians, both with French-pronunciation names, Maurice (say ‘More-eese’) Boucher, and Guy (say ‘Ghee’) Flavelle, both from British Columbia.
The fifth was another Aussie, Phil Wheatley.
Sometime after that, we split up and Joe & I walked about 400 yards to the Zenia Cafe for tea…. for my American friends, that’s ‘tea’ the meal not just tea the drink!
The Zenia was going to prove a reliable place for decent cheap meals over our future days in Cairo.
We continued our walk later on, and on a market stall we very bizarrely found a solitary, 825g tin of SPC pears. What luxury! After checking the tin wasn’t damage, we paid E1.65 (UK £1.00) for it and ate them for supper.
Despite my photographs, though, I should add that Cairo isn’t occupied only by elderly men. However, it is much easier to photograph them without fear of causing offence!
On a different subject, I had been reluctant to come back into Cairo, mostly because all of the drivers seemed to buy the largest and loudest airhorns they could, then installed them in very run-down unsafe cars, and then drove around the city without ever taking their hand off the horn. The noise was diabolical for perhaps 20-21 hours a day, with a partial but incomplete lull only around 1am-4am.
Joe, on the other hand, said: “I like Cairo very much. I’ve got used to the dirt!”