Mosquitos, plans for a Two-week ‘Excursion,’ and a Citadel

Post No. 10 — Looking back forty-years to 27 January 1981

Our cheap hotel was right next to a mosque where very loud loudspeakers were used for the ‘calls to prayer,’ the first of which was in the small hours, each morning.

Street scene on our walk to the Citadel. [Copyright image, 1981.]

That woke us up enough for us to realise that we had all been badly bitten by mosquitos since coming to bed. The cunning little blighters hadn’t touched us the night before. We tore the room apart looking for them, and most were hiding in the shade behind pictures hanging on the wall. We killed dozens, and all of them were bloated with our blood.

By the time we’d finished getting revenge, all the red blotches on the wall made it look like there had been a machinegun massacre!

When we got up for real and had breakfast (at a Wimpy Bar!), news filtered through that our visas for Sudan were expected to be available in about two weeks’ time. We all got together and it was decided that the following day we would start a trip of suitable duration by driving south to Luxor, then east to the Red Sea, back north up the coast, and then cut back across the Eastern Desert to Cairo, hopefully then being able to collect the critical visas.

Such a delay would inevitably mean we would be running well behind schedule by the time we left Egypt and got into Sudan, but there was clearly nothing we could do about it.

With the ‘Luxor-lap’ decided, Joe Tolley and I walked to the Salah El-Din Citadel for a good look around.

The adjacent mosques of Sultan Hassan and al-Rifa’i, seen from the Citadel. [Copyright image, 1981.]

While there, I found what appeared to be a very expensive engagement ring, lying on the ground.

There was one Tourist Police officer at the the Citadel, and we already knew that these were severely underpaid people who basically made a living by pocketing arbitrary fines that they imposed.

Clearly, I wasn’t going to keep the ring and I handed it to the officer, who looked at me as though I were mad. Sadly, I had no doubts at all that it would have been sold before the day was done.

Afterwards, Joe and I ended up in a local café. I later wrote in my diary that it “was dark, smelled strongly of various exotic things, had local music, and was full of rather rogue-ish looking people. It was superb!”

From near there, we later got a taxi back to the banks of the river and visited the Shepheards Hotel, the original of which was where so many Nile explorers used to stay in the 19th Century. It was so stylish, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

The contrasts in this city are beyond measure.


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