A Morning at the Pyramids, and Problems with Visas for Sudan

Post No.5 — Looking back 40 years to 22 January 1981

We had been split into teams of three for each day’s cooking and dishwashing duties so I was first-up for this on day one, working with an American married couple, Pat & Jeannie. The effect seemed to me somewhat like going into a stranger’s kitchen and getting in between a couple who knew how each other worked, and simply getting in their way! {:-)

The Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza. Not many sites will be better known than these, anywhere in the world. [Copyright image, 1981.]

With breakfast over, it was time to go a very short distance the the famous Pyramids of Giza.

Most of the facing stones that used to make the entire pyramids smooth have long since been lost due to the weather and to people climbing on them, [Copyright image, 1981.]

It would be nice to say they were splendid, and indeed they — the actual pyramids — were. But the area around them was extremely messy, including coils of old barbed wire and masses of waste paper.

Because of its smaller size, it was possible to get closer to the Sphinx and still be able to get it in a photograph, and this at least hid all of the litter I mentioned above. [Copyright image, 1981.]

So, in more ways than one, I focussed more attention on the Sphinx,

Legend has it that Napoleon’s troops shot off the nose of the Sphinx with a canon. American’s would legitimately say: “Yeah, right!” [Copyright image, 1981.]

News was starting to reach us that the troublesome Colonel Ghaddafi in Libya had allegedly made threats towards Sudan, the next country on our planned schedule, and our enquiries at the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo suggested that their borders were being closed and thus no visas were likely to be issued in the near future.

What were we to do? None of us were here just for Egypt. The plans were that we would leave the country in two weeks’ time, continue to roughly follow the course of the Nile to Khartoum, the capital, then head down to cross the Kenyan border and end up in Nairobi.

Maybe we could sneak into Sudan by camel! {:-) [Copyright image, 1981.]

It was decided between us that all we could do was use Cairo as a loose base, then head off to different places in Egypt and simply keep coming back to the city to find out whether the visa situation had improved.

So where should we go first?

Alexandria was an immediate suggestion. Despite having just come from there in ‘the great escape‘ yesterday, I couldn’t and didn’t complain. We had to do something constructive with our time. And after all, I hadn’t actually seen the sights of the city, we had just come through as quickly as possible.

Then somebody added a wonderful extension to the Alexandria idea. How about going beyond Alex’, to the World War II Allied War Cemetery?

We Brits, plus the Canadians and the Aussies, all got excited about this, and the deal was done.

After we got some bottled gas, we set off northwards straight away but didn’t pass through Alexandria until well after dark and eventually found somewhere to camp about an hour later.

After we had eaten, an Arab man came up to our campfire and wanted to sell us a very large block of Cannabis, which he described as ‘Moroccan Gold,’ for just five Egyptian pounds (£3 UK). Nobody took him up on it.

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