Countdown for Luxor

A wave of relief spread over my body.

73 Egyptian pounds (about $13) produced my ticket for the night train out of this city. Many will say that I did not give Cairo a chance, but it is just not what I am looking for. 3 days here in the crowded and polluted downtown area is about 2 too many in my opinion. Tonight I will navigate my way back to the train station (about 3 miles from here) and Nisha-Allah (God willing) will find the correct platform in the crazy train station which has no English help whatsoever, to go 10 hours south to Luxor. Luxor is regarded as the scam and hustler capital of Egypt, so I am prepared to be annoyed again, but at least there will be other travelers and maybe an escape from the relentless exhaust pollution here.

On a positive note, I did find my new favorite Arabic food. Koshary – a mix of pasta, rice, and chick peas or garbanzos, and when asked for “beh shah-tah” it comes with a red hot spicy sauce. Perfect! On the way to the station today, I passed a food cart that had 3 goat’s heads in it, yellow teeth smiling at everyone, and the tops sawed off. They were spooning the brains out and frying them in a giant wok. There was a queue, mostly lower class worker types, for the stuff. Yum, I thought about it as a food adventure, but the line was just too long, so to save time I opted for the pasta. 🙂

The Thistlegorm has come back to haunt me. Not in my dreams, but in my hands. I received small cuts from the shipwreck on my right ring finger and my left palm just below my thumb. I doctored them up with my first aid kit and forgot about it. Now, a few days later, they are draining constantly yellow puss, and are painfully swollen up to my wrist. The area is hot, which I know is not good, and I can barely use my hands to pack my bag! When I got up today with a little fever, I knew that I had to do something, so I found a pharmacy and got some antibiotics. $3 for the antibiotics, bandages, and a bottle of alcohol. When I opened the bottle, a familiar smell hit me, not one I would expect from medical alcohol. It smelled like horrible rot-gut whiskey! I am not sure which would be worse, to drink this stuff or pour it on my wounds. Since it was before noon, I chose to use it on my hands, and Dio mio it burned like fire. I have to do something drastic though, at this rate I will never be able to continue diving.

OK, no more personal ramblings. Here are some interesting cultural tidbits that I have learned here:

– Many men have bruises on their foreheads. This is the sign of a deeply religous man, the patches have developed from putting their heads on the ground during prayers so much.

– Many of the women are circumsized (use your imagination) so that they will not enjoy sex and will not even consider cheating on their husbands.

– Egypt has a HUGE variety of flowers around the oasis,and many famous commercial perfumes are manufactured by taking a new flower oil and adding alcohol to it. They smell wonderful!

– Egyptian boys rise when their fathers enter a room. They are also not allowed, at any age, to smoke in front of their parents. EVERYONE here smokes it seems!

– If you cross a busy street, expect no help. You have to do it with some locals as a buffer or they will attempt to run you down. No joke.

– Because men cant drink in public, many seem to developed an alternative habit, smoking the shishah or water-pipe. They start early in the mornings and despite how good it smells, it is supposedly much worse for you than smoking cigarettes.

– It is normal for men to walk arm in arm, holding hands, and to kiss each other’s cheeks.

– There are more police here than I have ever seen in one place. They are all young, underpaid, potentially corrupt, and wear the same useless/lost expressions on their faces. Do not ask them for directions even, if they are actually able to understand and help you, they want baksheesh payment.

As usual, these are just observations. If I was not enjoying my adventure, I would be out of here – that simple.

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