Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Last day and last rites

So This morning I awoke to the knowledge that this was the last day and that Jesse was to leave early. I'd been fighting a bout of what was called "Egyptian Tummy" when I was a child and the Imodium wasn't quite taking care of the problem so I brought out the big guns and took a half tablet of some antibiotic they gave me at Kaiser before I left.
I saw Jesse off and went back to sleep. I woke up from a dream where a girlfriend from the past had shown up after a long absence and at first was not responsive but then suggested we go out together. I woke up feeling happy, even though I also feel so melancholy to be leaving Egypt.

I packed leisurely and negotiated sending a package home, checked out of the hotel, had them store my bags and went out for a bite to eat and an afternoon of photography.
I went to find the Muski and Khan el Khalili bazaar. I impressed myself by finding my way to it better than I had in the last ten days. I stopped by to say hello to a young guy, Saleh, who had sold me things before I went to upper Egypt. Being a nearly functional impossibily to avoid I bought some tea to bring home and some perfume oil in the smalled quantity I could get him to agree to. I wasn't sorry. I also stopped to buy a Turkish Coffee pot and a vest to go with my galabya. I found myself in the midst of a dense festive crowd devoid of tourist. It is a Pharonic holiday for four days starting last weekend.
Jesse and I visited a friend of a friend of his, a woman named Mona who grew up in Cairo and Washington DC as her father was diplomat. She took us to the Marriott which was once the palace of some prince and has been done over in semi predictable sort of Egyptian kitch, which is a sort of design standard for hotels built since the nineteen fifties. We sat in the garden and swapped stories and found out how they knew people in common and I found out I could definitely use her help in negotiating further attempts to import goods from Egypt. It's nice to have a sophisticated English speaking contact to perhaps work with in the future.

We went back to the hotel and were asleep before one.
So I found myself self-consciously alone after Jesse departed. I was now confronted with what Jesse described as my need to shift gears with his departure. Now I will go to two countries I've never been to before and have to negotiate all my transactions whatever they may be. I'm a little anxious.
This afternoon as I wandered in the bazaar the crowds were interestingly largly local and few tourists in sight. I followed the crowd and found myself hearing some music unlikely to be coming from a recorded source and soon found myself wathching a group of musicians and a man dancing with a cane. The instruments were drums and a reed instrument, the dancer flailed his cane at times and at others engaged in ritual combat with another man. I remembered this time that I had a cell phone in my pocket with video capabilities and taped a 30 second snippet to show what I saw as soon as someone can help me get it out of my phone and onto a more public place to share. I guess it will wait until we come home. After missing taping the singing on the island in the Nile on my birthday I was pleased to have another chance to record thirty seconds of the dancer and musicians in the Muski. Then I walked back to the hotel and took no false turns and in fact found my way easily. I stopped for some Tamarind drink and remembered that we'd been told a few days before that people would be giving away what they could afford, whether it was juice (which I was invited to share in twice) or roasting a whole lamb which Tawfik, a merchant I bought some things from told us would be going on.
I have had the benefit of coming to Egypt as more of an adult than I was in 1976 when I last was here. I saw things I hadn't seen before and bought some things I had'nt bought before. I also missed some things again I wanted to see, but began to remind myself that I had to leave things to do and to buy for next time and intend that it not take another thirty years. Hopefully no more than even thirty weeks. Time will tell.
In less than two hours I go to the airport to fly east again for the next leg of this adventure. I feel incredibly indulgent, that I am wasting my resources and need to conserve my dwindling reserves. I think I'll make it but I am desperate to find a way to feel confident that I am making more money than I am spending. This is a new way of thinking for me.

In the Egyptian Gazette it was announced that they may be on the verge of discovering the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. That should certainly drive tourism to Alexandria in waves if nothing else does.

In an hour I have to take a cab to the airport at Heliopolis and fly east at ten, to a totally unknown week of further adventures. The one thing I do have planned is a visit to Angor Wat in Cambodia, a visit to Phenom Penh and a visit to Bangkok. It's hard for me to believe I will ever feel the way I feel about Egypt about another country but who knows, the unknown is just that. Iwish I was sharing it with someone more immediate than a computer. I guess I'll be writing when I get settled in Siem Reep (misspelled?) but who knows. Until later then.

No comments:

Post a Comment