Saturday, December 08, 2001

I'm still alive, and back in Cairo. I managed to get what must have been the very final money from my credit card account (20 UK pounds). This, plus a short loan from Susannah (which went mostly on drink), got me a day trip to Abu Simbel and an overnight back to the capital. Food, mercifully, costs pennies.

Alas, my backup money has not come through. The tent deal is off, not just because the Egyptian guy seems to have disappeared, but because Justin ended up taking the tent back to Aberdeen with him. Not his fault at all - in fact he was doing me a favour - because from an email I received from him, he only realised a bid had been made for it upon return to Aberdeen. And my Israeli shekels are proving notoriously difficult to change here in Cairo. Anyone would think they didn't like the Israelis or something...

Not to mind though. Of slightly more concern is this email I received from Owen. He's on the kibbutz (along with the crazy South African girl Shevonne) that I was intending on going to. Here's what he wrote.

it's an awkward situation - from next monday there will only be 6 volunteers left, three of those are from Ecuador and have only a partial grasp of English. It's boring: you work and then you sit around watching television or reading. It gives me time to think but there is no way I could honestly recommend it to you. If you come then that is great but all I can say is be warned. Shevonne is still here and has bouts of clarity surrounded by epochs of dross. I get along ok with her, mainly because there are few others to talk to. The kibbutzniks are often hard to break down - they've seen volunteers come and go.

that's the story. I only have 40mins internet access per week! so I need to go and write to others,

take care,


I still have a few days before I head to Tel Aviv. I'm still going to kibbutz it, but where I go is now something I'll be giving serious thought to. I'd like to meet up with Owen and Shevonne again, but under these circumstances? Plus, the place is only 10km from the Gaza Strip, which isn't currently a world haven of safety.

Anyhow, my days in Aswan were fun, despite the minor financial crisis. Not a great deal of newsworthiness of the first, just looking around. Stuff I'd write about if I'd more time. In the evening I went for a meal with Susannah, on a large boat on the Nile attached to the shore, and then witnessed Susannah's expert haggling in the streets. This girl is one serious haggler, I'm quite sure she could win competitions. She plays the salespeople at their own game and can happily haggle over prices for half an hour and still walk away all because of a difference of 1 UK pound. Ruthless. She makes all these wonderful promises to visit the salesmen the next day which she of course never honours. It also helps that she pretends to be Mexican while I pretend to be a monosyllabic Yugoslavian (I'd tried Croatian but none of them had heard of it).

It was a day trip to Abu Simbel the next day, commencing at 3am. A minibus crammed utterly full of other peope who'd put their names down went in convoy with heaps of other buses. The 4 hour road journey from Aswan to Abu Simbel is supposed to be dangerous, problems with these Islamic fundamentalists again, and has only been reopened to foreigners in the last year or so, but as far as I know, no buses were taken out by rocket launchers.

Abu Simbel is a big temple dominated by four giant statues of the main man, Ramses II. It's famous. It's big. It was rather impressive. We also bumped into Craig there, a droll Australian we'd met in Luxor but had lost touch with. After the cramped four hour return to Aswan, seeing a few other sights on the way (including the least impressive toursit attraction ever, the unfinished obelisk, which is just a big and unfinished carving in an ugly quarry) we all went for some drinks. Myself, Susannah, Craig, plus others from the short day tour including the first Scottish traveller I've met. Called Dave, from somewhere near Ediburgh, though we wasn't planning on returning anytime soon. I would have got epically drunk as it was one of these groups of people that seem to click, but I had an 8pm overnight train back to Cairo with Susannah so only got slightly drunk instead.

So, just relaxing today. I'm now sharing a room with a guy called Andrew from "the Wirral" who intends to travel for the next three years and never wants to go back to England. Susannah returns to Spain later tonight. I'm going to hang around Cairo for a few days then eventually head to Tel Aviv. Funds allowing. If I camn change my shekels, then I'm in business -I have 150 UKP worth.

So, a big discussion awaits. Which kibbutz. Gvaram, with its envelope making but very limited excitement, but with a couple opf people I already know, or a random one? We'll see.

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