I have arrived in Egypt. As always my departure was not easy. The morning I was leaving Olivia’s ear infection came back, Bea had a “hurty tummy” and she lost her blue exercise book. Leo had the worst problem of all; a bad hair day.
Anyway I managed to escape and a few hours later found myself on a camel lunging towards the pyramids. Obviously I had my BlackBerry with me (I am on a working trip after all) and in between trying to reach the elusive film star Mona Zaki to set up an interview and confirming appointments for today I saw these symbols of ancient Egypt.
Rupert calls them “proof that man has been a congenital idiot for centuries”. My guide Mohammed also questioned their wisdom: “Mr Go no come back” he told me with confidence.
What did I think of them? Well, to be honest, they look better in pictures. In reality the ground is strewn with rubbish, the animals they give you to ride, horse or camel, look like they have not eaten for weeks (Mohammed blamed their Saudi guests for this) and the prices are extortionate. I did have a brief Lawrence of Arabia moment as the wind picked up and the three pyramids loomed ahead of us. I can imagine the desert can be an extremely beautiful, calming place.
Cairo, on the other hand, is not. Well I have not seen much but compared with Abu Dhabi it just seems so dirty and busy. I guess this is the Middle East without oil wealth. As a Swede I am about as far out of my comfort zone as I ever want to be. On the way to dinner last night I almost fell over the carcass of a rotting ginger cat. The cars all look older than me. Having said that there is something very authentic about it and I may grow to love the chaos the longer I stay. One of my heroines and one of the people I am interviewing today, Nawal El Saadawi, is mad about it, even though they keep putting her in prison.
I have just had a call from Leo, another bad hair day. But the girls are happy so Rupert only has to get the gel and the hairbrush out.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009