Archive for June, 2004
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Egypt, New Year’s Eve 1983
Here in the desert I often felt at one with nature — when not engaged in the quarrels and bickering that increasingly took hold among the group, all day and often into the night. On this evening, I had made my excuses as soon as I could. I sat in front of my tent, smoked a pipe, chilled and contemplated the timeless feel of the desert.
I had my work cut out with washing, cleaning and cooking. After doing the chores, I spent an uneventful day on the campsite, writing and continuing with the endless reparirs on my trousers which I had been patching up since leaving Cairo. It started with a rip above the left knee which worked its way upwards and then to the back. Wherever I had last stitched a patch, a spiderweb of new rips would start to form. Second hand German army combat trousers – I wonder if they split during actual combat…
On the evening of the England Portugal game we were driving through the lake district back to Scotland. I knew we were home as soon as we drove into the setting sun.
After four days in Cairo and a fleeting visit to the pyramids where we failed to penetrate the throng of touts, faux-guides and camel pedlars holding our truck under siege, we turned towards the Red Sea. The green Nile valley and dense fields of sugar cane changed abruptly into barren desert.
An innocent abroad…
We drove through the outskirts of Cairo looking for somewhere to stay. The road was a dirt-track of compacted clay running along a muddy stream with piles of rubbish scattered alongside. We had to watch out to avoid drooping telegraph wires without slithering down the muddy banks. Periodically, Reinhold slammed onto the breaks to allow cattle or goats to pass the street. Deep-hanging branches whipped through the open top of the lorry. By the time we finally reached the camp-site, just after dark, we were shattered. Even the usually unfazable Reinhold wiped the sweat from his forehead and refused to get back into the truck for the next couple of days, leaving us to haggle with Cairo’s cab drivers.
After a freezing afternoon’s drive in our (open-top) lorry, we arrived in Aschaffenburg with a two hour delay to find the hostel-warden away on a pub crawl and the door firmly locked. So we continued on to Munich. It got colder. For the last stretch of the journey I had to resort to my survival blanket which alledgedly protects against arcitc cold and desert heat. But it was too late, my feet were frozen stiff through my woolen socks. Thanks God we were heading for warmer climes!