When I walked from the railway station to the harbour, somebody shouted to me from a taxi. Hey man! As usual I ignored this, but the person kept shouting and then somebody waved and I recognised Eddy, an American I had last seen in Dushanbe, Tajikistan…
– O God, I’m not sure, you are… are you Eddy?
– No, I’m Martin.
– Oh yes, now I remember.
– You do recognise me, do you?
– Yes of course, Dushanbe.
– Yeah, that’s right and you are, let me see, Mark?
– Peter. Never mind. Great to see you.
Interesting is how much you know about a person, parts of their personal history, their face and their voice. But not their name.
In Alexandria I walked around the harbour. In Fort Qaitbay I saw a few of the granite blocks from the Pharos [photo right], the lighthouse and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, that were reused in the walls of the fort.
At first I stayed in the Acropole (for sentimental reasons), but the day after I crossed to the other side of the road to relocate to the Triomphe. The management was very nice and helpful and the atmosphere was so bright and the furniture so classy. The lift was a piece of art, an antique cabinet with wooden doors. It was beautiful if maybe not reliable.
One of my plans was to go scuba diving in the harbour, but unfortunately it didn’t work out: the first day was excellent weather, but the day after was Friday and it was too late to get authorization from the police to dive. After that the weather changed and on Saturday it was gray and a hard wind blew. No go. It was cold and I felt gloomy. Many people killed themselves that day. Or at least, so I thought. I spent some time in the Brazilean Coffee Store where I drank delicious cappuccinos..
Many of the sights I had visited during previous visits and I saw not much good in paying more good money to see things that I had forgotten about and would forget again. I had a few memories and I kept them that way: the spooky catacombs and the museum with the only comtemporary image of the famous lighthouse. This time I did visit a mosque in Nabi Daniel street where some scientists think the remains of Alexander may be buried in the catacombs hidden below the mosque. The famous Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered Troy, wanted to dig there, but he didn’t get permission. Nobody knows and mystery abounds. Inside the mosque was the tomb of a holy man from the Magrheb who had had the good grace to die here.
Trams carving their way through the streets. In the early morning when everything was still and quiet, they sent a light tremor through the building, reminiscent of an earthquake.
Another advantage of the Triomphe was the small but interesting book collection and I was glad to exchange some books for a copy of David Copperfield, a solid 700 pages of good reading.
Do you have beer?
You need beer?
Do I need beer?
Coming to the end of my visa extension for Egypt, I had decided to fly to Ethiopia. In Aswan I had played with the idea of overlanding through Sudan, but then I thought how I had such good, if rather painful, memories of this adventure and it didn’t make much sense to go through the rigors again. When I checked the weather circumstances in Khartoum, online resources gave consistent 41 degrees forecasts….
From Alexandria I took a bus straight to the international airport at Cairo which was a very convenient option. I took a micro-bus to the bus station in Alexandria, payed for two seats (because of the luggage). A man helped me to find my bus. We walked from bus to bus. He was so friendly, we shook hands, and I promised to take care of his children if he would die. What? he said. Never mind, I said. Bye.
The flight was with Ethiopian Airlines and the food was better than I had had for many weeks in Egypt.
I made a point of drinking a glass of red wine in Sudan’s airspace..