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Egypt - Port Said

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19.10.2010 - Port Said, Egypt

Sunrise Port Said, Egypt
Sunrise Port Said, Egypt

It is 5.30 and you can see the lights from Port Said where our ship has to anchor. We are in Egypt !!! I can't believe it ! We watch the boats that are helping the ship to be tied to shore. We look at the people there, they are looking at us with the same curiosity as we are looking at them. Meanwhile it is the sun rise ! It is such a blue, beautiful sky ! The sky of Egypt ! And we have to go to the restaurant to have our breakfast ! But we have to go to have something to eat because it will be a long day ! Same as dinner, there is plenty of food for breakfast. The one who is in charge to serve us is a little Philippines guy. Like the majority of the staff that are working here: the staff in charge of the cabins, those who are working in the restaurants and in the bars. Our Philippines guy asked how we are. I answered that we are still asleep. He smiled and said that he went to bed at 2 o'clock, woke up at 5.30, prepared the breakfast and waited for us ! And he had a nice smile on his face, it wasn't a smile just for the convenience. For breakfast we could chose: boiled eggs, fried eggs, ham, sausages, beans, cheese, salami, all kind of fresh fruits, fruits in their own juice, cookies, bread, butter, jam, tea, coffee, juice, fresh vegetables .. A lot, isn't it ? I noticed the behaviour of the people who are trading, here on the boat and on the island (Cyprus). They succeed to make you feel very important for them. The truth is this, because with trading they make a lot of money, so I wonder why we, the Romanians, can't think the same ?! We ate, we prepared the things we wanted to take with us for the trip and went on deck 7. We watched the buses that were already there for us. Are 7 ! Big buses ! We found out that 4 were for the English, 1 for Germans, 1 for Spanish and 1 for Russians. They grouped us like that to be able to give each bus a guide that spoke a language that was understood by everybody in that bus. We saw also a military truck, with armed soldiers in it. It was there for us, the convoy will be accompanied by it. Everywhere on the streets we could see from the ship there were people dressed in white, they represented the order, police and army.

Port Said, Egypt
Port Said, Egypt

At last they announced that we can go to the exits for leaving the ship. That area was restricted while the Egyptian authorities were on the boat. Now we had to use the cards that were given to us when we arrived, for checking us. When we arrived on the ship, they kept our passports. To be easier to be checked and stamped by the Egyptian authorities immediately after the ship arrived, saving time like this. So we passed very quickly through the customs formalities, being checked only for our bags. We found out very quickly that everything was timed and we had to follow strictly to the schedule if we wanted to visit everything and to return in time to the ship for departure back to Cyprus. Of course that our guide didn't need to say that twice, being an English group. Everybody was doing what they were told to. Our guide was a young woman, Marwa, around 30-35 years old, quite big, married, with three children. Three "disasters", as she called them, the older being 12, all girls I think, that's why she called them like that. Me and Simon found Marwa a very good guide, a smart woman. She was dressed in their style, all covered, long coat, if I can call it like that, and also her head was covered completely, but not the face, like I saw during the trip. She was dressed more like the Turkish women, not like the Arabian women. She talked all the way to Cairo, all kind of stories about Egypt, about their customs, but of course "governmental" versions, some of them not suited to what we knew. Anyhow it was interesting to listen to her and we learned a lot about Egypt from her.

Port Said, Egypt
Port Said, Egypt

Between Port Said and Cairo are around 250 km, about 3 hours and a half of travelling, so it wasn't a short trip, and Marwa told us a lot of interesting things. All the way we were considered a convoy and that truck was with us. Passing through the towns was difficult, were very crowded, but the rest was all right. It is very hard to describe what we saw during this trip. As a matter of fact I don't know if I'll succeed to describe the reality of everything I'll tell from now on, at least as close as possible, to create in someone's mind the images I saw. It's another world. Are people, buildings, roads, cars, towns (common words), but a completely different world. First of all the poverty is overwhelming. Same as my son said when he saw Monaco, Monte Carlo: "Until you see this you don't know the meaning of the word luxury". The same I can say that until you see Egyptian people, these places you don't know the real meaning of poverty. Although there are buildings, blocks, trees, even flowers from time to time, you have the feeling that you are in a desert. The dust, empty spaces, as little deserts, even in the middle of a town, giving the impression that life is an illusion, that you are in a desert as a matter of fact. Outside the towns, our guide showed us some "houses" as she called them, of the farmers. There were just a pile of bricks and earth, covered with palms, or some kind of plants with big leaves. You could see the men dressed as you can see in the movies, with long shirts and something around the head and the women completely covered, only the eyes shining. When we passed through Port Said, being during the week and early in the morning, we could see the normal activity, people going to work, children going to school. The girls that were going to school were dressed in special clothes but with the head covered, of course. I couldn't see even a single woman with her head uncovered. Everybody was looking at us, waving their hands. I assume that it is not so common to see 7 buses full with foreigners. And followed by a military truck !

Military Escort, Port Said, Egypt

The weather was excellent, a shining sun and 42 degrees Celsius, as we found out. I can say that Port Said is a nice city, quite clean, tidy and not so much poverty, it looked like. The traffic is awful, very busy and also because it is not normal how they drive. As Simon said: the only rule followed is that the traffic from one side moves different from the other side. That was all ! No boundaries ! Nothing ! I can't describe the way the drove. I never saw something like that ! You could see all kind of cars, new and very old, or only a metal box on wheels, wagons with horses or donkies, bicycles, motorcycles that were going every possible and impossible way. And very close one to each other. I paid attentinon all the way to see if I could find any vehicle that wasn't scratched or dented. And I didn't see one ! You have my word that I'm not exaggerating at all ! On the way to Cairo a lot of misery ! Everywhere around ! Our roads are very clean compared with what we saw there !

>> Page 3 - Port Said to Cairo, Egypt >>

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