Saturday, 1 March 2008

Page Viarge

After piling off the bus, which brought us from the 'plane to the gate – just how we managed so successfully to be first on and of course last off will remain forever a complete mystery – we shuffled towards a mass of waiting tourist reps.

Each was waving a board rather like one of those exits from an Italian motorway when you can’t find the sign for where you want to go because it’s lost in the sheer of multitude of advertising boards.

Miraculously enough though, through the wood we did managed to see the trees. There holding aloft our names was Omar Sharif (or so he claimed) in appalling French. His English was apparently better, but there was no real proof. He promptly provided us with our visa (included in the price clearly) on a “page viarge”, which neither we nor the other couple he had collected understood, but which turned out to mean two blank pages in our passport – one for the stick-it-on-yourself visa and one for the official stamp. His English really was better than his French as I wheedled the explanation out of him.

Luckily the interminable wait for the luggage was accompanied by some light entertainment in the form of one veritable mountain of a local man shouting very “largely.’ No idea what it was all about of course as my Arabic only goes as far as to say “thank you.”

And that’s courtesy of Michael, in whose care Omar Sharif left us after we had cleared customs He was there to usher us into our taxi. The welcoming melee was to be expected and far from disappointing as drivers set up a honking serenade to see who could get closest to the pick-up points.

One family successfully managed to try to stuff far too much luggage into a waiting car and a mad woman headed straight at a throng of people, hitting the horn relentlessly to clear her path. It obviously worked as within minutes she had parked, and engine still running, hopped out of the seat to shower what surely could only have been her mother with a such a joyous embrace it would have been impossible to view her driving and parking skills as delinquent.

We’re eventually bundled into our taxi and driven off rapidly to our hotel.

Ah yes on the roads, the Egyptians are something else. There are lanes for sure, complete with solid white lines for no overtaking of course and panels indicating what you should do. But what the heck. This is a free world. This is still a democracy – of sorts - and there ain’t nobody gonna tell anybody else how to drive.

But there is one rule of the road and that seems to be “SOUND THAT HORN” and the longer, the more often and the louder the better!

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