Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cruising down to Cairo

For some reason I got to laughing to myself this week about this long ago trip. My DH and I went on a Nile expedition with a Smithsonian group. We usually traveled on ouw own but we'd been strongly advised not to tackled Egypt without expert guides. Fortunately for us, we had them!

Things were fairly uneventful from southern California to Marseilles, but when we transferred to Air Egypt somehow my luggage disappeared. No suitcase at Cairo. I'd only brought one bag but desperately needed it. At Cairo the airline assured me they'd find it and send it to the hotel, where we were booked for three days before flying to Aswan and floating down the Nile for ten days on a boat. This was our dream of a lifetime, please remember. We'd been planning it for years. And saving our pennies. I appeared that night for dinner in a fairly formal hotel dining room, me in jeans and scruffy sneaks.
I was confident the airlines would deliver the lost bag, but did an undie wash that night to get me through 'til my stuff appeared.

No sign of the luggage the next day, and I was getting worried. Did the pyramids in jeans that were getting a little ratty, at least for dinner, and decided I'd better hit the hotel gift shop. I found the shop only open a few hours, and hastily bought some silk pants and a long tunic I still love. Would probably still love the pants if I could get into them. This was when I found out both American Airlines and Air Egypt were disclaiming any responsibility for the bag, each blaming the other. I also discovered the reason the gift shop was open such a short time. We'd hit Cairo on the first day of Ramadan, and every store in town was closing for a week.

The Smithsonian had provided us with not only an American tour guide, but an Egyptian one, a handsome, kind, gentle scholar named Abdul, as hundreds of Egyptians are. Our Abdul took over and we went on a taxi tour of the shopping district, finding street after street with shuttered shops. Finally we found a small one that looked open, and Abdul stopped the taxi, ordered me to stay in, looked at me with an assessing eye, and went in. He reappeared with three pairs of men's jockey shorts. Don't laugh, ladies, they're very comfortable, and I wore them even a home 'til they were worn out.
So that took care of the immediate problem... but still no real clothes for the ten day trip.

We then headed for the airport, where Abdul got in long and heated conversations with several men at the Air Egypt counter and finally told me and my DH to follow him. I swear we went deeper under the airport than I believed was possible. We went down empty corridors for what seemed like a very long time, and finally came to a wire cage at the end of one corridor. The cage was large, and in the middle of a lot of space sat my suitcase. Nothing else. The suitcase no one knew a thing about.

We left the next morning to fly to Aswan to begin the trip, which was the best trip we've ever taken. Air Egypt paid for my purchases and the taxi fares we'd put out, and we had a wonderful time. We had lectures every night to prepare us for what we'd see the next day, from Abdul and a professor at Cairo University. In fact Abdul told me later the crew on board ship grumbled that we were a poor lot of passengers, since we listened to lectures at night instead of partying and tipping.

Woulnd't have missed a minute of it...And we did party in our own way.

8 comments:

Amber Skyze said...

Aside from the lost luggage it sounds like an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing, Jean.

jean hart stewart said...

It WAS amazing. Never learned so much about people and history in one trip...Jean

Anny Cook said...

I swear that my luggage is "misplaced" every time I board a plane. So much so that I started stashing extras in my carry-on bag so that I at least had enough clothes for a couple days.

It sounds like you had a great time, anyway!

jean hart stewart said...

You're so right Anny, but I wasn't experienced enough to know that...The whole thing really was funny, wouldn't have missed even that. You should try men's briefs some time...

Anthology Authors said...

What an adventure you had! I wonder why they had kept it in that cage down in the underbelly of the airport.

Hm...can't say as I am interested in wearing men's briefs, but, you know, they probably are more comfortable than women's underwear. (Well, anything is more comfortable than thong. I won't wear those. grin)

Enjoyed the post.

Marci

jean hart stewart said...

Never knew why the 'case was buried there, and all alone. Our wonderful guide just shrugged when I asked him. Oh well...

Mona Risk said...

Jean, I am so happy you enjoyed Egypt. It's such a beautiful country full of history. I grew up in Alexandria but left ages ago. I have been back four times. Although I visited Louxor and the monuments of Upper Egypt I never had the chance to cruise the Nile river. My dream.

jean hart stewart said...

I still feel the way I did at the time, everlastingly lucky to be there. I loved it. Thanks for commenting....Jean