Only tourist left in town! - 12 - 25 Feb 2011

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
Trip End May 28, 2011

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Flag of Egypt  , Nile River Valley,
Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday 12th February

Found a new public beach in Hurghada called Mojito Beach - it has a large bar area and looks pretty chilled out. We didn't sunbath just had a drink, but good to know for the future. We then went to the Marina - there is a bar on the corner called Papas HRG, it was showing the Manchester football derby. We sat and had a beer (just like being at home) Alaa was the only Egyptian punter…always a bit strange when its his country, everyone else is white and English, I wonder if any of them are aware of the momentous events of yesterday?

Sunday 13th February

Travelled back to Luxor. This is the first time ever, in the 15 months I’ve been coming to Egypt, that we have travelled this kind of distance and not been stopped at any check point. No more who are you, where are you travelling, where are you from and who is she….We drove all the way there (300 km) and all the way back without stopping once, what a difference a month makes…before we’d have been stopped 2 or 3 times by the police,  I’d have to show my passport, Alaa his ID car and driving licence and the Egyptian marriage contract (green paper) we have. But now nothing - I hope this is the shape of things to come.

Monday 14th February

Happy Valentine’s Day. Alaa likes his aftershave and I get 2 pairs of 'key of life’ and cartouche shaped silver earrings. We went for a meal at Sinbad’s - well someone has to support it as there are no tourists around. We are the only couple there! I would have imagined that Luxor/the Nile would be quite a popular and romantic location for foreigner’s on Valentine’s Day - but alas, with no tourists it is a very quiet night in Luxor. I think I may well be the only western tourist left in town!

Tuesday 15th February

Since the fall of Mubarak some land near the Nile in West Bank has now become available to buy. Yasser and his brother have already bought a plot. Last week it was going really cheaply, now it is going up in price by tens of thousands (Egyptian pounds) day by day. Hassan, Alaa’s brother is negotiating with the owner for a well positioned piece of land in Ramala, which just a stone’s throw from the Nile and main amenities of West Bank.

The land available is 350,000 sqm, they want 70,000 LE that’s 7K and I"m not prepared to pay that.We are now looking at purchasing half the land. Hopefully without even laying one brick the price will increase and we could make some money. Alternatively this is where we can build a home and more apartments to rent or sell……It’s a bit scary to invest over here at this time, but we’ve just heard that the tourists will be returning next week, UK and other European countries are lifting their flight restrictions so charter flights will be coming back soon, which is great news and means the land is likely to get more expensive over time.

Wednesday 16th & Thursday 17th February

Definitely not getting the full plot but looks like I could soon be the owner of a carat 175 sqm of land in Ramala. The flat we are staying in now is 3-bed and about the same ground floor space, so potentially we can build one flat for ourselves and then we build 2 storeys with 2 or even 3 more flats to sell or rent. Building costs are much cheaper over here so potentially I think there could be money to be made, but obviously that is in the future. For some reason we keep having power cuts. On Wednesday we had 3 in one day and they lasted for hours. We had a couple more on Thursday. Really annoying a bit scary at night-time when alone in the flat but thankfully we had candles and it didn't last too long - but it was absolutely pitch black.

Friday 18th February

A week today and I will be flying home. It will be strange to leave, I know I won’t want to leave as this is quickly turning into my second home,  I have settled in  and feel very comfortable here, albeit a little bored at times. But I now need to think about the next leg of my journey and then I can come back. I'm excited about the land,  its in a good location and can become our home. 

Sunday 19th February

One of my oldest friend’s Lin has had a baby girl Daisy Scarlett to go along with her 2 boys. Look forward to meeting the latest addition to the Rhodes' family.

Thursday 24th February

I go and see the plot of land again this time in the daytime. It’s down a quiet lane about a 5 minute walk from the Nile. It doesn’t really look like much, a piece of scrub land with some palm trees, but we met the owner of the plot next to us.He owns the Africa chain of restaurants in West Bank, so is a businessman. His land already has electricity, gas etc set up, so I think we might be able to piggy back off him. He seems nice and it sounds like he is only interested in building a restaurant so no high rise apartment blocks next to us. We go and see the family to say goodbye to the family. It's been lovely to get to know everyone - they are a lovely happy family.

Friday 25th February

My flight back to the UK is at 5pm,  Hurghada is about 300km away so a good 3+ hour drive, Alaa says he wants us to leave early to give us plenty of time to get there. I suggest leaving about 10ish but he wants to go even earlier. Pop round to see Hodda and Mohamed and Tyeb to say goodbye and then round to Rowhaya’s but Ziad is about it is just past 9am and everyone is still asleep! We then headed off via Luxor and the West Bank bridge over the Nile.  It takes a good half an hour just to get out of Luxor. The road to Hurghada  is quite a good one, the first part of the journey takes to you the large city of Qena, this is about 60km from Luxor. We reach Qena just before 11am. I suggest we stock up on water and food as the n was about 11am as once you leave the police check points of Qena it is then desert road pretty much all the way to Safaga a good 200km or so.

Just as we approach Qena I sensed there was something wrong with the car. As we go over some speed humps it feels like the engine is about to peter out, but it kept going. This had never happened before….we go through the main road through Qena, full of hustle and bustle and general everyday life of Egypt…a scene a bit different to that which we saw a few weeks ago when we travelled to Hurghada during the revolution when the streets were empty of people. It is good to see that life has returned back to normal. As we head towards the desert road, the car does now peter out and we come to a standstill at the side of the road, luckily right by a shop so we can get some provisions for the journey ahead.
But now we are getting worried. There is definitely something a miss with the car and can we afford to head into the desert and break down in the middle of now-where. I begin to panic a bit inside about missing the flight. I’m going with EasyJet and their policy is that gates close no matter what an hour before departure and if you arrive after that than even if the plane isn’t there they won't let me on. It was 11am so the gate was opening for check in between 2 and 4pm, so we still have a few hours to sort things out. Alaa started the car and the engine sounded fine, but then as we drove off it just slowly petered out again as we slowed to go through the police check point. We pulled up and parked the car. I was relaxed and philosophical about it, if I missed the flight I missed the flight would just have to book another one. 

Luckily Alaa has so many friends and he got onto his mobile straightaway and started making a few calls. The bonnet hood was up and about half a dozen man (some strangers but also some whom Alaa knew) stopped to give their advice and opinion on what was the cause. It looked to me like there was a problem with the fuel filter...One guy did offer to take us all the way, but by this time Alaa had called a friend who was close by came and picked us up. He was with us buy midday and put his foot down big time so that we actually arrived in Hurghada around 2pm just as the gate was opening. My saviour. So that was a bit of a drama. We went and had some food and then I was dropped off at the airport around 3pm. At most of the Egyptian airports there is no departure/arrival lounge where you can chilax and have a drink with friends and loved ones before you leave. The only people allowed in the airport are tourists with a ticket and tour guides. So I had to say my goodbye to Alaa on the pavement outside the entrance. It wasn’t quite the goodbye I’d imagined as obviously we had an additional guest with us for the majority of the trip. I never get teary, I suppose I just know and hope I will see him again, although it won’t be for a good few months - not until the summer. But hey that’s the way it is. Flight back to UK on time - touch down around 9pm at Gatwick and home and bed by 10pm - the life of a jet-setter eh - NOT!!.
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