On Friday, I let myself have a true vacation, a real break from just about everything, and just read my book (I think I was thrashing through the last few pages of A Short History of Nearly Everything) and worked on my screenplay. As an aside, I really need to start typing my screenplays so I can properly call them screenplays rather than feel guilty for not calling them ideas, which, at this point, is all they are, but whatever. It’s like I got into my head that to be a better writer, I needed to do a lot of prepwork, but then I take so long doing that prep that the world passes me by and I end up bored with the story, interested in another thing, or just forget about the first project altogether. It’s absurd.
Back to Friday.
In honor of my home country’s Independence Day, I took to the rooftop cafe and broke my self-imposed ban on booze and had two beers while I worked on my idea. The rest of the day I sat in the shade, by the pool, or in the room reading or writing (or surfing the web, etc). It was a nice break.
On Saturday, though, I went with Rameses up to Alexandria. I saw the new library, Pompey’s Column (from the car while driving through the largest and worst slum I’ve ever been in), a cool family catacomb (also in the same slum, albeit on the far edge), the former palace and grounds of some despotic king (I think the one overthrown in the mid-70’s), and had the freshest fish you could have without catching it yourself – I picked it out of the ice myself and ate it moments later. You weren’t allowed to take pictures in the catacomb, sadly (why the hell do they do that everywhere?), but I cheated and took a few with my cell phone, which this lovely Jobs-machine somehow can’t recognize without some special software (yay Macs are so great!), so I’ll upload them when I eventually get home.
On the way home, just at dusk, Rameses asked how I liked his driving and driving in Egypt in general.
(An aside here – while I didn’t mind his city driving at all, he was one of, if not the worst highway drivers I’ve ever encountered. Truly, blindingly awful – he’d fluctuate 40kmh in mere moments, as he was approaching another vehicle to pass it, he’d swerve way, way out around an entering car, well beyond what the laws of physics would allow the car to do, should the driver have an epileptic fit or somehow decide that he absolutely had to be in the sand pile on the other side of the road, he’d use his breaks, HIS FUCKING BREAKS! for no reason on long flat highways with no one else around and then immediately speed back up to the original speed… it made me crazy. I tried to look out the window, but I was being thrown around the passenger compartment for 2.5 hours, so it was difficult. Anyway, back to the main story….)
I told him it was fine (lying through my teeth) and that driving here was crazy, but okay. He asked, with a sly grin, if I’d like to try it. Of course I said I would ABSOLUTELY like to try it, and the sooner the better. Had the driver’s seat been on fire I would have liked to try it. Anything to take control of the vehicle away from this man. Besides, it was a long, straight road home – there weren’t even any turns unless you counted the U-turn you’d have to make to get to the hotel. Rameses just about put us through the windshield in his shock. He said that in 30 years of driving people around Egypt, he’d never had anyone take him up on his offer. I thought he was going to rescind the offer, but, to his immense credit, he didn’t, pulling over just past a toll that meant most of the trip was done.
Cool, easy. But the way home was closed. After only about 20 minutes of (smooth, even-speed) highway driving, we came to the place where the highway split, and our branch was blocked off with police cars or something. So they funneled everyone onto the ring-road, which turned into the worst traffic clusterfuck I experienced in the entire time I was in the country, and I was driving in it. In the dark. If you can call that driving. It was painful. Inching along, inches or less from cars on all four sides. It was even a little stressful, but not actually that bad. And distance-wise, it wasn’t very long, it just took us an hour to navigate. Then we took an exit and managed to get home in a few more minutes of driving.
Anyway, that was cool.
And it brings my “Continents I’ve Driven On” total to four.
Wow, sorry this has gotten so long.
Sunday was departure day and i wanted to lay by the pool some before my 10am cab departure, but no such luck – they didn’t open the pool till 930. So I sat on my porch and read there. The ride to the airport was uneventful but traffic-choked, and the flight to Istanbul was uneventful and easy. I even managed to get in with a bus-full of roadies rather than having to spring for a cab, which was great.
And that concludes my first visit to Egypt.