I`ll be back – Cairo, Egypt

I am not sure when I started feeling bad but as I got progressively worse throughout the morning. The sun was beating down and it was hot and dusty. I chatted with two new friends, one Israeli and one Egyptian, on either side of me about how it was to grow up in this part of the world.

After the climb back down (I opted for the Camel Trail for a change), we visited the monastery where you could look at the burning bush. Lots of people were grabbing at a branch and getting their picture taken. I was surprised at how huge this bush was but then I guess its had quite a long time to grow.
I started fading fast so I hastily scrambled towards the bathroom where the boy standing there tried to charge me to get in. I was in no mood to argue altho I found it odd to have to pay to get into the toilet in a monastery. I tried to give him half a pound but he demanded “More!” greedily. I eyed him suspiciously and told him I would deal with this when I came out. He reluctantly let me pass but held out his hand expectantly when I came out.

I planted myself on a ledge and told him that I was going to sit there until I found out how much everyone else had to pay. He looked at me guiltily as an older woman who caught the last bit of the episode started scolding (I think) him in Arabic. I asked him suspiciously if anyone else had to and he smirked at me while he shook his head. Greed will get you nowhere, as I shook my head disapprovingly. I chided him that this was no way to treat visitors, leaving him with nothing, not even half a pound.

I have had a few experiences in Egypt where I gave the prospective trader, for lack of a better term, ample opportunities to be fair before I walked away. I mean, I understand the principles of poverty and charity but greed and dishonesty are evil and I have little tolerance for it. Kelly and I were discussing this very topic just the other day. We didn`t mind contributing more than was necessary in a country that clearly needs it, but when it was our choice. Otherwise its like, “OK, your going to donate to my cause out of the good of your heart and this is how much your going to give me (fill in some exuberant amount)…NOW!”.

The dirt road to the minivan seemed so much longer during the day and I all I could think about was getting there quickly. I was fully aware of the black sweater I was wearing but I didn`t want to stop to remove it because I thought I may not get going again, that`s how fast I was wilting. Finally I dragged myself into the parking lot filled with white minivans but I didn`t know which one was mine. I searched for my driver but it was dark when I had met him and I wasn`t quite sure what he looked like.

Turns out that my van was the only red one there. How could I have forgotten that? I hauled myself in and proceeded to drift in and out of consciousness for the next few hours. I don`t even vaguely remember being dropped off and falling into my bed. Over the next few days I went from bad to worse. I was very weak and my muscles were aching, my head was pounding, and I was nauseous.

Not once in this trip have I lost my appetite so I knew that this was cause to be worried. I made it out once to get some water and mango juice from the little store around the corner but that landed me flat on my back again for the rest of the morning. Kelly had moved into my room but was gone for the day to dive the blue hole so I was relieved when the hotel manager came to check on me. He looked really worried when he felt my fever and told me to wait here and he would be right back. I laughed half heartedly, thinking to myself “Damn, I will have to put off that marathon until tomorrow.”

He came back with three different kinds of pills but when I tried to read the labels, I was out of luck as they were in Arabic. I was in no state to argue and just had to have faith as I swallowed the medicine. Next, two Bedouin men came in wrapping cold weet towels around my head and feet, ignoring my pleas that already I was freezing, despite the 40+ temp.

I proceeded to sleep for the rest of the day and although I wasn`t 100 percent I was mobile by the time Kelly got back. I still wasn`t hungry but forced myself to eat when we went back to our favorite restaurant one last time. I nibbled here and there while reclining on the couch listening to Kelly and watching the suppertime rush filter in. I expended all my energy so when we returned back to the room, all I could do was crumple into bed, putting off the packing till the morning.

I was feeling marginally better in the morning but was still not all well. I was glad that I would be able to sleep on the 9 hour bus ride to Cairo. The bus ride was uneventful but forget about sleeping. Kel and I secured the whole back seat (no one would come sit there because we were women and Muslim men don`t sit with women, you know) but try as I might, sleep I could not. They had some terribly dubbed 70`s action show I had to endure some Jean Claude Van Dam movie blasting my eardrums out.

The scenery was pretty consistent with the sea on one side and the mountains on the other and sand (not to mention hidden landmines) everywhere in between. We finally pulled into Cairo then taxied through the city to Kels hotel where I tried to call the airport to book a flight but it wasn`t happening. So I bit the bullet and decided to just wing it, excuse the pun.

Kelly was so sweet scurrying around making sure I had snacks for the ride to the airport. I had to rush if I was going make the flight I was trying for so I quickly and sadly hugged her goodbye promising to catch up back in Canada.

When I arrived at the airport, I tore up and down looking for the place to buy tickets. Finally I found the right person and ended up buying my ticket at the checkout counter as I was checking in. Close call. I still wasn`t my healthy energetic old self so I just dropped everything and fell into a daze till it was time to board.

I am pretty upset with myself for getting sick again especially because I really wasn`t partying or doing anything to prompt it. But I told myself the worst was over, I was on the mend and off once again. Cairo looked like an amazing city with its gorgeous architecture and its dripping in culture. I am fascinated so will be back but first, I have something I must do.

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