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Day 243- Alexandria and the Upside Down Woman

22nd May 2012

Finally we said our farewell to Salma Campsite and to Cairo; a city modern in its desires and offerings but beset by an attitude to litter that is as disgusting as it is thoughtless. The city wallows in its own decay, the streets are filled with litter and rot; even Samer had thrown her plastic ice cream carton on the floor once finished. Bins are of no use as every piece of litter is discarded directly into the street. The canal system that diverts the water that would otherwise flood much of Giza is banked by rotten rubbish, in our time there they even built a wall to hide it. The water itself is surfaced by a layer of scum which mosquitoes call home. Little Egrets wade through the fly ridden cans, cartons and plastic bags and the stench persists, foul and mean in its offense. The Cairenes spend a lot of their time fighting one another, be it on the road amongst the bump marked cars or in the ‘queues’ that invariably involve small barred windows and a mad every-man-for-himself push towards it.

We’d enjoyed our stay but we were glad it was behind us. The hold-up had set us back considerably; we would now only arrive home in June. But that we would arrive was success in itself. The drive to Alexandria took two and a half hours and was of little note. We found our way to the Hotel Cecil, a beautiful building now part of a huge chain, were once British Officers of the Second World War plotted the battle of El Alamein, Montgomery versus Rommel, for control of northern Africa and the arterial vessel to the British Empire, the Suez Canal. Somewhere amongst the throngs of the Eighth Army, my Grandad had stood. The war graves at El Alamein and the other graves of the Second World War were high on our list of sights to see.

Our budget didn’t extend to Officer Class accommodation and so we booked into the very nice NCO accommodation of the New Cabry. We had an eighth floor room with a balcony that afforded views of the fortress where once the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria had stood and a view that also looked out onto the square below and the Mediterranean beyond.

We decided to go for a paddle in the sea, but first headed out to find something to drink. That something to drink came from, at Somers request, McDonalds and in the form of huge one litre cups of Sprite. Nobody sells lemonade anymore. From there we turned for the promenade and, no sooner had we sat ourselves on the sea wall, and seen the litter filled beach, than we heard the screeching of tires.

That the screeching was so prolonged told us firstly that whoever was driving had been going very fast and secondly that they very much wanted to stop. As we looked up we followed the final five metres as the Mitsubishi’s bumper struck first the ladies’ legs which were swept from beneath her as if she were a porcelain statue on a table cloth. Her legs moved sideways with the car, her head and upper body moved sideways towards the car and her head made its impact upon the bonnet. The lady then completed a full flip gaining a height of around nine or ten feet. Her body, a rigid marionette with legs, back and neck all straight flipped surreally like a high diver slowed in motion. The car continued past, still braking, and the marionette came down behind it with a thud, onto a two foot high wall, before bouncing back into the road.

That the screech of tires had lasted so long and still the impact came made us wonder what exactly the woman had been looking at. I didn’t stop to think and immediately ran across the road wondering what exactly I knew about emergency critical care and if the recovery position would help the broken necked cadaver I was sure to find. She was neither broken necked nor dead, but she was wailing, seemingly incoherent Arabic. The cut on her head was beginning to pour and she was clutching her leg. The crowd soon swelled, eager to help and was adopting an approach that involved getting her back on her feet and dusting her off. There was little I could do and since she hadn’t stopped wailing and had already started asking for her hand bag I assumed she as at least partly cogniscent. I was about to explain that in my world, broken legs are tricky to deal with and depending on the configuration she may never be an athlete again; therefore without a sizeable financial outlay to attempt repair, combined with the risk of complications post surgery, it may be sensible to euthanase her and... and then I thought better of it. I handed over her handbag and one deodorant, I assume the latter was hers, and left her to the twenty strong crowd that had begun to lift her to her feet.

The episode had sapped our desire for a swim and so we wandered back across the square to a cafe called Delices where we had salad and cakes and fruit juices and ogled the amazing selection of delicacies which our bellies weren’t big enough to handle. In our hotel we discovered that Laura had an e-mail and it was from Temehu. Our visas had been processed, when would we like to cross?

Posted by ibeamish 12:19 Archived in Egypt

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