As said before, my boss had postponed our trip to Sharm several times, so I thought it I could go to the Mugamma (also called the gates of hell by some foreiners. this is the building everyone of us non Egyptians has to go to in order to get or prolong our visa. If any one of you read the Asterix episode where he has to get a specific paper from an authority, you know what I am talking about. Actually I am quite sure Gossigny went to the Mugamma before writing this episode!). So anyway, I went to the Mugamma to get my re-entry visa, as I am going to Europe for Christmas. The lady behind the counter told me I would have to leave my passport there until the next morning. Ok, no problem. On the next morning, I had some difficulties to get out of bed, and since our trip was only schedualed for the next day, I decided to pick up my passport the next day before leaving.
Well, nice idea. The only thing I did not think of, was that the next day was friday, meaning "our sunday", all government places are closed! Yes, very intelligent Ms. Kolbe!
Maybe as little explaination: In order to travel through Egypt, you (foreiners as well as Egyptians) need to take your identification along. Only on the way from Cairo to Sharm there not less than 7 check points, stopping cars and buses, checking the identifications of the people travelling. Yhis hapens because of security reasons, so they say. Since the bombing in Sharm they sometimes even make you get out with your bag and letting a dog smell it for explosive.
So here I was, without passport wanting to go to Sharm. I told my boss that I wanted to take the risk and go anyway. Afterall my passport was with Egyptian authorities and in worse case they would get me out of the car and send me back to Cairo with the next bus going into this direction. In the very worse case this would mean going until the last check point before Sharm el Sheikh (about 6 hours), being sent back, another 6 hours, going to the Mugamma in the morning, picking up my passport, get the next bus to Sharm, another 6 hours. After all, I have done worse in my AEGEE times ;-)
So we started our journey, it was getting dark and I thought it might be a good idea to pretend sleeping at each check point.... and, oh wonder, it worked. The two guys had to show their identification at every check point, we (Sarah, genuinly sleeping and me) were left alone. Only one office about midway asked the guys about our nationality. they answered :"Belguim and German" Officer (a bit uncertain): "and they are your wives or... something?" guys:"yes" and we could go. The guys did not even lie "something" can mean anything, also "colleague", even though I am sure this is not what the officer had in mind ;-)
On the 13th of December Jimmy turned 30 - no way I could miss this! Luckily I was already in Sharm, so it was only a 1hour bus ride to Dahab.
Many of his friends were there to celebrate, also his oldest brother Nasser came from Cairo. A sheep was slaughtered for the occasion, feeding everyone, including some of the Bishbishi guests. After that, some music, dancing, cake, music and dancing again... at one point one of his friends came with a horse performing some difficult steps, another one brought his guitarre, playing and singing Egyptian Blues, as he called it. Later the party was moved to the beach, were the guys had fun throwing people in the air and catching them again (I managed to escape this "little game", not so Eren from Australia, to the great enjoyment of the male spectators, her T-shirt went up all the way over her head while flying up). The night ended in Tota's, the local club. We did not stay that long though, just dropped off the bunch of party people and returned for well earned rest ;-)
Kul sena wa enta tajib, habibi! May the next three decades be full of joy and success!
Late note by the author 12.2008:
After what has happened in the last 2,5 years I am taking back the last 2 sentences. I could say much, but I will keep it short: Jimmy, may you have the life you deserve! and to make it clear, that does not mean "good".
Well after several postponings from our boss we (my friend Sarah, who is jounalist, my boss, another sales guy and me) finally travelled to Sharm el Sheikh. It was my first time in this tourist resort. And indeed it is a resort, a city consisting of hundrets of hotels, mainly fancy. It is a nice place if you are not looking for any cultural activities, just hang out and spend money. All prices triple or worse compared to Cairo. One hour internet cost me 10 Pounds compared to 3 Pounds in Cairo. And these 10 Pounds were already "local tarif" as explained the internet cafe owner (sometimes it is good to speak a little arabic, so he thought I was one of the many foreigners working in the 5 or 4 stars hotels in Sharm), "if you were a normal tourist, i would charge you 25 Pounds".
One nice thing of this trip though, was our room in the Sheraton.... nice gardens, nice pool and nice breakfast buffet ;-)
Oh, and of course we got to meet up with Barbara again, who is now working in Sharm.... of course we sat in a Beduin cafe with Beduin people bringing us sheesha, to Barbara's full satisfaction (because of the beuins not because of the Sheesha ;-))
I have a new freelance job: selling advertisement space in a magasine called Sharm News. As the name already says, this magazine mainly targets people staying in Sharm el Sheikh, headoffice (and only office!) however is in Cairo... Egyptian logic ;-)
I got a fancy red press card with my picture and title: Sales Coordinator, freshly printed out from our office printer, LOL, so much for being official.
Anyway, my task is now to travel to Sharm once every month and try to convince Hotel Managers etc. to place an add in our magazine.
At least some sunny change to winterly cold Cairo.