Thursday, January 27, 2011

Eleven Hours and Counting

OMG! The train ride. I am not sure where to begin so I will just begin. So we wait on the cold platform for our train to arrive ( I now wonder why the heck I had to take two suitcases with me...that was because I was too cheap to pay an extra $150.00 for going 12 pounds over the 50 pound limit. ) We seem to have a little time so I run over to the little convenient stand selling water and snacks. I walk over and purchased a large bottle of water and two chocolate bars that had cranberries and hazelnuts (some fruit and protein) for the morning since I didn't know what the breakfast box would contain.

So here we are 6 people crammed into a compartment with luggage.
This picture depicts 5 minutes on the train. I don't think at this point it had begun moving. Here we are three people on one side and three people across from us and all our luggage on the floor in the middle. Just for reference in case you could not see by the photo, but it is not my idea of luxury and first class. The seats do not move up for the legs and it is pretty dirty in there.

Mind you, by this time we are all really exhausted from waking at 2 a.m. for the Great Pyramids all that happened nearly 12 hours ago at this point. They just passed out our breakfast boxes and guess what ? It is all Bread! I mean really all bread! Muffin, Croissant, Sweetbread, some kind of cake and an orange juice drink box. Really? Thank heavens for the chocolate bars I brought along...they will be breakfast. Oh there was butter and honey in there as well..forgot to mention that.

Now, we are all a little fearful of going to the bathroom because if this part of the train that is known as first class looks like this then how can the bathroom be any good? Oy Vey--were we right! We called going to the bathroom the walk of shame. I brought along a box of tissue when I left CT because before I left I had the flu and thought I would need to blow my nose--surprisingly, there wasn't any symptoms of being sick after I arrived, but that box of tissue came in handy. It became our compartment's bathroom tissue because there wasn't any in the bathroom and the toilet did not flush. It was so gross....I was told. Finally it was my turn to go...and thank God I brought anti-bacterial hand wash with me (being sick you would think I forgot those things, but apparently my OCD traveler came out and for a good thing too!).

We all sat down wrapped in scarves, hats, gloves and blankets. The only saving grace for me is earplugs and sleep mask...both of which looked elegant, but not at all working. So we all talk and laugh and laugh. The train is hideous, but the people are amazing and so much fun. It was probably the best opportunity to get to know some of the people so far. I loved it--that is until the bathroom.

It was my turn to go to the bathroom..several hours into the trip...I walked down the hall slowly as I was really tired, a little achy from the fall at the pyramid and stiff from sitting crammed with a suitcase under my feet. I open the door and have to lift the seat up and it comes completely off...really, icky, dirty and stinky. Let's suffice it to say that we have now deemed this the "nasty train" and our concept that is the American/European concept of First Class is very different than ours. Our tour guides were on this journey with us and they really didn't find it too bad. That is when we realized our concept of First Class is very different and it reminded us that we were in a third world country.

When I got back to my compartment, everyone was still awake. Someone came by and brought us incense. So we lit incense, I offered my phone for music...I didn't have much on there, but I have Deva Premal who if you know who she is...has phenomenal music....they are chants. So, we made the best of it and put the music on till my phone battery died and we fell sleep. We probably each got about 2-3 hours of sleep on this train ride that took 13 not 11 hours. Time is all relative there...which is why a 10:00 p.m. train didn't arrive at the station till 10:45 p.m.

Periodically, we would wake up freezing and just begin laughing. It was so much fun. I have a lot of time on my hands to write and read, but couldn't do much of either. Instead, I thought about home. I thought about the fact that I am here in Egypt. How is that possible? I mean a year ago, I put out to the universe that I wanted to manifest a trip to Egypt and here I am in Egypt. How quickly it happened. I was thinking about the people at home who would laugh at my trip on this train.

A spiritual journey so it shouldn't be lush lush right? hahaha Perhaps a little more lush like having a clean and functioning bathroom? hahaha Morning breakfast is the orange from the night before and the chocolate candy bar. Mmmm something I can eat! So the guy comes around asking if we want coffee or tea. He comes in and starts to speaking with my new friend Kamala in Arabic. It is wonderful to know someone who speaks Arabic on this trip. Interesting, the coffee/tea guys speaks with Kamala and then looks at me and starts to speak in Arabic to me and all smiley. I must have looked at him like he had five heads. I had no idea what he was saying. Kamala spoke to him and he went to get the tea that was ordered. (I opted out for the tea because I opted not to go to the bathroom till the hotel.) I asked my friend what he wanted and she said he thought I too spoke Arabic. I said really? She said yes you could pass for an Arabic woman...perhaps Assyrian? Hmmm...I thought to myself. By the way, we find out how to turn the heat on in our compartment 2 hours before we arrive at the Aswan station....all night we froze.

It is afternoon when we arrive a lot later in the day than expected because as I mentioned time is irrelevant. The sun is shining bright and the temperature is much warmer than Cairo. This looks more like what I imagine Egypt to look like...not so much green.

1.10.11 & 1.11.11

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