An unusual visit|
Before we went to Egypt and Beit Khallaf we made a brief planning how to navigate there.
We had to rely on our experi- ence from previous trips. From Hurgada, our place of arrival and hotell retreat, we took the local bus over the mountains to the Nile Valley, which was a hot 28 pound ride for several (5.5) hours, with ticket controls and a break midway. We had decided to have Luxor by the Nile as our base and after checking in to a small hotel there we went to the railway station and bought tick-ets to the earliest train to Girga up north. Going by train is cheap in Egypt and the next morning we entered our second class compartment. After a pleasent trip at a good speed and four stops we arrived at our destination just over three hours later.
We went directly to the ticket office with two requests: to buy tickets back in the evening and a contact with the local police. Our appearance was a big attraction in Girga where hardly any tourists come and lots of people gathered in- and outside the office.
All were very friendly and after a short while we had got our tickets and a young officer from the police had arrived.
We communicated in English but he was better in French but could und-erstand the bulk of the content in my letter of introduction (in English) from the Egyptian Embassy in Sweden.
A phone call to his boss made him check our passports and our request to be escorted to Beit Khallaf was granted without any problems.
Before going there we asked a local boy from the big audience to take a picture of us standing in the middle of the main street by the police car and our cab (picture left).
During the short ride through the chaotic traffic we were escorted by armed soldiers (below) and at their barracks in the outskirts of town we were informed by the officer that our cab should wait for us at the site as long as we wanted for a fixed price of 30 pounds. The escort should not interfere in our work and we could stay there as long as we liked. We thanked him for his kind assi- stance, said goodbye, and off we went to our destination which we knew was close and just a ten minute ride away.
We had a very fruitful stay at the site and the friendly policemen were helpful in many ways. Compared to their usual daily monotonous watch duty this was no doubt a pleasant break, and tall blondes from a northern country do not visit this neighbor- hood very often. In the afternoon we went back to Girga and had a good meal from the local falafel-stand in the main street. This was observed with curiosity by the inhabitants, especially the children, since foreign visitors obviously don't visit their residential area very often, if ever.
After some hours we could finally board the delayed train back to Luxor in the evening. Arriving there around midnight we went to bed straight away and not until the next day did we fully realize what an unusual and eventful experience it had been. It will surely stay in our memory forever.