Luxor

Luxor. Photo by author.

Luxor beat me.

We arrived in time for the Friday prayers, tense with the noise and tiptoeing around the crowds of men kneeling outside on the street – overflow from the mosque next to our hotel. Karnak overwhelmed; the Kalashnikov carrying temple guards hassled and hustled, and the whipped-up sand and dust burned my eyes through my contact lenses.

In the Valley of the Kings you are permitted to visit just three tombs; we saw the tombs of Ramses IV and III at tourist-shuffle pace – never getting the opportunity to pause for quite long enough. At Ramses I, I spent some minutes alone, in silence studying the hieroglyphics before one of the guards interrupted and began his pitch.

We shuffled all together through the bone-dry valley; back to the waiting van, on to the boat across to the other side of the Nile. Together with the two Australians I walked through the souk, the three of us forming a buffer against the beckoning shop owners and catcalls. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the noise; the disorder and the dust, but then I went back to the hotel and I stalled. I sat in the lobby looking out at the city then back down at my iPhone. I saw carriage drivers calling to tourists; children and unidentifiable touts doing the same, so I stalled. I returned to my iPhone and read about Marie Colvin, killed by shelling in the besieged Syrian city of Homs; about babies dying and rockets raining down, but still, nervous of the looks and the calls, insignificant and cowardly in comparison, I couldn’t drag myself out into the city and wasted the rest of the day by just looking through glass instead.

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