FRIDAY 1st NOVEMBER – RETURN TO CAIRO In the heat of the day we trudged down to the bus station, stopping on the way to buy a rotisserie chicken which we devoured sitting on the ground in the shade of a breezeblock wall.

The usual bunch of rag-bag kids gathered around us while we ate and began to give cheek and throw things at us and so Nicky sauntered over and slapped one of them around the head. The kid fled screaming and then a few minutes later a hail of rocks flew over the wall at us. I thundered off after the little cunts and could have caught both of them if they hadn’t collapsed, streaming, in the middle of the street. So I left them to the locals to sort out.

The bus arrived late and was packed to the gunwales with old men and women  dressed in white [Hajjis en route to Mecca]. The luggage compartment was full and the aisles and back seats were stuffed with baggage and strange pink quilts. Nicky and I sat up on the luggage in the back while Linda and Melissa squeezed into seats further up the bus. I relieved the boredom of the journey by listening to a Guns ‘n’ Roses tape lent to me by Nicky and watching the light recede from the western sky behind a jagged range of mountains.

Around 9:00 PM we drove into the vicinity of the Suez Canal. The lights of a line of huge ships could be seen waiting out in the Gulf of Suez for their turn to enter the canal and the air was heavy with the cloying smell of hydrocarbons from the numerous oilfields, refineries and storage facilities. In places, gas flaring off from roadside wells lit the desert for miles around with a flat orange light.

The bus reached Ramses Square in Cairo at 11:00 PM and we got a taxi up to Maidan Talab Haab for E£4. We checked into the Hotel des Rosas (a better name for which would have been the Hotel des Cockroaches) and the four of us slept in the same room – Linda and I on the floor.  

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