And that was an ORDER.

We moseyed on down to the Etap (actually now, officially the "Eatabe", as you may recall) for our tea and free cake. We like to sit outside, so that we can watch Luxor life passing by. That's all there is just now, with the dearth of tourists, but never mind, that's still interesting enough for us simple folk!

We had taken a couple of our old "Rough Guides" and a "Lonely Planet" down to leave in their small library beside the pool. Not that they were particularly out of date (the 3 and 4 thousand year old antiquities haven't changed much) but we like to ensure that our guests have the latest publications that are available. Anyway, to get back on-track; as Freda got herself comfortable, I took the books through the hotel lobby etc. to the poolside library. I was rather surprised to see the hotel foyer teaming with Egyptians; I thought that "Egyptian fortnight" was over last week!

As I returned, I kept a lookout for a waiter to whom I could give our order, but there were none about. Walking into the bar, I realised why! There was a football match on the telly in the corner, and the two waiters (Messrs Bedawy and Gaber) were watching it whilst half hiding behind a column while most of the management staff were seated in front of them and engrossed in the game. For a laugh, I clapped my hands like an impatient colonial demanding service! Poor little Gaber nearly wet himself as he signalled to me to be quiet and not arouse the attention of the bosses. I should have realised, of course, that they would both be in trouble if their manager got the idea that they were in any way neglecting guests. Bedawy explained that there was no free cake because the Egyptian guests would just eat and eat and eat it until there was none left, but he did manage to find us a couple of lovely warm pieces, eventually.  

I was just remarking to Freda that "It's nice here, isn't it?" (This is a family joke, at the expense of a certain lovely donkey man (Abdel) over on the West Bank, who keeps repeating it over and over again as he leads his tourists on their "West Bank Donkey Tour".) when two brand new army Jeeps came careering around the corner, disgorging men here there and everywhere. A bit of a fright, if truth be told! They span around in the road and pulled up directly outside the hotel. Then appeared two full-sized coaches, unlettered but with black and red diagonal stripes on their white base colour (like the Egyptian flag). These were obviously being escorted by the Jeeps, and were directed into the lay-by opposite to do a multi-point turn across the road, and they then pulled into the hotel entrance. They had mirrored windows, so we couldn't see the passengers.

All the accompanying soldiers were what I can only describe as REAL soldiers, smart camouflaged battle-dress, boots instead of winkle-picker shoes, carrying guns that looked as if they might just work properly with bearers who would know exactly how to use them if the need arose! I whipped the camera out, but then had second thoughts (you're not supposed to photograph Egyptian forces personnel) NO PICTURES!   

Suddenly, hotel staff began to appear as if from nowhere! One poor beggar was humping the "Red Carpet" all by himself, whilst it emitted a cloud of dust that must have been choking him! Another came running with a floor squeegee and water, the soldiers had the "cannon" posts out of the entrance before the normal security men were off their backsides. "Don't panic, Captain Mainwaring!" You'd think that the hotel management would have had some inkling of this VIP arrival, and organised their staff to cope with it in plenty of time, wouldn't you? I asked Bedawy who they were, "ArRrmy" came his really helpful reply! Actually, the coaches were loaded mainly with women and children. But there were more VIP's to come!

Not too long afterwards, although the staff were still trying to make the floor-tiles look clean and re-position the red carpet so that it didn't have to be folded over in front of the security gate, a rather large convoy started to pull into the hotel driveway (the coaches now half blocking the road outside) flags flying from bonnets ('hoods' if you're an American) and particularly unpleasant looking bodyguards abounding. The little fat hotel manager nearly fell over himself in his haste to salute the be-suited tall man with the Ray-Bans, as he tread upon the sacred carpet. What a hoot! This bloke was surrounded by fawning officers with multitudes of stars on their epaulettes, it was rumoured that he was (shhhhh); El Sisi's assistant!

Several more, smaller, convoys arrived over the time it took to us to sip our ever cooling tea. These were all conveying very senior officers. They wore distinctly different uniforms, as if some were perhaps Naval personnel or Airforce, or perhaps even uniformed Secret Police Who knows? It was all quite exciting, let me tell you! The camera, though, stayed firmly in my shirt breast pocket.

When we left, the hotel foyer was empty, but there was loud music coming from the main restaurant, upstairs, where they must have all been gathered.



  2. This must have been far more exciting than tourist watching! El Sisi's assistant no less, the hotel was very honoured. Has he said he is definitely standing in the elections yet. They all seem to love him.

  3. It was rather exciting, I must admit. And yes, almost everyone I know wants El Sisi to be the next President. Let's all hope he manages better than the last one; Egypt is in a really bad place just now!