Giza

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This post means much to me because when we went there in the 2000s, I almost lost my girlfriend and I mean she was almost kidnapped – to this day she doesn’t know how close she came to it and in the light of Lara Logan, I still shudder when I think of that day.

So when I viewed this interactive graphic earlier, I was looking for the road the police drove along, where the camels were, where we climbed on and so on. The Necropolis featured in it too.

My trilogy is a strange mix and it’s hard to get across that one of the main protagonists, Hugh, is not me per se – usually he is people I know who’ve had these experiences but sometimes, as in the Giza episode, it was certainly me and she was she. The events in this excerpt from the book [Part XII] happened verbatim [as far as possible from memory].

Editorial note – IMHO, the writing is better in the book when it is a conglomeration of characters based on people I know and it follows the central plot – it flows much better then. When it incorporates real events and dialogue, it loses the flow and becomes a bit more wooden as it attempts to be faithful to the original – the changeover is not always seamless, particularly in the Russian section of the book.

Not to worry – this is how it happened and I have photos of that day on my desktop right now.

They had to make a decision between The Holy Land and The Pyramids.

The overnight boat to Egypt, the Louisa, deposited them in Sinai, where they boarded the bus for Giza, following a route parallel to but not visible from the canal; they crossed the Nile and the bullrushes were very Moses indeed, he couldn’t help but think, the outskirts of Cairo were appalling, either derelict or part of some new housing project, all in the same mud brick and he could scarcely imagine a worse way to live.

True, much of Russia was dire but at least there were new building projects underway there to clear the slums and put in new multi-storey housing.

Here, there were slums upon slums, abandoned housing projects on the outskirts and a small canal with a boat being rowed along it for light relief.

At Giza, the beaming tour woman warned him, ‘Don’t go on camel. They say it free but it not, it end up cost you much money, even for photograph.’ She now took him aside and whispered conspiratorially, ‘Your woman, she very beautiful, be very careful, they take her away, you never see again.’

He glanced around and half the bus had its eyes on her – it was always the way and some were now looking at him, trying to fathom out what these two were about.

They wandered over towards the Great Pyramid and took each other’s photos, then she saw the camels. She desperately wanted a photograph on a camel and as they sauntered across there, as if on cue, the dark camel rider, white teeth gleaming, cantered up.

‘How much?’

‘Two pound.’

‘Two Egyptian or two Cyprus pounds?’

The man didn’t seem to understand the question, so Hugh stood astride the exit path, took her photo then when the rider showed signs of not budging, demanded Anya be allowed down.

‘Meester, a little ride, yes?’ ingratiated the Egyptian.

‘No no, down, down!’

He pushed on the camel which now knelt down and let her slip off.

With her feet once more on solid earth, she wanted to take her own photo of him on the camel and now he made the fundamental error – he climbed up.

The instant he was in place, the rider suddenly whipped the camel into action, clomping awkwardly, swiftly along the sand beside the bitumen road parallel to the pyramid.

‘Turn around!’

‘Just a ride, meester.’

‘No, turn around now.’

Some police driving nearby saw was happening and began calling to the rider through a megaphone but then the full horror of the situation struck him. The police were on the road, yes but the camel was on the sand and out there was the Sahara.

He began to slip off the camel as it clomped along but the rider’s ‘brother’ was suddenly alongside, the two of them pinning him between them, the police addressing them the whole time through the loud hailer.

The riders immediately introduced the topic of money. First, a moderate amount, then more and more. They knew he had his wallet and that there might be cards in there and yet they didn’t seem interested – they just wanted the cash. They even knew he hadn’t given them more than a portion of it and didn’t seem to want the rest.

They started trotting back, the police car keeping pace all the way.

‘Why did you go so far? she was furious, when he finally climbed down.

‘Sorry, my love, I just got carried away.’

He made a mental note not to tell anyone about that bit of stupidity, ever and by the time they’d reached the papyrus place in the city, she’d largely forgotten about the episode – at least she didn’t refer to it. He was very quiet the rest of the day.

Now came the trek back to the boat, the passport business again, the boarding ramp, a photographer wanted to take their photograph, she was impatient, they ordered dinner in the cabin, with oodles of afters, she was grumpy.

‘Long trips,’ she caught his look. ‘I hate them.’

‘But you were so keen on the pyramids.’

‘I was but that doesn’t mean I have to like the trip.’

She dropped off first and he stared at the cabin wall. No, he wasn’t ever going to mention that little error today.

He shuddered.

………..

Scene of the crime

Can’t be 100% certain but think this is where it happened. Reddish area [A} is where the buses stop or maybe they stop a bit lower right [off the photo]. Pretty certain that’s the corner and of course there are no camels there in the pic [C].

That road seems about right and the photocopy of me by the pyramid is a little way along that side of the pyramid of Cheops [B]. The camels stopped about D when they asked for the money. Now I look at it, we weren’t headed for the Sahara but the town, which might have been worse. The Sahara was the other side of the pyramid.

Thinking back now as to why they didn’t try to mug me for all I had was down to the police so it was more extortion than anything. The bus woman’s warning might have just been to put the frighteners on.

I still think if they’d taken me as far as the end of the pyramid, though I’d have dropped off the camel first – that might have been danger for my gf who was still back at C. She probably still wasn’t in much danger at that stage.

I think she’d probably have gone back to the bus and awaited the woman but as the bus was closed, she would have been in danger again standing there.

Hmmm – why did all that come back today? I’ve just emailed her with the url and she’s just replied. Now we’re Skyping but the connection is dropping out all the time.

This is bizarre how this is coming together. You’re reading this, we’re Skyping and looking at the interactive of that road. Life’s never dull. By the way, her voice is still as silky smooth as it always was – always went through me unless she was shouting at me, in which case it still went through me but in a different way, you understand.

Probably enough for now.

…………

[H/T Chuckles]

5 Responses to “Giza”

  1. CherryPie November 13, 2012 at 21:36 Permalink

    Cool interactive graphic :-)

    From your description it sounds like you were the one that was nearly kidnapped!!!

    It brings back memories of my parents visit there. Some similar dodgy activity going in the vicinity of the pyramids, which resulting in my Mum being nearly mowed down by a Police Camel. She just happened to be in the way at the time. There is a photo somewhere of the Camel and Police Man!

  2. James Higham November 13, 2012 at 23:01 Permalink

    From your description it sounds like you were the one that was nearly kidnapped!!!

    If the car hadn’t been there, which I’m sure they knew it was, perhaps they’d have taken me further, relieved me of the money and left me there. I do think that she was the one they’d be after.

    Against that, they had a sort of concession at that corner – they were known-knowns – and so it wouldn’t have been too bright to do that.

    I think the extortion was probably what it was about.

    Police Camel – has a certain je ne sais quoi about it.

  3. JD November 13, 2012 at 23:14 Permalink

    if that is you in the B/W photo then it wasn’t muggers or kidnappers who accosted you, they were from the Fashion Police!
    :)

  4. CherryPie November 13, 2012 at 23:17 Permalink

    You are right the police always have their eye on the known-knowns. It was going on in Paris when I was there recently and my colleague who visited in the summer saw the Police take action on them and move them on and out of the area.

    Yes I believe it is about extortion and in the case of Paris the way it works is getting the punters to feel they have to give money for trivia rather than just saying no and moving on. They also create a distraction which allows pickpockets to take their chance. The two types are probably working together…

    The Police camel was a lot more effective as a response to criminal activities on the sandy area than the police cars, but unfortunately a Camels brakes are less effective than those of a Police car. I will have to ask my Mum to find the photo :-)

  5. James Higham November 14, 2012 at 00:06 Permalink

    JD – I’m wearing those shorts right now as a matter of fact. They are board shorts and the top was a designer top at the time – just a bit big for me but as it was 40 degrees, I wanted the coolest [temperature-wise] clothing poss.

    Cherie – Yes, wonder why they weren’t running a police camel or two that day. Perhaps they were – perhaps they were the police camels.

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