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Promises to keep

March 18, 2006

Tomorrow I am going to keep a promise I made to myself 12 years ago. When I was 19, I was in self-imposed exile from South Africa, avoiding conscription to the apartheid death machine and doing a bit of travelling.

I ended up in Egypt, where I stayed for 4 months, relaxing in the Sinai and working as an English teacher and film extra in Cairo.

It was a really important time in my life and the experience influenced me in many ways that I still feel. I loved Egypt, and the whole Arab world.

I had to leave really abruptly: I went to renew my visa at the Mogamma building, waited in queues for hours before being sent in to see Colonel Tawfik Al-Masri.
“Inta eh? Aiz eh?” He scowled at me: “Who are you and what do you want?”
He took my passport and stamped something in it and flung it out of his office and down the corridor.

I took it to the coffee shop across the road to get the stamp translated – deported: leave within 7 days.

And so the Egyptian adventure ended. As I shook the dust from my boots at Taba border post, going into the Zionist Entity – the only place I could afford a fare to – I promised myself I would go back to Egypt one day.

It’s taken a long time, but I am keeping that promise: I am flying to Cairo tomorrow on holiday.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Ian permalink
    March 18, 2006 4:26 am

    Wonderful! Hope to see lots of pictures on FLickr. I wonder what Colonel Tawfik Al-Masri is doing these days?

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