KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
When we headed into Africa, with Ethiopia as our first real stop, we passed through the Cairo airport. It had come as a pleasant surprise a year earlier when we were on our way to Luxor, that the old airport I had experienced in 1972 and again in 1977 had been demolished for the most part, and that a brand new airport had risen from the dust of the desert. We had a fairly long wait at the airport between flights, but the time passed in comfort and I had enjoyed watching the people passing by in a wide array of ethnic dress.
When it was time to leave South Africa and head north, we had toyed with the idea of going to eastern Turkey to meet up with a young woman we’d met while staying in Sorrento last November. However, once we lost valuable time waiting for our new credit cards, we began to think that we should stick closer to central Europe because we had arranged to stay in the apartment of a friend in Munich starting the middle of April. For that reason, we began to think about returning to Greece, so we booked an onward flight to Athens from Cairo.
On the long flight from Johannesburg to Cairo I got talking with a man across the aisle. He seemed to think that there was nothing worse than spending five hours in transit in the Cairo airport. He told us we would be herded into a room and would be required to wait there between flights. He said he was prepared to pay the $25 visa fee, and then take a taxi to a luxury hotel where he would pay to use their swimming pool and fitness facilities before returning to catch his flight to Europe.
This sounded like a very tempting idea, but I couldn’t quite believe that we would be required to stay in one room instead of enjoying the attractive transit zone we had seen earlier. We had been international transit passengers when we flew from Rome to Cairo and then on to Addis Ababa just a few months earlier, and we had been given full access to the restaurants and shops on the transit concourse.
The fellow went on to tell me all about his globe trotting life, and it began to seem so over-the-top, especially when he told me that his daughter was the top tennis player in South Africa, but that he had to bribe officials to get her on the Olympic Team for London 2012. I decided that he was a complete nut case and completely discounted his comments about Cairo airport’s transit policies. Needless to say, we passed our wait time in Cairo in comfort and he was nowhere to be seen (thank goodness).