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In 2010, I had the good fortune to spend two weeks in the magical land of Egypt.  We returned home literally as the revolution was beginning.  It is one of my greatest hopes to return one day: Egypt wormed her way under my skin, and the experience changed me in ways I am still learning.

Our conductor on the night train to Luxor.

 The first story I want to share is of our first, hectic night. After arriving at the Cairo airport, purchasing visas, and shuffling through security, we were picked up by someone connected with our hotel in Luxor. At least, that’s what we thought: an hour in to the car ride from the airport to the train station, he told us that he was doing a favor for a friend. Presumably, the friend is who was paid to pick us up, and we needed to meet him in Cairo to pick up the train tickets. “No problem, no problem?”

Right. (This is also about the point in the drive when he explained to us that the white lines on the road are just for decoration.)

Picking up the train tickets involved circling a block twice (after the driver got into an argument with a street policeman about something), a man running out to the car, lots of money changing hands, and me being handed a train ticket that listed our nationality as “Australian”. We were a wee bit nervous, but we boarded the train with no problem and found that our cabin was spacious, private, and comfortable.

And then there was the conductor, Robbie (I don’t think that was his name, but it’s what it sounded like). Matt describes him as a Puck figure, and he certainly was impish and playful. The man danced up the train aisles, singing and wiggling while pushing the breakfast cart. He also started the journey for the writer in me. He came in with dinner when I was writing in my travel journal, and he looked at me and said, “you will write your story here in Egypt.”

I think he was right.