I now have an Egyptian visa extension that’s good till April ‘18.
Here’s how the day played out
7AM; Wednesday morning in Gouna. I have to AGAIN schlep to Hurghada to pick up my passport. Presumably my 6-month visa extension will be approved, and that will be the end of these forced treks to dreadful Hurghada. My back is killing me again, and I deeply resent this borderline state-approved arrogance toward the supposedly desired tourist.
The hijabi clerk told me yesterday (see previous post) to be back at 1PM today, In the teeth of the heat of the day. So I have to kill some time before taking the bus from Gouna at around, say, noon. Plus I have to make sure I do all my business beforehand, for there are no bathrooms available to the public. You basically have to hold it all in for 4 or 5 hours. Because of that, I will not drink anything (in the boiling desert heat, no less) during this long, forced march from hell.
MEMO TO EGYPT’S RED SEA GOVERNOR
I wonder if it you would consider investing in the following:
Build a new Visa Center in Hurghada in a more central location, far away form the slums that surround the current Visa building. Have signage in English around town indicating where it is. Have air conditioning: why make the tourists who comes here risk heat stroke to take care of a simple formality?
ALSO… Have clear signage inside the building as to what line to stand in, with clear instructions printed in large type on a sign that everyone can see. Don’t have garbage strewn about inside the building. Have an information desk manned by someone with manners who is fluent in several languages. Enforce line waiting protocol (boors just cut the line now, and no one says anything about it). Have public bathrooms.
Forbid taxi drivers parked outside from blocking the entrance to the building. Have a cheap or free photo taking booth available. Ditch this ridiculous system of having to pass security over and over because the photocopying “facility” (it’s a girl in a booth in hijab who speaks no English, and you have to wait in line in the sun, as various officials cut in line while you stand there like an idiot) is OUTSIDE the building.
Or better yet, have the visa staff make the copies; do not play games with tourists about the number of copies needed, or which pages in the passport need to be copied: just do it for them, and spare them the hassle, and bake it into the cost of the visa.
FINALLY… Above all, do not ask tourists about their religion in the application form. IT IS NOT YOUR BUSINESS. This is an outrageous question — what difference does it make what religion — or not (after all, many foreigners are agnostic or atheists) — someone is? And never, NEVER allow some clerk to hassle a tourist like me with insolent questions about what country or religion his or her parents or grandparents came from.
Well, that’s it for the unwanted suggestions rant. I had some time to kill, so I climbed one of the towers behind Abu Tig marina and took some pics. It was not yet 9AM, and already the day was a scorcher. I was pursued by persistent biting flies, and returned drenched with sweat to my flat.
No way am I going to Cairo tomorrow. I’m going to need the whole weekend to recover. When is this bloody heat going to go away? At least I can take my easements in my AC cooled flat and watch movies like Farid El Atrash in Afreeta Hanem. What a sexy movie!
The actual trip was somewhat anticlimactic.
I took a tuc-tuc around 11am to the Hurghada bus stop. Sat in the middle of the bus, Big difference re bumpiness. Arrived at the visa place around 12:45. No one there. I guess they told everyone to pick up their passports at 1pm. Mine was sitting there behind the counter, face down. A clerk gave it to me after I pointed at it. No sign of the hijabi bitch.
On the way back I just missed the service bus but took the GO bus which leaves from the same place. Very hot, no AC, but much better suspension. Bus was filled with school kids and Egyptians going to work in Gouna. It was a total zoo, with kids hanging out by the open back door (for ventilation) and one had his pass confiscated by the bus driver for that.
When I finally got to Downtown Gouna, I had lunch at Kan Zaman, an authentic Egyptian food restaurant, glassed in, AC, nice linens and silverware, and impeccable service. I ordered mollokheyia, rice with sha’riya, and bamia. Delicious! And it only cost 5 dollars with tip.
My visa ordeal is over.
Next stop, on Tuesday,,,, Cairo!