Same room, different country. Musings from the land of the Pharaohs.

Being confined to a hotel room in an unassuming narrow street in the rural Upper Egyptian town of Beni Suef is reminiscent of other hotel rooms I have lodged in, but in very different countries. The first is the hotel room in Granada where my roommate panicked at the sight of a red caterpillar. The insect had apparently fallen on my clothes from a tree with red flowers that I had been relaxing underneath at the Alhambra Palace. To relieve my friend of fear I carefully picked up the caterpillar using a piece of paper and threw it from the window to the amazement of an elderly woman passing by.

The view here in Beni Suef is not as picturesque as the sleepy Andalusian alley. Only a typical Egyptian side street where screams of a domestic brawl and the evening call to prayer can be heard.

This room is more spacious than the one in Tavistock Hotel, London. It had barely enough room for moving around the beds, but the window there looked over a typical English street with bikers and double Decker buses, and a lush green park. The downside being the drunken calls and laughs of non-stop party goers and pub visitors at night.

Escaping the confines of my hotel room, I go down to explore this town-like -any-other-Egyptian-town. I feel like I’ve stepped back into my childhood, into Cairo when the streets were unclogged and swept clean, when people were polite and life took on a more humane pace.

I find myself melting into the rusty forged iron doors, and crumbled entrances. Remembering an era I never lived in, of high ceilings, and oval shuttered windows. A walk along the Nile shore never fails to inspire, even if it’s too dark to see the water. The darkness provides a perfect canvas for the stars in the sky.