Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Life has stopped"

"I do not even remember when I was the last customer, but I am very happy," he says between puffs on a water pipe Said Kamal, 25, on board of Nefertari, the barge he inherited from his father. The sun falls slowly over the Valley of the Kings, the sky is clear and a slight breeze rises over the Nile waters the golden sunset is insurmountable, but the barge is moored Said.

Like all. Luxor, the splendid Thebes ran out of tourists, evacuated at the outbreak of the first mass protests. It has been eleven days since he left the city Mubaraky still reigns a desolate beach town at the end of summer. Or worse, because February is peak season in Egypt . The cruise line asleep on the docks, the drivers yawn in their carriages and the souk are down the blinds.

"Life has stopped," sighs a shopkeeper who sells clothes for women in Egypt and also has run out of customers in this town whose economy depends on tourism. The whole city lives pending cancellations of reservations and tourism, the list of countries that are slowly raising the red light to travel to Egypt (Spain is among those who still resist.) On Monday came around the first bus of German tourists and next week become the French and Americans, insh'allah, sigh in the cafes.

Said has no customers but smile. "Reach for what I say, write my name. I have lost their fear of speaking. We are happy that everything will change, finally. Just one month ago could not even set foot on the dock without me over the policeman on duty. 'Where you going, who you are, where is your permit? ".

Even if I knew exactly who I am and that I have the paperwork in order. They said, 'Where's my tea? ", Because it called them bribes. Ten or twenty pounds, several times a day, because if you refused they invented anything and the police station. And there went out without a fine of 110 pounds, so it was better pay from the beginning.

" Said goes on and on with your list of grievances: "And how many customers have I lost because of the tourist police! Days of the barge is full, you stood with any excuse to get you money. And tourists heard the screams and did not understand anything. And you could tell that you had not done anything wrong, they did not want problems and down.

" We are 700 kilometers from Cairo, but Said's stories are very familiar: the same helplessness accumulated, the same weariness before the cancer of corruption and the daily humiliation that both be heard in Tahrir Square. And the same dreams, the same impatience. Before the temple of Luxor dozens of men queuing at the post office.

The new government has promised to create jobs and the city have been distributed ballots to apply for jobs. Hasan, 30 and dependent on the souk, dreams of a job at City Hall. "In the bazaar can fire me at any time, I want a fixed contract. And a decent wage. Now everyone will win more.

" All say the same thing here, in a kind of collective mantra that promises bitter disappointments. "Egypt is a rich country, the problem is that so far everything is pocketed by a few," says a young waiter at the nearby temple of Edfu, who has written a letter to his boss to turn up the salary.

600 pounds (75 euros) to 1,500. How are you so sure that will grant the increase? "I do not know. Well, I hope. What I do know is that nobody can tell me anymore I have no right to ask for what I think is fair. "

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