The trip from Marrakech to Cairo via Casablanca was confusing and tiring but relatively easy. It was another all-night trip. After solo travel during Covid, not much shocks or surprises me, and getting upset never improves the situation.
The short flight from Marrakech to Casablanca was to be on a small commuter airplane, but at the last minute, it was changed to a large aircraft. There were about ten people on the huge airplane. The departure gate changed as well, adding to the confusion. The short Royal Air Maroc flight lasted about an hour. When asked about the aircraft change, there was no reply, except a smile from the flight attendant?
Casablanca to Cairo
Changes in the departure gate for the flight from Casablanca to Cairo were also confusing. I almost boarded a flight to Gambia, a small West African country formerly associated with Mali and Senegal. Gambia was colonized by France and England in the 18th century. They gained independence from the UK in 1965. I was actually in line waiting to board a flight to Banjul (capital of Gambia) – did show my boarding pass – and quickly moved when I saw the adjacent but obscure Cairo boarding sign! Can’t imagine what might have happened, but surely someone would have noticed and saved me. :(
The overnight flight from Casablanca to Cairo took about six hours, and the flight path passed over parts of Spain and the Greek Islands. The visa process at Cairo airport was a snap.
I didn’t sleep during the trip, and arrived early morning in Giza – there was no pickup driver holding my name on a card – don’t like it when that happens. I shared a taxi with another solo traveler from Germany who was also staying in Giza near my accommodation. I wasn’t able to check-in until five hours after arrival. I wasn’t tired, it was a zombie-like feeling.
The accommodation is small, and the best things I can say about it is it’s clean, private, very reasonably priced, and about a ten-minute walk from the pyramids. While waiting to access my accommodation, I walked around Giza and near the entrance of the pyramids complex, but was too exhausted to enter and explore. The best I could find for breakfast was falafel, but it was delicious. A photo from the roof deck is attached.
I’ll stay in Giza for a week, and haven’t decided the next step. After a good rest, I’ll begin exploring the fascinating pyramids. Weekends are overcrowded with tourists, so weekdays are a better time to see them. I understand the entire perimeter of the pyramid and sphinx complex is about a 5-mile walk, but need to do more research to optimize my time.
First impressions of Cairo’s massive metropolitan area are that it’s loud and chaotic, but has electric energy and is more exotic than I can possibly describe in words. The Cairo metro area population in 2022 was close to 22 million. It brings back memories of Mumbai and Istanbul. In addition to humans and automobiles, there are tons of camels, donkey carts, and horse-drawn carriages. People walk in the streets, and the combination of donkeys, camels, horses, cars, buses, jitneys, and carts is lots to process and a bit otherworldly.
I was famished, and the hotel staff led me to a small nearby restaurant for dinner last night – never could have found the place on my own. It was locals only, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable. The food was fresh, delicious, and inexpensive. I had soup, salad, native bread (Ayesh Baladi) with fresh hummus, an assortment of olives and spicy pickled vegetables, saffron rice, and perfectly grilled chicken. The meal was under $10. Egypt is a haven for vegetarians, and they have interesting uses for spices like dill, cumin, cloves, cardamom, aniseed, ginger, mint, and coriander.
I’m trying to stay aware of local news and found several articles about militant and extremist Muslim groups in the area. As with all my travels, I’m remaining low-key and blending as much as possible. My imagination or not, at a gut level, Egypt feels much more comfortable to me than Morocco. I shared a few of my uncomfortable Moroccan experiences. There were many.
I wanted to write a post about Moroccan journalists imprisoned as a result of digital spyware surveillance, but thought it best not to take any chances while in Morocco. During 2019 and again in 2020, Amnesty International announced the “findings of forensic analyses confirming that Pegasus Spyware had been used on the phones of Moroccan journalists Omar Radi and Maati Monjib“.
“Subsequent state action against surveilled journalists underscores the ongoing threat to Morocco’s independent media – reinforcing the CPJ – Community to Protect Journalists – conclusion that spyware attacks are precursors to other press freedom violations. Raissouni and Radi are imprisoned in Morocco for what family and colleagues describe as trumped-up charges.”
Journalist Taoufik Bouachrine, whom the Pegasus Project have said was also targeted with the spyware, is imprisoned on similar charges.” Many believe spyware and surveillance have “effectively ensured the end of independent journalism in Morocco“.