This is one of our first guest blog entries from Egypt and we are grateful for Jane telling us about the current situation outside of Cairo. Please make sure to visit her website to learn more.
Well firstly events in Cairo don’t really reflect the life in Luxor, the fields are still tilled just like the depictions in the tombs, old men still sit around in coffee shops playing dominos, young men cheer on their favourite football teams on poor quality TV’s set up in coffee shops, women set their bread to rise in the sun, the Nile flows and the sun shines. Not quite the picture you are getting from the media.
Well Luxor is so not Cairo and even there the problems are localised to a few, small distinct areas. I have friends in Cairo living at the back of Tahrir Square who have had no idea there is anything going on. Here in Luxor nothing changes and the pace of life is the same, except it is not. Because of the media portrayal there are no tourists. Now in Luxor this is a huge problem because we have nothing else. The entire economy of the city is dependent on tourism, there is NOTHING else. So at first, people tightened their belts and lived on savings. Now desperation is sinking, medicines can’t be bought, meat is a distant memory, children haven’t got books for school. The wife of our chef died, she was having treatment for breast cancer but he could no longer afford the medicine. There are shortages of petrol, gas bottles for cooking, food staples such as oil, flour, tea and sugar. The people of Luxor will tell you it was better under Mubarak, they may not have had democracy but what does that means to a subsistence farmer or a tour guide supporting an extended family. They did have food, work and security. Tourists were relaxed and happy, 10,000 a day at Karnak sometimes 12,000. Plenty of tips. Now they are lucky to get a 10th of that and it is mostly day trippers from the Red Sea not people eating, drinking, and shopping in Luxor.
It is great for the few visitors that come, hotels can be beaten down in price to the point there is no profit, taxis will cover their petrol costs only, shops sell goods at any price, the sites are empty and some wonderful photos can be obtained. However regular visitors are so sad and uncomfortable about the situation, especially those with friends in Luxor. They try and spread their tourist dollars around but they have only so many dollars and there are so many hands reaching out for them.
I have had guests all through this time, they have gone to all parts of Egypt and not one single one of my guests has had a single issue anywhere. An American guest originally from Czechoslovakia said to me ‘call this a revolution!’ He came for 8 weeks right in the middle of the stirring events and initially was doubtful about staying but when he saw what it was really like he stayed here the full 8 weeks. I am trying, written some books to try and get an alternative income stream. So please, if you love Egypt, come and have a great, safe and enjoyable holiday.
Jane is the owner of Flats in Luxor and has written widely on her experience living in Luxor, witnessing first-hand the daily activities of local Egyptians and gaining first-hand access to the many monuments and sites of ancient Thebes. For more information, please visit her lodging’s website – http://www.flatsinluxor.co.uk.
The opinions expressed in this guest blog entry do not necessarily represent the views of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities nor its chapter in Vancouver.