TRAVEL THERE: STARVING , DAZED & CONFUSED IN ALEX
The smallest things trip you up when traveling – like landing at the Library of Alexandria mid-day. If there were vending machines in the Library we didn’t find them. There was no coffee bar. We found a sorry excuse for a gift shop, but all they had were tacky souvenirs. We were about ready to eat a few books.
Where’s the Fish Market?
Instead of just finding the closest place to eat, Bill decided our next stop should be The Fish Market, a restaurant recommended to us by several people as the best food in Alexandria. So Bill started a campaign to find this marvelous place. There was one small problem. No one knew what he was talking about.
One of the first people he asked directed us to go back towards Fort Qaitby, where we’d visited earlier in the day. He was all ready to head that way when I pulled out my phone and showed him the directions he’d gotten would take us, not to a restaurant called The Fish Market, but to an actual open air fresh fish market in the old part of the city.
So, he tried another tack. The people he was talking to were confused by his inquiry. Most thought he wanted to buy fish and directed him to various grocers in the area. Finally, he found someone who would listen long enough for him to explain that he wanted a restaurant where you were able to pick out your fresh fish for cooking and then have it served to you at the table. Bingo! Someone knew exactly what he was talking about. They said they didn’t know if the name was right, but there was such a restaurant in a mall that’s connected to the Four Seasons Hotel.
Bill was beaming. He decided we’d grab a cab and head to the other end of the Corniche where the elegant Four Seasons Hotel was the anchor of a popular mall.
Terror in a Taxi
Bill hailed a cab and negotiated the fare. We headed off with the beach just over our left shoulder. We anticipated a short ride along on the main drag.
Suddenly, there was a big traffic jam due to some construction. Our driver left the main drag and headed off away from the beach. I’ve already told you how scary it was when we got off the major thoroughfares in the hantoor. I really wasn’t paying all that much attention to our taxi driver or his vehicle until he started taking short cuts through parking lots.
Remember those terrorist I was worried I’d run into in Dahab? Well, suddenly I was afraid they’d found me in Alex. I realized the noise on the radio was actually some sort of political rant. Of course, I couldn’t understand what was being said, but the tone is the same all over the world.
Then I took a look at our driver. He had the same beard and crazy look every terrorist on the television seemed to have. Hanging from the rear view mirror were a selection of Islamic prayer beads. Please understand. I don’t think every Muslim is a terrorist, but I was beginning to think the one driving our car was. There were a number of decals on the windows and none of them looked like they were devoted to a prophet of peace.
We had no idea where we were. He’d made so many turns since leaving the Corniche I couldn’t even guess where the beach might be. I started to think about the fact that this was our first day in Alex and it would be a few days before anyone expected to hear from us again. What could happen to us before anyone even realized we were missing?
When I was young, my favorite Bible verse was, “What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee,” a verse from Psalms. The rational person I walk around as most of the time was pretty sure everything would turn out OK, but that person who thought Dahab was the end of my line was quickly taking over. I had forgotten about the verse on the way to Dahab, but suddenly, it was on my mind. I began to repeat it silently. Rational me thought everything would be OK. Irrational me wasn’t taking any chances.
Before too long, my friend the terrorist was back in familiar territory. His detour had taken him around the construction and he was about to turn right onto the Corniche. Part of me felt a little silly, but I was reminded how fragile life can be. All of us are one careless decision away from tragedy. Keeping that in mind makes each moment sweeter.
Soon we were getting out of the taxi and heading towards the mall. Would The Fish Market Restaurant be inside?