Tuesday, May 11, 2004

At the last minute, I decided not to bring my laptop after all. I bought a backpack at Gigasport today. One of those huge camping backpacks with all sorts of latches and straps and zippers and secret compartments. Let's face it, backpacks and laptops don't mix.
The dullest blog in the world. Somebody's been keeping this a secret from me. It's hilarious.

I gotta get some sleep. Some Z's. Some shuteye. Flight leaves in about 6 hours!

Monday, May 10, 2004

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: "For someone who considers himself in many ways a hawk and who did and does believe in American power as a force for good in the world (most recently in the Balkans) it is difficult to describe the depth of the chagrin over watching the unfolding of a story which reads in many ways like a parody of Chomskian screeds against American villainy. "

(And just in case you're wondering, yes I posted that because I agree with it.)
Hello people. Tomorrow morning I'm off to Cairo, where I'll be researching a short piece for a hotel magazine about top design stores in the Zamalek district. After that, I'll be following the route of Moses. I'll be wandering around the wilderness of Sinai for a generation and I'll never get to see the promised land because I struck the rock instead of speaking to the rock. Duh!

No, seriously, over land and sea we'll be heading to Aqaba and then to Petra, Jordan, and back again to Cairo, all in nine days. I'll bring along my laptop and, if possible, I'll post something from the road.

Today I had a funny little adventure at the Egyptian embassy in Prague. I called this morning to check if it would be possible to re-enter Egypt after leaving, or if I would need a special multiple-entry visa. The woman on the other end of the line said yes, indeed, that would only be possible if I got a special visa ahead of time, here in Prague. And I'm leaving first thing tomorrow morning and the consular section closes in 40 minutes. (Soon after, I called back and asked if my traveling companion needed to come as well, in person. She said no, only one of us had to come.)

So I hopped in a cab and headed up to Bubenec, the diplomatic district. (Of course I hadn't even taken a shower yet.) The Egyptian embassy is a pretty run-down place, sort of an old-school bureaucratic waiting room with a single dirty couch, a lonely wooden desk and ceilings and walls stained from cigarette smoke. I began filling out the forms and noticed a space in the top right corner for a photo. Oops. Alarm bells. The woman said nothing about photos. I had no photos.

So I asked the man behind the desk if he spoke English, and he said yes. I explained my situation. The only words he could muster were, "Yes, photo." Finally he said, "Moment." I soon realized he was just the security guard.

After some minutes, an important-looking man with a suit (the consul?) walked in and entered his office, which was just off the waiting room. He gestured for me to come in. I sat down and explained my whole itinerary, to which he replied, "It is no problem! You cab get the visa at the border, no problem!"

"And I can come back into the country?"

"Yes, you get the visa at the border! You fly to Cairo?"

"Yes, but then I can come back into Egypt after I go to Jordan?"

"Yes, no problem! You have American passport? No problem!"

I've been in this situation before, traveling to Serbia, and I know there's no point in asking, "Are you totally, absolutely, 100% sure?" So I just laughed and said, "So this trip was for nothing. It was nice to see you though." He laughed. We all laughed. Hilarity.