Thursday, November 9th
He sits at the head of the table, but seems miles away, lost in thought; he draws a deep breath and begins to ramble his story quickly, as though speaking it that way releases it:
”We were all packed like sardines, no leg room for anything. I couldn’t get a good seat, because they were mostly women and children. My leg accidentally brushed against the woman next to me, and she rudely reprimanded me, and I asked her- where do you want me to place my legs in this tin can? I couldn’t even ask for more room, because, the priority, of course, is given to the women and children. I’m a man, I can handle it, but I felt bad for the kids. In the morning, the sun in the desert is brutal, it’s very, very hot. The drivers are going so fast, they break the speed meter, going over the maximum 220 km/hour; they must, if they go slower, the tires of the truck would dig into the desert, paralyzing us.
I held a little girl, from HalabI believe, tightly, so she wouldn’t fly off, her parents each holding a child each, and I was worried the entire time for her. We continued like this for a few hours, until we took a break in between. After that, we continued our journey, and somewhere in the mountains, we crossed a tree, signaling that we have arrived in Egypt. That was it- a tree.“
“We continued our trip until an accident happened in front of us that worried the driver who drove into the desert away from the scene and dropped us off with some water and disappeared for 8 hours. We were terrified, especially for the kids, as we were told to keep a lookout for black scorpions- every noise we heard became a black scorpion.”
Waseem continues, “At 10 pm, a driver arrived, and we forced him to stay with us until another one came to take us. We went back into the truck and began again. This time, the driver was Egyptian, he was much kinder than his counterpart, and drove slower- mostly because he did not want the authorities to notice since they were always close by. This part took so long, because every time we drove for a little bit, we had to maneuver and navigate around military patrols doing their rounds. But finally, we reached the outskirts of a town where they dropped us off.
At the train station, I called Mohamed to ask where he was since I couldn’t see anyone waiting for me, only to have him tell me it seemed that I was dropped off in Edfu, and that I needed to board a train to Aswan. As I’m waiting with the family that was with me on my trip, a police officer walks by and I drop to the child’s eye level, pretending to play with her while telling her to not make a sound. I’m sure he knew, we were very obvious- dusty, dirty, smelly from the journey. The train ride was short, and Mohamed met me and took me to his relative’s house. They were very nice people. I showered, ate and napped until the train to Cairo, and when I got on, I was worried we would be stopped, but Mohamed had arranged with his friends in the police force, so we were fine, thank god.”