Yesterday I had to move out of the lovely Longchamps hotel into the place downstairs, the Horus Hotel. (This building, in addition to two hotels, has several apartments in it. I don’t think that’s unusual in Cairo.)
The Horus looks like somebody grabbed the seventies by the hair and unceremoniously dumped them here without cleaning them first. The entire place stinks of stale cigarettes, there is a frightening brown, blue and gold fleur-de-lis/paisley carpet in the halls, and there are very uncomfortable shabby red velvet couches everywhere. In my bedroom there are two reading lights attached to the wall above the single bed that look exactly like the lights in Kendrick dorm at Simon’s Rock. That weirds me out a little bit.
More importantly and worryingly, I handed them my passport to fill out the registration slip, as you do every time you enter an Egyptian hotel, then asked them to keep it in the safe for me. I went out to look at flats later in the day and noticed on returning that they’d stuck it in the pigeonhole for my room even though nobody was manning the desk. When somebody did come to give me my key, I asked again that they put it in the safe. “I’ll leave it here overnight, it’s safe behind the desk.” No. Either in the safe or with me, not in an unmanned cubbyhole. The man looked surprised at my refusal, but did eventually stick it in the safe.
Before going out to look at flats I tried to use the spotty wireless here in the hotel. It wasn’t working in my room so I went to look for a better signal in the lounge. It was full of smoking people speaking French who had a dog with them. There was a man who may or may not work for the hotel sitting in one of the chairs against the wall eyeing me suspiciously as I looked for a place to plug my laptop in. It turned out the signal wasn’t that much better in the lounge (where do they keep their router? In the kitchens?) but it was good enough to e-mail my parents and whine about my frustrations with the hotel.
And then came my continued adventures with unsolicited winking: a guy sat down in the chair next to mine and wanted to plug his laptop in. My plug adaptor was in the wall, so I apologized for hogging the outlet. He said it was okay and then winked at me. What the hell?! Then he asked to use one of the extra slots in my outlet adaptor and I nodded. He winked at me. I got up to leave a few minutes later and told him I needed to unplug his computer for a minute while I got my adaptor back. He said this was fine and winked at me. I couldn’t get the plug to fit in the wall socket and when I called this to his attention he winked at me again.
At this time I am sending up a small yet fervent prayer to whatever merciful deity chooses to take it on: please let me leave the purgatory of the Horus Hotel as soon as possible and guide me through your gracious and loving wisdom to a beautiful and well-appointed flat that shall be my sanctuary from unsolicited winking. Thank you.