Aunt Elvira’s and my great Egyptian adventure

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By Editha Bartley

It is not one world out there. So many of us who live and work in these more-or-less remote areas of New Mexico tend to forget how fortunate we are to live in such a safe and secure area.

I watched breaking news from Egypt with much interest. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend four days in Cairo while on that great European tour with my father’s sister, Aunt Elvira. I have been inside, into the very heart and center of the Great Pyramid and I have ridden a camel around and near the Sphinx. The museum filled with centuries of Egyptian artifacts was a very special visit for us. However, the highlight (if one can call it a highlight) was a totally different series of events.

We stayed at the Semiramis Hotel, right on the banks of the Nile river. We had dinner every night on the roof of the hotel, with a sea of stars overhead and the romantic (to me as a college student, anyway) ambiance of boats / ships ferrying their cargoes up and down the river, with the beautiful Egyptian music playing from the many cafes across the river. We were joined one night by a group of “foreigners,” men who came to their table sporadically and who seems to be a bit uneasy about this meeting place. Aunt Elvira spoke fluent German and quickly figured out they were obviously from Germany. Our room was on the second floor of the hotel and we had a large balcony that stretched from one end of the hotel to the other, with only plant dividers to separate them.

We enjoyed sitting out on that balcony every night, soaking in the sights and should of that beautiful city, and its famous river. Germans shared the dining room with us, we noticed them begin to congregate on this balcony, about four rooms away. Within a brief period of time one, then another strolled down to say hello to us. They spoke Germany, but fortunately, Aunt Elvira answered and greeted them in English. We knew they were having a very private discussion and obviously we were note supposed to know what they were discussing.

Within a day or so we were off on yet another leg of our big tour – Turkey, Greece, then back to Rome for a tour of Italy. One of the missing links in travel at that time was current news from home and the rest of the world. I spotted a newsstand just around the corner from our hotel in Rome and almost ran to buy the current Time magazine – anything to catch up on what we had been out of the loops on – news wise. The big news story in that particular issue of Time was the rounding up a Nazi cell of radical Germans who had their headquarters at the Semiramis Hotel in Cairo!

Aunt Elvira and I had to mull this series of events over for several days, which included a lot of “what ifs?” Obviously, not being able to answer them in German was a positive for us. We also moved furniture in the room to block the doors, in case someone decided to visit us unannounced. Fearless woman, almost, but not quite!

The unrest in our world gives any of us who like to travel pause to think. And mob rule in never good. may Egypt survive this revolt with most of their treasures unharmed. It is a fascinating country to visit – and I’m so glad I was there so long ago.

Editha Bartley  lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.