Egypt

The rain came down without any warning. But this was not just normal rain. It started with a few drops then the dark skies suddenly erupted and dumped their deluge on the hotel. One minute we were dining in the Arabic restaurant, the next, a large hole appeared in the ceiling and a torrent of water poured through. Our waiter, Mohammed, looked up, smiled and asked if we would like any drinks. Reassured by his presence we ordered beer and wine and tried to ignore the chaos around us. A waterfall appeared by the entrance and the restaurant started to flood. We raised our feet and carried on eating. Waiters donned makeshift macs made from blue plastic bags and attacked the water with brushes and mops. They swept it to one side only find no culverts and the water running back towards them. The centre of the restaurant with the exposed roof started to disintegrate and guests fled for the safety of the corners. There was no panic, only laughter and resignation. Praise be to God, said one of them, First rain in 3 years.  The guests didn’t share their enthusiasm especially those that had fled the cold of the Russian winter.

 

The storm continued and white flashes illuminated the black sky as the lightning hit the sea and the thunder rumbled towards us. We ate what we could then retreated to the main restaurant upstairs.  Water was pouring from the light sockets and a maintenance man stood on a ladder trying to cut the power off. We expected him to explode at any minute but he just took it in his stride and moved around the room laughing and joking with his assistant. We took a table by the window as the waiters threw yellow striped towels everywhere and laughed loudly. Glasses crashed to the floor and kids ran around as the water continued to pour through. A cake appeared with a single candle on it and a group of waiters strode forward banging trays and singing loudly. They moved to a table in a corner where a young Russian couple were trying to eat. They surrounded them, clapped loudly and chanted their song. One of them took the girl, put her in his arms and danced around the table with her. Everyone laughed.

This seemed to break the ice and the diners just ignored the water and carried on eating. The sound of Frank Sinatra echoed through the dining hall as Les from Blackpool tried a crude imitation of the maestro. The power flickered on and off intermittently and each bout of darkness was greeted with loud cheers. We returned to our rooms as the storm abated. Our power had returned but others lay on couches in the lobby. One very large Russian couple lay in each others arms drunk. Water poured from the ceiling and the workers had donned shower caps to protect them against the rain.

In the morning, buckets were scattered everywhere and water trickled from the ceiling. Black clouds appeared ominously on the horizon and we prepared ourselves for another storm.  Thank God we are going home today. We hope.

© Graham Walker 2012

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