Land of the pharaohs

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

When I was told last month that I was going to Egypt with a local soccer team I was delighted.

I mean, I am not exactly a well-heeled globetrotter and when such an opportunity presents itself I realise how fortunate I am to do the job that I do.

But I have to confess that in my extreme excitement I was also a little anxious about what I would wear. In my ignorance I assumed that in Egypt all women must wear scarves and long cloaks.

After a bit of research, however, my mind was put at ease by those in the know. They told me I could wear my grubby jeans and sneakers to my heart's content and no one would even notice.

As soon as you land at Cairo International Airport you are greeted by a warm, sultry wind from the desert.

I was surprised by the size of the city - a giant metropolis made up entirely of grey high-rise buildings.

On our arrival at the swanky Sheraton Hotel I discover to my delight that the patio of my room overlooked the Nile, which is a thing of beauty at night.

Our party, including the Platinum Stars players, was taken on a tour of the Cairo Museum. It was not popular with the team because they might be many things, but historians they are not.

Some of the players became spaced out when the guide delved into the history of young King Tutankhamun.

"I wish I'd stayed at the hotel," said one youngster, looking like an Arab sheikh in his headgear.

An invitation to see the mummies was refused by the players who rushed out and sat on the museum's lawn.

But they spoke glowingly about the Nile cruise they had been on and advised my colleague from another daily newspaper and me not to miss it.

Next stop was the market, where the players excitedly spent their Egyptian pounds on gifts for loved ones. Once the shopping spree was over, it was time for the serious business of doing battle with the Red Devils.

And while they did that, the rest of us opted for sundowners and relaxation. We later went to watch them train.

The Platinum Stars trained with the kind of zeal that would have satisfied their loyal fans. Their performance did wonders for their spirits.

They put on a show for the hotel staff and guests who gaped, fascinated, as the players sang, ululated and danced with typical South African passion to favorites' such as the Umshini Wam and other popular songs.

You have not been to the country of the Pharaohs if you have not seen the pyramids. As many travelers have probably written before, that and riding the camels are highlights.

We indulged ourselves in the tourist thing and allowed ourselves to be conned out of our pounds by the enterprising desert dwellers who sold us all kinds of trinkets.

When the match was finally played our happiness was dented by our team's 2-0 loss.

We left for the airport immediately after the match. The short three-day trip left one strangely unsatisfied and I hope I get another chance to explore Egypt to my heart's content.