The sleeper trains between Cairo and Egypt’s south are long and heavy. A miracle happens as you go to bed in Cairo and wake up in Aswan, 700 kms south, hotter, headier, and more African. Something changes on the journey, and as you were sleeping, you did not have a chance to quite see it.
In each train carriage there is a long corridor with little doors which lead into private two bed apartments. Each carriage has an attendant to check tickets, brings dinner and turns the little chairs into bunk beds for the night.
Our attendant is an Egyptian gentleman in his 50s, who brings not only dinner, but a large smile and plenty of jokes. Probing us, he asks where they are from and offers his opinion. He tells us of his hometown, in Cairo’s delta, of two daughters and his wife.
“You are my daughters now too” he says, bringing extra tea and offering advice for the night.
He leaves only laughter in our carriage, laughter which we carry down the Nile, carry into our dreams, so we wake up laughing in hot heady Aswan.
At the platform he stands at the door of the carriage and waves, just like a father waving his daughters away as they leave home. Still smiling.