Why is there so much traffic, today of all days? At 10 am? The taxis and the microbuses, the lorries and the private cars, all mixed up, moving on painfully slow? I would like to shout at the taxi driver: speed up, hurry on!
I rush out, leave the taxi behind me, cross the jammed street and only now do I realize that something is wrong: microbuses are standing crosswise in the street. Why is that?
Two microbuses are blocking the street, a deafening chorus of horns and shouting men everywhere. I am looking for my taxi driver and give him a banknote – it’s not worth waiting for me, this will take longer.
A group of men is standing in the shadow of the Egyptian Products store and is discussing hot-headedly and aloud. Gradually, I realize what’s going on: the minibus drivers are complaining. Now of all days, when I … They are complaining about their miserable salary and standard of living and many other issues. A young man is trying to guide the traffic through the crowd and the blocking minibuses, the car drivers are angry. So are the bus drivers. Some police men are listening to the complaints. The knot of people is increasing, moving from right to left and left to right along the street, carefully staying in the shadow of the old fashioned, dusty department store.
I’m staying in the shadow on the sidewalk as if I was fixed onto it. I am waiting for the minibus driver in whose bus I forgot something, half an hour ago. I am looking at each single driver, who is arriving, at his bus and the seat covers. I know the driver and the seat covers are blue plush. Now and then, I have to sidestep, depending on where the demonstrating knot of people is moving. He is not among them, does not fit there at all, since he is a bit older, seems to be more relaxed and mature.
Someone asks me if he could help me. Someone else asks me where I want to go. Another one, what I am looking for. I thank them with a smile and eventually explain what I am waiting for. The drivers are still shouting and discussing. Constantly, more microbuses are driving up, line up or drive on.
Here in Dahar is the final bus station. Every microbus between the hotel road and Dahar has to pass this place sooner or later. That’s why I’m waiting here. Someday, the one I’m looking for will come as well.
How many microbuses are there in Hurghada? After one hour of waiting I think there must be several hundreds. There are other lines that start resp. end on the other side of the huge roundabout.
The demonstration has dispersed itself a bit; only the core does not want to stop discussing. A small, skinny guy is stirring it up repeatedly. However, most of the drivers have returned to their buses. Up to now, they haven’t noticed me. Being otherwise just a passenger that climbs into the next bus to Magawish, have I turned to be part of the street picture: paperboy, litter bin and street sign, me, street lamp.
A driver hesitatingly approaches and asks me what I am waiting for. I explain it to him. One way takes about an hour or one fifteen minutes. I figure out, how much more I have to wait until my driver must show up. And what if he takes a break? The driver tells me, there is no brake because here, they all have to wait anyway in order to leave again one by one.
It’s darned hot. A small group of drivers talks to me, wants to help me, encourage me. I gratefully accept to get engaged in a conversation, keeping my eyes watching the other side of the street that lies in the midday heat. I fetch a cold bottle of water and continue waiting.
Two hours: meanwhile, all buses look the same no matter if they are old or new, dented, clean and neat or dirty and wracked and ruined, high or flat. The same with the drivers: although there are some with and without beard, slim and fat ones, some dressed with T-shirts and others with brown, green or blue kaftans. There are bold headed ones, others with curly hair or some with turbans or caps.
Half an hour to go… I’ve seen that one before, the red T-shirts stands out… My driver isn’t there. I’m losing hope. Maybe he made a break, is smoking his shisha and sipping his sweet tea. I’m thinking of my papers and feel miserable. Maybe it’s the heat as well. I cannot stand any longer and sit down on the stores‘steps for a couple of minutes. Suddenly, I again attract attention…
I return to my old place on the sideway. Once more, I am watching the arriving microbuses. No, he isn’t among them. Yet, maybe now, I would not even recognise him anymore. Tired and exhausted, I call a taxi – I don’t want to see any microbuses anymore, I only want to go home.
Since then, day after day I hope to see the driver hand me over my papers with a big smile. For sure… one day…