From Ras el Bar and the end of one branch of the Nile, I aim for Raschid, and the end of another branch. To get there I must first head back to Damietta, catching an East Delta Travel company bus. From there I catch a shared taxi to a junction 5km from Raschid. I consider walking for about 200m before the heat stops me.
Raschid sits at the Western point of the Nile’s many entries into the Mediterranean. Its most famous son is a lump of carved rock now sitting in the British Museum. Europeans call this place Rosetta.
The biggest difficulty I’ve perhaps faced in Egypt is knowing which establishments are cafes (serving drinks only) and which are true restaurants. They look identical to me. I pop into one which even looks like it has a menu on the wall. Luckily an old guy at the gate speaks English. Its some sort of club. They don’t serve food, but he’ll see what he can do. After a few minutes he leads me out to a restaurant instead.
“There is only one restaurant in Raschid” he says. “That’s also a restaurant – closed today, and that too. I’ll take you to Mohammed’s place”.
Its a hop, skip, and a jump to Alexandria from Raschid’s transport depot, waiting perhaps a minute for the minibus to move off. Plantations of neatly aligned date-palms sidle onto the road, often with other crops in the space beneath them. Its either 60km or 40km. There are signs saying both within walking distance of one another.
The palms give out to a sprouting of industrial buildings. Its easy to tell we’re approaching a big city: the traffic grows to 4 lanes in either direction and simultaneously crawls to a standstill.