For the life of me I couldn’t find my way back to my room,
each minute another turned page in The Hunt for Red October.
I’ve never been in a more massive hotel, especially considering it was only one floor.
The architectural footprint seemed to cover several thousand acres.
Egypt has lots of space, does things big.
No elevators here, just ramps and short stairways up and down to different levels
spun off to all compass points and winding every which way.
I saw myself moving through an Escher masterpiece.
The room numbers were not designated by floor, obviously.
By wing, I was guessing.
I’d tried my keycard in numerous rooms numbered 17.
At least as time ticked by and my heart rate rose,
I’d come to fear they were different Room 17s.
But then I became even more afraid
that I’d come to the same door 17 again and again.
Leave it to a nation of embalming connoisseurs.
The Egyptians make great beer.
Being very drunk did not enhance my navigational ability,
nor did it help to hold in check my mounting anxiety.
Eventually I found myself back in the lobby through chance.
It was empty, the front desk unstaffed at this hour.
The idea of having checked into the Overlook Hotel crept through my head.
The hallways were lengthy here too, interminably so.
So far, however, no twins.
A hedge maze grew somewhere outside, probably easier to navigate.
I hit the bell on the counter.
A sleepy looking clerk materialized from a back room.
He spoke English.
A porter led me to my room many, many buildings away.
We undulated our way, a serpentine sway of curves and sliders.
In Egypt you tip for every service of any kind,
but the suggested amounts are all so small.
When I finally arrived at the right Room 17,
I know I gave my tour guide his biggest tip of the day,
if not of his entire career thus far.