For the last two years I have escaped the drizzle and misery of “Exmas” by going to Egypt for a week, coming back on Christmas Eve. I stayed in the best hotel in Luxor, the Maritim Jolie Ville. Indeed last year Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of the Egyptian president, stayed there. I nearly fell over her (plus beefy security man) coming round a corner in the hotel.
But each time I go there, I get an upset stomach. I’m pretty careful, but it still happens. I’ve tended to put this down to change of climate, sudden heat, the stress of the journey and so on. But I noticed when I went to TripAdvisor that a lot of people, in every hotel, were complaining about this.
This evening I saw a news item on the BBC (also here on Norwich Evening News):
A couple have described how a dream holiday to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary became a nightmare after they both fell ill with a potentially fatal virus.
Nine weeks after returning home from the disaster cruise Keith Kiddell is still unable to go to work because of the damage caused by a serious E coli infection.
Both he and wife Jane, both 58, were struck with the potentially fatal 0157 strain of the virus during what should have been an idyllic cruise down the Nile.
Doctors are concerned that Mr Kiddell may have suffered long-term damage as the infection spread to his arthritic knee, leaving him unable to walk steadily.
I’ve always known that the boats were sudden death. I well remember going on a day cruise from Luxor to Dendera and back. This was day 1 of a 4 day cruise, if you stayed; but I only did the day trip. Everyone was tucking into the food, which looked delicious, served on spotlessly clean plates and so on.
I knew the score. So I ate nothing. I was quite hungry when I got back to the hotel.
Three days later, the other cruise passengers came back, after going up to Aswan. Apparently one and all had spent day 2 in their cabins, being sick. That food — the same food I saw and declined — had poisoned most of them.
The only reason for this horrible series of illness is laziness and negligence in the hotels. It can be nothing else. There is no need for people to get sick at all, never mind contract life-threatening forms of food-poisoning! It is purely down to carelessness by Egyptian staff.
I am glad I stayed away. I love Egypt, but I really do not need this sort of thing. Luxor is largely a tourist farm these days; the authorities need to get a grip on this problem.