Arriving in Egypt

After 28 hours of travel time, I arrived in Luxor, not really aware of what time it was, or even what day it was. For those of you trivia buffs, most of Egypt is 7 hours ahead of Ontario/EST, roughly turning my sleep/work schedule completely upside down.

It was not an easy trip in either. Once at the baggage claim at Cairo, I came to the sinking realization that only one bag has shown up, and my other large suitcase (the one with needles, vaccines, and various drugs and medications) was nowhere to be found. After spending almost an hour filling out paperwork and trying to understand the arabic-english hyrbid language most officials here speak, I thought all was lost and that the badly-needed suppplies were being destroyed by security. I hung out for another hour waiting for my next flight, and as if by some sort of magic, an airport worker appeared out of nowhere with my bag in tow. There were no followup questions about the contents, and I thanked him and hightailed it to my next flight. After a quick hour flight into Luxor, we landed in the tiny airport and waited for our bags. Once again, I was left standing in front of an empty baggage belt, missing one bag. This time it was my personal bag. I felt a little bit like making a scene at the thought of spending my first few weeks in Egypt rotating through the two tshirts and two pairs of underwear packed in my carry-on, but at least the drug suitcase made it safely to it’s destination (although naming it the ‘drug suitcase’ may get my name placed on a few no fly lists in the future!). Once again there was more waiting in lines and paperwork, more Arablish. This time, my bag was not on my flight at all, and was instead being “rushed” on the next flight to Luxor. After a few more hours wait, I had my underwear and other items at hand. The one thing this country does have going for it is it’s customer service, even if it is a little lacking in organization.

We arrived at the clinic around midnight Luxor time and headed straight to bed. Waking up just a few hours later, my first order of business was to hang my head in the toilet for a few minutes, fighting either travel sickness or the Egyptian dinner I had had the previous evening. After that, I suited up in the lightest possible ‘modest’ clothing I could and went down to the clinic.

Animal Care in Egypt is a UK-based charity that employs local veterinarians and workers to run a 24 stall full-service veterinary clinic to provide free veterinary service to the local working equids. They survive totally on donations and volunteers giving their time when they can. Currently they employee three Egyptian-trained veterinarians, and host a variety of vets, vet students and vet techs throughout the year.

After meeting the in-paitents and going over their carefully written medical records, we had our first drop-off of the day, a chestnut horse, tied lying down the back of a pickup truck. As they dragged it off the truck, I realized in horror it was unable to stand properly. She splayed her feet and her head hung from a almost 70 degree angle to the rest of her neck. After a quick exam and a brief history (that was then translated to me in English) our best deducation was that she had been tied up in a harness collar when the overloaded carriage overturned, throwing her to the ground, and after feeling the area, there was little doubt she had broken her neck. After the Egyptian vet explained the situation to the owner, he began to untie her and try to load her. I asked what was happening, and was told that he refused to euthanize because he “loved her too much”. With a heavy heart and a stomach no longer just feeling queasy from the travelling, I watched them load her up and take her home to ‘heal’. I am quickly realizing that veterinary medicine, even when accessable and free, may not be the answer to these poor animals’ problems.

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