Journey to Mena

Posted: December 8, 2014 by saraherhodes in 1914

Yesterday morning we disembarked, and I was looking after the Officer’s luggage, so I had a little leisure to look around.  I went into a café and was sitting amongst natives of all classes, who were jabbering and gesticulating to each other.  Some of them were smoking hookahs, others drinking.  You could buy almost anything in this place – food, drinks, smokes etc.  We had to travel in 3rd class carriages, they are very old and rattley, but we didn’t use the seats much, we had a five mile trip along the banks of the Nile, and it was awfully interesting.

The ground is very rich and fertile, and on all sides the natives were cultivating vegetables, rice, cotton etc.  We passed a number of native villages, mud huts covered with straw and all imaginable filth some of the natives are very dirty and foul in their habits.  Also passed through a number of fair sized towns, a mixture of old and new, good and bad buildings.  In the most ruined quarters you would find a good building and vice versa.  The streets and bazaars of these towns are a packed crowd of colour, the streets are one mass of shops open to the street, it is like the central market with a native crowd in place of the Adelaide crowd.

The streets are very narrow, badly drained and littered with filth. We thought we had to march out to Mena, but took electric tramcars.  We passed down crowded streets with beautiful buildings, old Pashas palaces, and fine estates.  It seems that every native sells cigarettes and oranges. You are besieged by about a dozen at a time, each offering more oranges for a paistre (21/2) than the other.

On our way to Mena we crossed the Nile, it was about a mile wide, and then we travelled along a big embankment through a lovely avenue of trees. Mena is about 10 miles from Cairo, and is really at the Pyramids.  We are encamped on the edge of the Sahara Desert, about a mile from the Pyramids. In reading you learn that there is no vegetation at all on the desert, but you only realize what it is really like when you see it.  It is sand, pure sand, with not a blade of grass of any sort as far as you can see.

We have to bivouac out in the open, there are no tents yet.  There are a lot of Territorials, and all the Australian Infantry camped here.  The Light Horse are about two miles away and the New Zealanders are at Heliopolis.


Notes:

Current location:

ColoniesMap1914 19141208

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