The Life and Times of Bruce Bramson

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There came a time in my stay at Alexandria when for some reason we had several days off. A group of us arranged to tour what’s known as “Upper Egypt”, although on the map it seems like lower Egypt, since it is far south of Cairo. Remember, unlike most of the world’s rivers, the Nile flows northward.

We flew first to Abu Simbel, the site of the monuments to himself Ramses II built in the 13th Century BC. These huge monuments had to be moved to higher ground before the Aswan Dam was constructed. There’s much more about this World Heritage site here and elsewhere on the net, with many photos. (I don’t seem to have had a camera with me on this trip, as no photos survive that I took).

Aswan Location

The red arrow points to Aswan

This part of the tour occupied a half day, and we returned to the town of Aswan, located some distance below the High Dam. We stayed at the new Winter Palace, and after dinner, I walked the short distance into town, which stretches along the banks of the Nile river. It was a typical balmy night. Returning to the hotel, I found a nice walkway that hugged the river bank, then went up the slight wooded hill above town. Here I noticed a number of men sitting around on convenient benches, and realized I had found the local cruising spot! It was certainly one of the nicest ones I’ve found anywhere in the world, with lovely views of the Nile passing by. I helped myself to a couple of cocks that were offered, but unfortunately, just as I was finding some younger chaps, I realized I was being attacked by a case of Pharoah’s Revenge, also known as “Mummy Tummy”, and I had to make a bee-line for the hotel. There, I discovered to my dismay that the Lomotil tablets I was sure I had packed were nowhere to be found. I spent a miserable night “pissing through my asshole” (as it were). Emptied and shaky, I went down for breakfast and the first of our group to show up was our Thai draftsman. I explained my predicament and he went back to his room and brought me a small packet of something he’d brought from Thailand. It looked like the little green pellets we used to feed our rabbits, but he assured me it worked. Boy! Did it! I didn’t “move” again for over a week!

Later that day we flew again, this time to Luxor, where we stayed a couple of days. From there, we returned to Alexandria and work.

However, I had fallen in love with Aswan, and determined to return. As luck would have it, however, I did not get back there until 1981, and then I had a fine time. But much transpired before 1981, so my tales of Aswan will have to wait.

Meanwhile, here are some miscellaneous items related to my stay in Egypt:

Passport 1

Many stamps in Arabic

Passport 2

More visas and so forth


I don't recall what this was for

I was asked one day by one of the International team who was passing through Alex if I had any interest in going to Ecuador. I replied in the affirmative, but heard nothing for several months. The next time the same dude showed up, I enquired about Ecuador: “Oh, do you really wanna go there?” he asked. I said, in essence, “anything to get out of Alexandria”, and he said, “Fine: I’ll set it up!”

In the fullness of time, I was transferred to Quito, where there was a study going on to get more drinking water for the city. The notion was to tap streams high in the Andes: these streams ordinarily flowed east into the Amazon basin, but could be tapped and moved through bore-holes to the west slope, where they would flow into the Boca Toma river, which could be dammed to make a lake, from which water would be pumped up a short distance to existing treatment plants for Quito. My job was to take teams up into the Andes to sample these streams and to assess the quality of the water they might produce. This meant taking long trips by 4-wheel-drive vehicles into the sparsely inhabited lands above Quito, where we found haciendas with horses to rent and guides, which we used to get the samples.

Here is the only known photo of ME on a horse!


We reached altitudes well above 14,000 feet

A month or two into the work, we got the local holiday, Carnival. By this time we had learned we could take a railbus from Quito down to Guayaquil, and we obtained the necessary tickets. I still have my long-hand letter describing that adventure, and in my next page I’ll transcribe that, and illustrate it with photos taken on that very trip. After that I can regale you with many photos taken on subsequent rides on the G&Q, the narrow-gauge railway that climbed the Andes mountains, and was still somewhat operational in 1979. Here’s just one photo to whet your appetite!


Locomotives are fascinating!

I rode the tender behind this little steamer many times: it could make it to the town of Bukay, where  consolidations took over for the main climb up to Alausi. Stay with me for MORE about the Ferrocarriles Ecuatoreanos G&Q!



Written by Editor

May 31st, 2010 at 10:42 am

Posted in Ecuador,Egypt