Saturday, May 11, 2013

Nubian Village on the Nile


Cairo was crazy: huge and dirty and trafficky. Within about 10 minutes of leaving the airport, Bart was already relieved that he'd decided NOT to bid on it for our next post. After all, we have Beijing under our belts already - I loved our tour in Beijing, but it definitely taught me that I am not a big city girl.

Our first day there, we hit the Khan al Khalili Souk to do some shopping and then let the kids swim in the hotel pool into the evening. On our second day, we went to the pyramids and the Egyptian Museum, then had dinner outside with STJ and CL while the kids ordered room service together. Driving along the river next to our hotel, we pointed at the burnt-out shell of a building across the way, surrounded by the fancy hotels that line the road near Tahrir Square.

"What's that building?" we asked our guide.

"Oh," she waved vaguely, "those are all hotels."

Riiiight, we responded, but how about that burnt-out building next to them?

Clearly, she did not want to answer, but after continued questioning, she finally allowed that it was the party headquarters building, destroyed during the revolution.

Cairo highlights, you ask? Well, Ainsley was not impressed with the mummies in the Museum. She thought they would be wrapped in toilet paper, staggering around with their arms aloft, but "they're all just dead," she said, visibly disappointed. Clearly the girl watches too much Scooby Doo. And none of us were impressed with the traffic. At one point we were driving around under the highway, across bumpy, trash-strewn paths, dodging squatters and old tires, in an effort to evade traffic. But it was all too much for Bart and CL, who kept making "get off the X" jokes that really weren't all that funny.

So that was Cairo.

After a day-and-a-half, we all boarded a plane for Aswan, where we planned to hop on a little cruise ship and make our way to Luxor along the Nile. But before we boarded the ship, we took a big motor boat to an island in the middle of the Nile. On the island was a small Nubian village - our guide took us there because Ainsley was desperate to see a crocodile, and they supposedly had a few crocs in the village. Also, he said, we could sample some Nubian food and tea while we were there.

Yes, there were crocodiles in the village. It was sad, really. They had one big crocodile in a small cement cage with a wire grate for a lid, and when we peered in, one of the villagers started poking him with a stick - to prove he was real, I guess. Poor guy started snapping and trying to jump at her. In a smaller glass tank nearby, there were two baby crocodiles. They pulled one out of the tank and handed it first to Shay, then to his friend Scott, to hold for photos. Its tiny snout was tied shut so it couldn't bite them. Again: sort of sad. But Ainsley was enthralled.

Next we went up on the roof of the house and sat while one of the women brought us mint and hibiscus tea, along with bowls of bread, "black honey" (molasses), some kind of crumbly sesame paste and something our guide simply called "very old cheese." The cheese floated murkily in the bowl, looking less than tempting, but hey, I figured, when in Rome. I tried it - several of us did - and it wasn't bad, but it wasn't exactly good, either. We asked the guide about the cheese, but he just said "oh, I've never tried that stuff. It's just for the tourists." Nice. I stuck with the bread and molasses after that.

As the sun was setting, we hopped back in the motorboat and headed to another island, where our hotel for the night was located. And that was our first night in Aswan.

Pictures below are in no particular order, but hey: it's almost time for bed over here. No time to re-arrange.

View of the Nile from our hotel room in Aswan.
This kid latched onto our boat and hitched a ride.
The kids on the roof of our motor boat.
Our driver.
Very old cheese in the middle bowl.


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