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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Aswan Egypt Day 3

After the Kom Ombo visit, we visited the many stalls set up along the Nile River docks for a bit of shopping. The male sellers called out to us, but we gave our business to an elderly lady who sat by the banks without a stall. She was selling belly dancing hip scarves, spread out on big cloth on the ground. A friend bought one from her, but I did not as I could not find a color I liked.

A few stalls later, I found a scarf I liked - a simple black one with silver coins and tassels. The seller showed us how to tie an Egyptian style hijab. It was relatively simple. The style was done using my own pashmina shawl. We could not do much shopping as the cruise ship was set to sail again - this time headed to Aswan.

We rushed back to the cruise ship - me in my Egyptian styled hijab! Which I have to add was very cool looking.



Back at the cruise ship, we took our showers and freshened up. Then we decided to take some pictures of ourselves in Egyptian styled hijab - much fuss was made over the tying of the hijab. But we had lots of fun doing it.

The cruise ship arrived at Aswan just after dinner and docked for the night. We decided to go for a night walk in Aswan. Aswan was more lively than the other towns we had been too along the Nile. Aswan was more of a city - it had many buildings along the Nile. Aswan is Egypt's sunniest southern city and ancient frontier town located about 81 miles south of Luxor - it has a distinctively African atmosphere.

I found out later that as of 6 October 2009, the last rainfall was a thunderstorm on May 13, 2006! I do not know how much rain Egypt gets in general - but while I was there, it did not rain a single day.

Our ship had just docked outside the Aswan police station. We walked along the streets - and came across a lively group of Nubians. They were beating drums outside of a photo studio. We guessed that this was for a wedding, and hung around wanting to watch what happened.

A group of boys - seven in all - were at the side playing. They instantly crowded around us curiously. And I attempted to speak to them in my basic Arabic. The oldest of the group, whose English was the best, was 15 year old Ahmed. The youngest looked to be about only 7 or 8 years old. I wondered why they were all out playing so late in the night - didn't they have to go to school. Ahmed told me that they did not have school the next day - a Friday. The school days were six days of a week with Friday off. Imagine that! I am used to a five day school week - how studious of the Egyptians.

Ahmed told me that his father was a cook at a nearby shop. And he lived nearby too. I asked if he was a Nubian, and he said he was not a Nubian. But his uncle was attending the wedding event inside. His friends also did not look Nubian. It was nice to see that Nubians and the other Egyptians had a good relationship. They all spoke Arabic by the way.

We hung around hoping to see the bride and groom. But it took a while for them to come out. Meanwhile the boys wanted us to watch them play football, but we were more interested in the wedding - typical gals we were!

We saw some little girls around, but they hung with their mothers mostly. There were no groups of girls running around and playing the way the boys were.

I got involved in a conversation with a Nubian older lady. Somehow I could understand their Arabic. And I told them where I am from. Then she looked at my friends who did not look like me - and asked where they were from. I said the same place. And she looked very confused. She then wanted to know if my country had people who looked only like me. I had to explain in my rudimentary Arabic that my country was multi-racial with people who looked different - like me and my friends!

Then another lady came - she could speak English. She told us about the wedding. And even invited us to join them for the wedding celebrations after the photo shoot. But it was late and we had only just arrived. So we did not dare join them!

Then she asked us to visit her at her home - she offered to do henna tattoos for us. We asked if she lived in the Nubian village. She said no, she lived in Aswan, and that the village was farther.

But she did not have paper to write her address, and neither did we. Then the bride and groom came out. And it was a missed opportunity. She would have been good to talk with at a home visit!

After the wedding procession left, a man approached us and invited us for tea at his family's jewelry store. He was pleasant enough, but his store just across the street looked immensely fancy with real gold jewelry. We had no money for that kind of purchases - so even though he said we would not be under any obligation to buy, we declined the invitation.

This by the way is a sales tactic. They invite you for tea, and then try and hook you with a product. And it actually works.

But in our case, we politely declined and said we would try and stop by the next day.

Then we walked back to the ship after saying bye to Ahmed and his friends.





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