On the Nile, El Haman, Egypt

Today we sailed all day, and Adel let me sit and steer the boat up the Nile for an hour or so. I sat on the mats watching the world pass as I zig zagged the felucca up the river with my foot on the rudder. We pulled up to shore in the late afternoon and Sarah, Rich and I went ashore with Adel. He led us to his village to show us where he lives. His village sits on an oasis on the Nile, and there’s huge green field leading up to the village – a strange thing to see amid all the desert wasteland just a few hundred yards inland from the river. The field is backed by tons of lush palm trees with the village on the hill above that. As Adel led us through the field to the village we passed the local women balancing those huge pots of water on their heads (as most locals do). Everyone was calling out to us, “Hello!” or “What is your name?” When we entered the village, people were coming out of their houses to see us, and the children would just follow us around watching us. One thing I noticed about the village is that someone must have come here with about 1,000 of those circular neon lights, because every house had one mounted and lit up over the door. We went to Adel’s home – he lives with his mother, grandmother, and six brothers and sisters. He showed us his room which was small with a beaten mud floor, brick walls covered in mud to make them smooth, and a ceiling made up of palm fronds stripped of their leaves and laid across the top of the room. Other larger fronds had been laid over the top of those to create more shade. He has a wooden bed, a wardrobe, and a small table with an electric fan. Above all the very first thing I noticed when we walked in was a green gecko sitting on the wall, eventually making its way up the wall and out over the top of the wall. We sat there and met his entire family while Adel bathed in the nearby courtyard. His sister had a large pitcher of water and at his command she would pour the water over his squatting body. Their compound consisted of a courtyard with attached rooms opening out onto it. In one section of the area there were dates drying in the sun, and in another there were large blocks of mud and a huge kiln to bake the mud into bricks.

Adel gave us some dates, and once he’d changed his clothes we walked across the village to meet his wife. She lives with her family on the other side of the village. Her room was much the same as Adel’s, only smaller, and instead of using her one electric socket for an electric fan she’d managed to get a ceiling fan mounted on a huge pole installed across the ceiling. Adel showed us some photos of his from previous boat trips and from his wedding before it was time for us to go. Being in the village (our first anywhere) was a really amazing experience; we got to actually see how these people were living, not just the tourist side of it.

The men and boys were all dressed in the traditional one-piece robe, but all the little girls had second, third and fourth hand Salvation Army dresses on. The worst clothing ever. When we were walking around the village I didn’t see inside many other houses, so to get a better idea of how others lived, because everything is walled in. Each family has their own walled compound, like a fort to live in and keep their animals.

After our walk through the village we went back to the boat to see the other guys and prepare dinner before it got too dark. Adel built a bonfire on the beach, then it was back to sleep under the stars again.

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