The city of
The two of us began our stay in
Joining back up with our group at the hotel, we took a boat out to
We were invited into the home of a Rastafarian-leaning Nubian gentleman who went by "JJ", seemed to know everyone on the island, and could have easily passed for the Nubian Godfather. We drank fresh, chilled mango juice and saw photographs and video from his wedding. One posed photograph showed the groom brandishing a large whip in front of his bride, who faced him with palms pressed together in front of her heart, as if in prayer or plea. Our uneasiness over this picture was only slightly allayed when our guide explained that the whip pertained to a traditional Sudanese wedding dance between groom and best man.
We trolled around the
After several minutes in the chilly water, I joined the others on shore for shisha and Nubian coffee, which was not quite as bold as Ethiopian coffee but beautifully and piquantly spiced. Then, once we had dried off, we hired camels and rode inland over part of the
That night, we ferried out to
We returned to the city late at night and, sadly, were forced into supporting the intrusion of American fast food abroad, since the only place to grab a quick dinner at that hour was the McDonald's. Maybe I was just paranoid and self-conscious, but I swear the Egyptians we passed on the street were laughing at the Americans carrying their red and yellow paper sacks of greasy, supply-chained, ultra-standardized, factory-produced fast food.
Suzanne and I stopped in a little shop to buy a couple bottles of water. As we were walking back to the hotel, we began to hear offensive catcalling behind us. It started as kissing noises, and then we began hear an Egyptian voice calling, "Hey! Hey! Hey, girls! Hey! Want some company? Hey, girls, want some company?" It followed us for about a block, after which I turned to Suzanne, and I believe my exact words were, "I'm gonna punch this guy in the face. I'm gonna kill someone." We heard the pace of the footsteps behind us quicken to catch up with us, and the next "Hey!" came from just behind us. I whipped around. I was angry. I was ready. It was our tour guide. Our lanky, goofy, mischievous Egyptian tour guide was screwing with us. He laughed and laughed, hugged us, and made fun of the infuriated and indignant expression on my face. It became a favorite joke between us for the rest of the trip. Perhaps nine months of harassment as a foreign woman in
A late night was followed by a very early morning, as we had to join the police convoy at in order to travel southward to
I had passed out on the back seat on the bus ride to
Back at the hotel in
We spent the next day on the water. It was a day of complete relaxation, a leisurely boat trip on a bright, lazy day that recalled time passed on the lakes at home on beautiful, muggy summer days. We read, played cards, drank cold beers from our cooler, and napped under the canopy of our canvas-sailed felucca. Stopping every so often to swim in the cool water, we inevitably drew a crowd of curious Egyptian boys with whom we threw Frisbee. Good alumni that we are, Suzanne and I made sure to fly our Clemson flag from the stern of the boat. It waved proudly in the breeze and glinted vivid orange under the splendid sun.
At night, we docked at a little sand beach with two other tourist boats. The boat assistants built a campfire, Egyptian drums appeared out of nowhere, and suddenly the quiet beach was transformed into a spirited circle of singing and dancing. We spun, stomped, stepped, clapped, kicked, swayed, and shook to the lively rhythms until guides and guests alike were worn out. We settled ourselves down on blankets around the fire, and the smell of sweet apples filled the air as the shisha pipes were fired up. A demonstration of the traditional "haka" from the New Zealanders launched a sort of nationalistic talent show, in which a song was demanded from the citizens of each country represented there on the beach. I led my countrymen in a rousing rendition of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," which might not be quite as cultural or historical as the hucker, but surely won a special part in the American tradition after its prominent appearance in Top Gun.
We slept on the deck of the felucca. When I awoke the next morning and rolled over on my stomach to peek over the side of the boat, I was greeted by the sun rising brilliantly over the water, lighting up the