July 28, 2008

egypt #1

Some photos I would have taken, but couldn't:

At Wadi Rum, a man in a white robe and a red keffiyah leads 8 camels, all saddled, on a string of leads through red sand desert in the slanting evening sunlight.


At Petra, a Bedouin family packs up for the evening. An old woman and a young woman are putting away the trinkets they've been selling; a young man and two little boys have brought up the donkeys they rent to tourists; a toddler sits beside the path.


The minibus from Taba - loosely packed with me, an 18-year-old Austrian, one world-weary 20-something each from Moldova and Ukraine, two quiet Jordanian men, and a security guard in a purple tie and mirrored sunglasses - careens down the middle, the actual center, of the Sinai desert road.


The Austrian, the Moldovan, and the Ukrainian haggle the poor bus driver into accepting shekels, dollars, and euros rather than the previously agreed on 100 Egyptian pounds. People! There is an ATM in the Egyptian arrivals hall, and the charmingly named Israeli 'Change Place' will change your money as well. Use these services!


One of the quiet Jordanians makes sure the minibus stops where I can get a taxi to where I'm staying and offers to let me use his phone to call the person I'm staying with.


A houseboat on the Nile at dusk, ashtray upon ashtray on the table. A guitar. Radiohead on the speakers. Just like you'd think it would be.


Sunlight through the high windows at the Egyptian Museum. Most of the display cards look like they were made on a typewriter in the card catalog era by someone who spoke good English but was only a fair typist. A few of the cases have cards written on lined notebook paper in ballpoint pen - these are only in Arabic.

(slideshow over)

I haven't spoken to anyone all day, except for some stilted efforts at telling a taxi driver where to go. Traveling alone is weird. Also, as a solo woman in a place with a lot of harassment, I'm not willing to talk to men at all unless I start the interaction (i.e. I hail a taxi). Mostly, this has been very very easy to enforce. It also means I'm not willing to sit and have tea when it's offered, even though that kind of hospitality is something for which the Arab world is (justly, as far as I can tell) famous.

I'm glad to be adventuring, but I still kind of want to go home.

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