After fully exploring the pyramids and taking in the Sphinx, I went local and boarded an overnight train for Aswan. Taking the local train in Egypt was truly an authentic experience. I shared my “room” with Jackie from New York. The room was just big enough to hold chairs that folded into a bunk-bed and that was pretty much it. The size wasn’t a huge issue; we were basically just going straight to sleep anyway. The issue was the noise and the bumpiness of the ride: screeching metal, rickety beyond belief, cupboard doors opening and slamming shut, etc. The ladder even fell over and crashed down on poor Jackie’s knee. We snacked on the animal crackers she brought in bulk for the trip instead.
In the morning, we pulled into Egypt’s ancient frontier town of the south, Aswan. I took in its laid-back African atmosphere and explored the colourful markets along the Nile. I rummaged through the Aswan souk that was full of fragrant spices, fabrics and souvenirs. I tried some delicious and refreshing hibiscus tea and snacked on tahini (sesame dip) and daoud basha (meatballs in tomato sauce).
Later on in the afternoon, I hopped on-board a white-sailed felucca and drifted along the Nile River. I felt relaxed while floating down the palm-lined Nile, sailing past timeless monuments, green fields and Arabian desert. I observed locals swimming, fishing, and going about their day as we sailed past. It was a truly memorable way to see this unique part of the world and the perfect way to relax.
In the evening, my Egypt travel buddies and I unwound with a drink at the boat’s bar. It was a belly dancing theme, so we all found some belly dancing attire out in the markets that Sherif called “jinglies.” I found a nice set of pink jinglies that I tied into a dress. On the dance floor, there was a mixture between authentic music and contemporary music. It was a ton of fun, and again because there was hardly anyone else present besides us. I think there was just one older couple who shimmied their way around us a few times.
I’m glad I was able to enjoy most of the dance, because at the end of the night I came down with the most dreadful food poisoning from the boat’s buffet either from that day or the day before. I slipped into the wretched routine that every traveler can relate to: bed, bathroom, shower, bed, and so forth. No one saw me in action for the next day.
What was I thinking, trying some of that chickpea lentil soup! Ohh, because it was delicious, that’s why.