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Up the Nile

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

After writing the last blog entry, Tyson and I decided to take a look around the local area. As our hotel was near the Nile River, we decided to head in that direction. After crossing several lanes of ferocious traffic, we made it to the river’s edge (actually more of a small channel separated from the main river by an island). There were many people out strolling about in all manners of dress from full burkas and the full length cotton dress worn by the men to people in western clothing. We walked down to one bridge and walked back along the other side of the river until we could cross again on the bridge. We were officially in downtown. Like most developing cities though, it’s hard to actually pinpoint a downtown as big buildings sprout randomly in all directions instead of in one central location. There were several mosques brightly lit up for the night.  After ending the walk, we stopped in a sandwich shop and ate chicken schwarma wrapped in flat unleavened bread. We also got sucked back into the shop that I had been in earlier when I went to the ATM. The worker persuaded us to hire a car and driver from him to take us to some outlying pyramids the next day. It seemed like a good price so we agreed and then returned to the hotel. As I was walking up the stairs, one of the hotel staff confronted me speaking in Arabic to which I responded in English. He apologized and went away. I think he thought I was Egyptian and was asking if I belonged in the hotel. Unlike India where I could barely pass as Indian, here unless I open my mouth or have my camera, 3/4 ths of the people think I am Egyptian. The majority of the population has my skin tone which is now, I believe at maximum, tanless. Pale eyes are not uncommon. Earlier, I had been in the elevator with two burka clad ladies who kept repeating something in Arabic. I didn’t realize they were talking to me until one of them said five in English indicating they wanted me to push the button for the fifth floor.  At least this means that when I am not in my full tourist regalia I can walk down the streets fairly unaccosted. [read on]