Chapter 2 – Siesta
Of course, every good monster movie deserves a good monster and if you’re sailing down the Nile then mummified crocodiles are definitely the only way to go. The Egyptians didn’t just mummify their dead, they also mummified numerous animals, placing them in tombs as pets to join their owners in the afterlife or as offerings to the various gods (including the crocodile god Sobek). There would, of course, have to be a scene in my mummy croc movie with some baby mummified crocodiles, where fifteen or twenty of the little mummy fuckers savages one of our unsuspecting traveling party…
Two fellucas slip in unison past us on the Nile.
Our unsuspecting traveling party are currently in a post lunch siesta malaise. I’m sipping away on a nice cold beer, dropping my feet out over the left hand side and, on each consecutive tacking (is that how you say it, tacking?) letting them skim and streak on the cool Nile water. I’m wearing my sunglasses on the tee tee as,like, an ironical statement of me, like, relaxing. Toshi, our crazy/happy sometimes/often drunk Japanese companion is asleep in a heap after somehow, unbeknownst to the most of us, secretly downing a whole bottle of wine during lunch. Alan and Janice:
– He drank a bottle of wine?
– I mean, I think he drank a bottle of wine.
– A whole bottle of wine?!
– Well, he was drinking out of that bottle.
– It’s definitely empty now, I’ve checked. Are you sure it was a whole bottle of wine?
– Well, yeah, he had a full bottle of wine with him when we took off this morning.
– Well, it’s empty now!
– I guess he drank a whole bottle of wine, then.
– Sneaky little shit.
“Fucking hell,” I think to myself, returning to my waterside ponderings “It’s been a little over a week since we first set sail on this little adventure, but Cario seems like another world now.” Que flashback.
Cairo is like another world. A fucking shithole, that is. I have been warned before I went on my travels that Cairo is a bit of a shithole but you have to experience it first hand before you can fully depreciate it. So much of a shithole is Cairo, in fact, that I’m more than chuffed when I find the only bin in the entire pyramid/sphinx compound (and, ironically, the only place that isn’t completely and utterly littered in the compound) But despite it’s beauty being marred at times by its scruffy demeanor there is no denying the impact of the pyramids when we first pull up that morning.
As you approach the hill above Egypt, beyond where the Nile’s old floodplains once lay and overlooking the sprawl and city, you can’t but think in awe at what the reaction must have been to see the pyramids in their heyday, smooth and whitewashed and glinting in the unending sun. Despite what many say the pyramids were not built by slave labor but by the people who lived in the farmland of the Nile valley below, during the rainy season when the plains were flooded the king gave them the honor of building his tomb. And in return, as a thank you, he allowed them to build their own tombs nearby. Unlike many modern religions the old Egyptians lived modestly in life but used all their wealth to prepare for the afterlife so it was quite an honor to be buried near the king and it meant that you joined him and all his otherworldly possessions on their journey to their opulent afterlife.
Toshi adjusts himself comfortably on the cushioned floor of the felucca, like a cat on fireside rug.
It was half way through our Egypt trip before we realized how much of a hilariously awesome alco Toshi was. Up until then we just had all put it down to him being a crazy fucking Jap bastard but after discovering how much he was sneakily putting away we couldn’t be sure how much of Toshi’s character was his crazy self and how much of it was the drink talking. One rarely, if ever, saw the kid drinking any of the awful Egyptian wines that he constantly had hidden in his various bags (Egypt, being a majoritively strictly Muslim nation, is not known for its wine – and for good fucking reason, too!!!) but, if you paid attention, you could very clearly see that the watermarks were most definitely rescinding.
– Toshi, have you drunk all that wine today?
A look of confusion.
– Is that a fucking bottle of wine?
– Oh, yes, bottow.
– No. Of alcohol, is that a bottle of al-co-hol?
– Al? co?
We do the hand motions.
– Are you drinking alcohol during the day?
At this point Toshi would usually give an innocent schoolgirl giggle as if he had been caught passing love notes around a classroom and slink off somewhere (one would assume to have another drink.)
Don’t get me wrong, the guy was universally loved by everyone in the group and became an adopted son to one and all (granted, an adopted son who rarely knew the full extent of anything that was going on, but an adopted son none the less.). Although Ahmed, our tour guide, a teetotal muslim Egyptian, didn’t necessarily appreciate it that time that Toshi got caught brining a half drunk bottle of wine into the Egyptian History Museum and Ahmed ended up having to run across the Egyptian Museums car park at mid day with a half drunk bottle of red wine in front of a horde of his fellow muslims giving him the stink eye and him going “it’s not mine, I swear, it belongs to one of my tour. I am a devout muslim, I swear!”
The sun slips up from behind the massive stone structure, the heat of the Egyptian winters day just beginning to sink in. Ahmed gathers us, somewhere a little aways from the steady stream of early morning tourists, to reiterate the point that nothing in here is for free, not to take the reigns of a camel from anyone, even the local camel-riding “policemen”, not to get drawn into a conversation; they only want your money. This is an on-running theme of the entire trip.
Our group is young and just finding it’s feet, everyone getting to grips with each other. We are still a little cliquey, still syphoning off into groups and not the well oiled whole that we will be within a couple of days.
I wear my photo-camera tee, y’know, as an ironical statement of the fact that I’m, like, a tourist, like.
And the tourists flood the place like bugs to a river on a warm summers evening. You can’t but think that many must be lost every day in the clamor to get a view of the sphinx or climb on the right rock to be pictured in front of pyramid a, b or c or get a ride on the “Oh LOOK, HAROLD – A CAMEL!!!” Right now, by the sphinx, an overtly brown middle aged British woman is barking orders at her peabrained skinny moustachiod blunderous husband who is trying to figure out how to press the button on the camera that takes the fucking photo.
– To the left, Johnathan. To the LEFT!
She squats like she’s about to shit.
– NOT THAT LEFT! The other left, Johnathan, the other left! Oh for Christs sakes Johnathan!!!
Meanwhile swarms of similar couples, groups and various buzz in and out and around in a naive purchasing frenzy.
I swat away a riverfly that is buzzing around my face. The water slips against my feet as the boat tacks to the left again. Out far, in the distance and beyond the bridge, two fellucas slip in unison further down the Nile and away.
Other Egyptian adventures include: