Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CLXXXII. A Return Visit (11 of 15)

A cruise down the Nile

To visit the treasures left to us by the New Kingdom (1540- 1069 BC) when Pharaonic Egypt was at its apogee, my travel agency arranged for a cruise down the Nile. The cruise was going to cover the important sights only; seeing most of the riches left by these Pharaonic Dynasties would be impossible unless you have all the time and money in the world.

A visit to Egypt is a matter of compromise; you have two distinct historical periods (Pharaonic and Islamic) and 4,000 years of history. Whatever you decide, you’ll be left with some regrets. Of course, not going at all once you know enough about this fabulous country is not an option.

The cruise proposed by my travel agency proved to be an acceptable compromise.

The cruise ship was small, after all, it was going to navigate on the Nile. The number of passengers on the ship were at most 100. All of the passengers – except for me – where part of organized tours.  There were English, French, German, and Italian groups. (As far as I remember these were the languages spoken by the tourists on the ship).  The actual guides that showed us the various sites were Egyptian guides that spoke the language of the applicable group.

I was unaware that I would be an “orphan” on this cruise, a lone individual that did not belong to any clan! Ultimately, this situation caused very little problems.

I flew from Cairo to Luxor to join my cruise. The first surprise on the ship was my room: It was huge and had wide windows; it included two big beds, two night tables, a desk and chair, a dresser, and, of course, a private bathroom. On a regular cruise this would be considered as a stateroom with a price to match.

There was only one dining room that served two meals: breakfast and supper. But these were substantial meals, and at supper, many courses were included. Wine was served with the meals, but this was a separate charge. There were also bars; coffee and pastry counters; and snack bars that served food. You run a tab under your room number and settled before you left. (In that respect, it was similar to an ocean cruise).

Now to my lonely status. I was seated at a separate table since I wasn’t part of an organized tour. That is poor planning I thought to myself. How difficult would it have been to integrate me into an English- or French-speaking crowd? (On tours, however, I was part of an English-speaking group). On the first night, after less than an hour, I realized that it didn’t matter.

After enough wine was served and consumed, the groups merged: they sang, flirted, joked, and talked to each other; languages barriers fell, for after a few libations, clear communication lost all importance!

When they discovered that I was Egyptian and talked Arabic, they quickly adopted me. I knew about the food served (and offered many tips), about the customs, and what was said by the dining room staff when they talked with each other. Put in a different way, “I was in the secrets of the gods.”

When they approached me, I talked in their language; the exception was for the German-speaking tourists, but even they managed to communicate with me and benefit from my tips.

Despite all these activities, I managed at night to find quiet moments. I stretched on a lounge chair, and looked at the clear sky of Upper Egypt; what a difference with Cairo which was so polluted. I saw the ship forging ahead and plowing the water of the majestic Nile; the very Nile which has nourished me for the first 20 years of my life; my first love, as strong as first loves are wont to be.

Peace and quiet was at times disturbed by a tourist(s) which offered to share a beer or a glass of wine with me. Beer and wine were turned down, but lemonade or orange juice proved to be perfect substitutes. One night two sexy young girls joined me. They were German; but very quickly, a Southern Egypt night worked its magic; language barrier and the years that separated us melted away.

These are the memories we get out of a voyage, really the very reasons we go through the trouble and expense of travelling.

Like any cruise ship, our ship made a number of stops. Mostly to visit specific sites, but at times the stop was just to wander or shop on our own.

The places of interest were mostly within walking distance, but at times, a bus was needed to take us there. On one of these buses an amusing incident happened.

At one of our stops, a local lady in a galabiyah was making all kinds of signs to me. The lady that was seated on the bus next to me told me that this woman was interested in me! I got out of the bus, and talked to her in Arabic. Yes, I have been well informed. A man next to her told me in a discreet way that she was in effect making a marriage proposal, and that it was now up to me to make a counter-offer! I advised the interested party that I was already married, she pointed at my ring finger and asked where my ring was? “I left it on the ship, I didn’t want to lose it.” And the matter ended there.

Imagine, I could have lived peacefully in Upper Egypt for the rest of my days! Did I make the right decision?

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