Tuesday night reminded my why, despite all the horrors Horus (or Allah) throws my way (and He has chucked several to us AUC-ians in the weeks since my return from Vienna), his gift of the Nile is so very precious in so many ways. Actually, for what has been the most historic river in the history of humankind, sustaining nearly 5000 years of civilization, the Nile may seem anticlimactic at first glance. It’s neither the widest river I’ve ever seen nor the swiftest, and yet there is truly something magical about it.

We’ve been suffering a massive heat wave since last week. Not unusual for Egypt in the early weeks of September I suppose, but very unwelcome for all that. It has been hot and dusty and with no reprieve even in the mornings and evenings, rendering my back porch unusable and resulting in the overuse of the air conditioners. (In fact that heat wave only broke yesterday for the first time). Soon after my return, Elissa and I had taken a felluca ride which was great as usual, but Tuesday night we (joined by Peter this time around) did one better, thanks to Elissa’s flash of inspiration. We decided to take our dinner and eat it aboard the little boat. Armed with a bags of mezzes and drinks picked up  from Tabula, we walked over the to docks, our tongues hanging out in doggy fashion from heat and thirst that even this short walk had induced.

Even as we descended the steps to the landing where the boats are moored we could feel the air get cooler. I swear it felt as though there was a 10-degree difference in the temperatures between the street and the middle of the river.The boat set sail, the city noises receded and voila! we were in heaven. We invited our kindly captain to join us, but he refused even a taste, no doubt replete from his iftaar, but the three of us were reasonably hungry and made short work of the food. Then came the really good part, as we  assumed various reclining positions on the cushioned seats of the boat, and slipped into different degrees of food coma, rocked there gently by that kindliest of all Umm’s (mothers), the river Nile. It was a gorgeous full moon night, and the sky was reasonably clear and I indulged in some sleepy stargazing, pointing out Venus to the others, before drifting off to a snooze. Sitting there, it’s easy to forget, at least for a while, the heat and bother and clutter and chaos and the miseries of commuting (another tale, another post) – namely, all the pesky details of daily life, and simply just be.

The fellucca has secured a permanent place in my top three list of favorite things about the Cairene lifestyle, the easy availability of fabulous mangoes during season – I buy a couple almost everyday from different fruit seller – holding the other undisputed spot, while the third spot (like the triplet codons in our DNA) is the changeable wobble position through which any of several things might temporarily take residence: my new apartment on some occasions, the Tut room at the Egyptian museum, Koshari, fresh squeezed fruit juices – notably mangoes or pomegranate, the glass shops with their wares glittering with all shades of the specturm, the grand door at Abu-El-Sid… and the list goes on. But felluccas and mangoes, respectively  representing the new and the familiar in my range of experiences, have no rivals. Next time I should try taking and eating mangoes aboard a felluca – not only is that a match made in heaven, it would be the most heavenly match.

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