Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff

By Rosemary Mahoney

While Rosemary Mahoney, in 1998, took a solo journey down the Nile in a seven-foot rowboat, she came upon glossy Egypt for herself. As a rower, she confronted crocodiles and testy river currents; as a feminine, she faced deeply-held ideals approximately international girls whereas carefully closing open to real friendship; and, as a traveller, she skilled occasions that ranged from the funny to the hair-raising--including an stumble upon that started as some of the most scary of her lifestyles and ended as an edifying and chastening lesson in human nature and cultural false impression. no matter if she's assembly Nubians and Egyptians, or discovering connections to Westerners who traveled up the Nile in prior times--Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert between them--Mahoney's knowledgeable interest concerning the global by no means ceases to captivate the reader.

"A pilgrimage approximately pilgrims and holy areas that isn't simply enlightening but additionally very funny." -Paul Theroux (on The Singular Pilgrim)

"Mahoney is a superbly powerful catalytic agent: she is going to eire and simply makes the rustic take place round her." -Jonathan Raban (on Whoredom in Kimmage)

"Mahoney, who has been rowing for 10 yr, brilliantly juxtaposes an account of her personal palm-blistering hours at the Nile....with the diary entries of 2 Victorian travelers-Gustave Flaubert and Florence Nightingale."
--Lisa Fugard, New York instances publication Review

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The scent of cooking and coal smoke drifted via open doorways; dim yellow lighting fixtures shone in open home windows. canine barked within the distance. without notice Aswan felt like a small village. Safaa pointed to a row of darkish structures in a slender road and acknowledged, “I wish they rip these craps down! they're basically empty and unsafe! and youngsters wish to play in them and occasionally they get damage. Aswan is a crap. ” on the finish of the road a bunch of older Muslim ladies stared as we approached, and considered one of them requested Safaa why she was once jogging with a foreigner.

She used to be a mythological emissary from heaven, natural and incorruptible, ageless, parentless, and glowingly solid. Then I obtained a bit older and Florence Nightingale obtained genuine, transmogrifying right into a old determine; but nonetheless she was once selfless and holy and solid, and for this reason my cognizance tended to close down on the point out of her. I had the influence, based on priceless little, that Nightingale used to be unworldly and boring, circulating inside of her tiresome purview of bedsores, disinfectant, wound dressings, and germ conception.

Nile suggest smooth. ” “Fresh? ” “What it’s suggest ‘fresh’? ” I defined what freshwater used to be, and he repeated the be aware a couple of times. I requested him if he had ever been to the sea. He acknowledged, “One time I been in crimson Sea. i used to be very popular. I observed rather a lot water. i feel oh, strong, so immense, so great. i would like to clean. I bounce in with cleaning soap, and” — he made a full of life scrubbing movement, which in the other individual might were comical and exaggerated, yet which in Amr I knew was once a literal demonstration of his bathing method — “oh, negative.

I HAD COME to Egypt to take a row down the Nile. My plan, encouraged by means of a love of rowing, was once to shop for a small Egyptian rowboat and row myself alongside the 120-mile stretch of river among the towns of Aswan and Qena. This used to be a visit I’d been contemplating for greater than years, considering that my first stopover at to Egypt whilst I stuck a glimpse of the Nile in Cairo and learned in a second of deep disorientation that it flowed northward. At 4,163 miles from its southernmost resource — a spring in a tiny village in Burundi — to its debouchment within the Mediterranean Sea, the Nile was once the longest river on the planet.

Had I a ship of my very own with me, i'd have easily positioned it within the water and slipped away, taking my percentages as they got here. yet I had no boat, and that i knew that discovering one in Egypt could contain facing a succession of fellows who might ask yourself why a feminine foreigner sought after this kind of factor, could try out very difficult to dissuade me from my intentions, and might finally recommend that rather than rowing down the river I should still spend my time in Egypt dancing and eating with them. The Egyptian temperament — at all times gregarious, funny, and inviting — is usually spiked with a heavy dose of intrusiveness.

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