Over the Easter holidays, my mother came to visit. I was really happy to see her and looking forward to our planned holiday cruise on the Nile for the next five days. When she first arrived in Cairo, I took her to a silver shop where many of my colleagues and I usually go to get some presents for people. What a mistake! My mother is so difficult to please when it comes to jewellery, and she can be so tactless sometimes. Even though I’m not their best client, the salespeople know me and I was so ashamed of my mother’s comments, like “this is ugly”, “there’s not enough choice”, “they don’t have what I like”, etc. I was looking apologetically at the manager, who was smiling back and jokingly muttering “I don’t want to see her ever again”... Well I hope he was joking anyway. Oops.
On Friday morning, we flew to Aswan at 4am, as we had to catch a 10am bus to Abu Simbel, on Lake Nasser, which was the first site we were to visit. We were already quite shattered by the 1am waking up, but the 3 hour bus ride from Aswan to Abu Simbel just finished us off. Abu Simbel is really impressive, and we were really lucky, as there were very few tourists around.
In the evening, we went to Aswan’s bazaar for a bit of shopping and everyone there thought I was my mum’s gigolo. It was so funny, they kept on telling my mum: “Well done, you found yourself a nice young lad!” I was actually quite flattered to see people assumed I was some kind of expensive whore, but my mum got really offended and kept on telling them: “No, no, he’s my son!” And the vendors would reply with a grin: “yes, of course he is!” A bit later in the evening, my mum actually made a blunder when we visited a jewellery shop: many people were in there laughing and we soon realised two Arab families were marrying their son and daughter and were there to choose the rings for them. The mother of the groom turned to my mum and, pointing at the two youngsters, proudly said: “My son is getting married to this beautiful girl!” I don’t know what came to my mother, but she looked at the couple to be and suddenly shouted in the whole shop: “Kiss!... Kiss!...” At this point, I could see all the faces turning to us in shock, I was so ashamed. In a country where women wear headscarves and couples barely hold hands in the street, asking two people to kiss in public is like asking someone to run naked in a supermarket! Well done, mum! No need to say we left the shop straight away, fearing we might get lynched by hysteric grannies!
The next day, we started our Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor. I guess anyone who’s ever done a Nile cruise has seen exactly the same sites we visited: Aswan, Philae, Kom Ombo and Edfu temples, the Valley of the Queens, the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Hatchepsut, Karnak, Luxor... The nice thing though was that there were very few tourists around – we’ve got the Egyptian Revolution to thank for it – and it was lovely to visit empty sites, it felt like private tours.
When we came back to Cairo, my mother wanted to see the main touristic places in Cairo, so we went to the Pyramids of Giza, the National Museum and the Souk... places I have already been to so many times since September, but hey, what wouldn’t you do for your mum, right?