Aswan, a city in the south of Egypt along the River Nile has a mixed and diverse population with a distinct Nubian culture. This city also has an African atmosphere which is very different from the rest of Egypt and therefore, sitting and vegetating when you are here is surely unacceptable.
It is Friday, the destination is Gharb Sohail, a Nubian village along the Nile River.
1. YALLA BINA! 4:30 P.M
Four hours past midday. The sun in Aswan can get unbearably hot. Waiting for the sun to go down is a good option. You take a boat from Aswan to the Nubian Village, Gharb Sohail that sits on a sandy hilltop. The village is a colourful haven of houses painted in an array of good colours; blue, yellow, red, green and more blue. Yes, these are good colours!
2. SAILING ON, 4:40 P.M
The captain sails his felucca off the shore. You enjoy twenty minutes of amazing views while on the felucca.
The calm waters of River Nile sets up a good mood to engage the captain.
He is 28. He is Nubian. In Egypt, you are either Ahmed or Mohammed. He is Mohammed.
The captain docks the felucca safely and helps you get out of it.
3. PICTURESQUE STREET VIEWS, 4:50 P.M
Plunge in. You notice the colours immediately you step on the ground, from the flight of stairs that leads you from the docking area to the entrance of the village.
Everywhere is rich in colour. Streets with rich, vibrant colours always have their appeal. They are magic. You cannot walk in such streets full of colours and be angry at the same time.
The streets are very picturesque. They are worth visiting.
4. LIFE FOR THE AVERAGE NUBIAN, 5:10 P.M
The pace of life is slow. Life for the average Nubian relies on the tourist; you who chooses to vegetate, you who chooses to accept the picture painted on Egypt by The Media, that Egypt is unsafe and is not habitable and you who has decided that Egypt is not worth visiting anymore. The life of the average Nubian depends on you.
Their economy fully depends on the tourist season. Accessories, perfumes, clothes and baskets fill the streets. There are plenty of rows of colourful spices as well. The Nubians hustle from anyone who looks foreign. From traders showcasing their products to owners of camels convincing you to take a tour of the village on a camel, desperation is evident.
5. INSIDE THE HOUSE, 5:15 P.M
The floor is covered with flattened sand. This is mostly at the entrances. You will come to realise that it is a tradition dating back to the ancient. With sand at the entrance, then they can know whether any intruder has entered the house.
The Nubians are warm. They are always willing to open their doors to anyone. There are really good people still living.
Some locals have converted their houses into guest houses. You can spend a couple of nights here if you wish. You will truly taste the Nubian culture and understand it all by living with them. Staying overnight in their houses is always a good idea. It will be a memorable experience! However, crocodiles are domesticated and are a feature of village life. You may want to change your mind.
6. KARKADE, 5:22 P.M
They will invite you for a meal. Wash your hands and get ready to savour great tastes from the Nubian world.
The Nubians are always experts in pairing nature with taste. The meal is Nubian bread; fresh, round and thick. Wash this down with Karkade, juice made from hibiscus flowers.
7. HENNA, 5:32 P.M
Many would happily show you their handicrafts or choose to apply henna on your skin.
8. PORTRAITURE WITH THE NUBIANS, 5:45 P.M
9.ON THE ROOFS, 5:50 P.M
Viewing things from the top is always a good way to observe stuff. You get to see a different perspective. Just as you get the best views from the highest point of a mountain, views from the roofs also allow for some of the greatest views.
10. GOODBYE GHARB SOHAIL! 6:30 P.M
After such great hospitality from the Nubians , a reciprocal gesture of generosity is not necessary but will certainly be appreciated. The contagious dancing of children, the jovial sounds of them playing on your way out of the village and the light from the setting sun in the horizon will wrap up your few minutes of immersion into the Nubian world.
That is 120 minutes in a Nubian village!