Okay, I promised tidbits about my recent four country trip. First stop: Egypt.
We (my sis and I, and our tour group of 84 others) started out in Cairo. On day one, eleven of us took a rollicking ride on the Nile River in a felucca, which is an Egyptian sail boat. We rocked and skimmed, and I clambered up to the front mast to get a better look at life along the Nile. Our guide Islam was nervous about this, and stayed close by my side until he could convince me to go back and sit down. But hey! I think we writers have the urge to do this often, to stand up and stretch, to look for the unexpected, even if we do rock the boat sometimes!
Our felucca made it safely back to shore, and we headed for lunch at a floating restaurant at the edge of the Nile. Delicious Egyptian food. I'm not sure what I ate, but it included a mix of meat (lamb?) and vegetables and spices mixed together in a delightful way.
Next stop: Khan al-Kalili, one of the biggest bazaars in the Middle East, and the oldest, dating back to 1382. As we wound our way through the maze of canvas-covered alleyways, we were plunged back into the time of Aladdin. Mysterious robed figures reache out to thrust scarves into our arms, and gold and brass and copper vases and statues glittered in the cave-like shops. At first I was intimidated with the shouting and the haggling, but our guide Islam stuck protectively beside us, and my sense of adventure kicked in quickly. By the time I emerged an hour later, my arms were filled with treasure. I smile, thinking yet again how much Khan al-Kalili is like the writing life--some days I have to coax myself to go into the winding, unpredictable alley-ways of my story--but if I venture in, I always discover treasure of one kind or another!