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By Rosemary Mahoney

Whilst Rosemary Mahoney, in 1998, took a solo journey down the Nile in a seven-foot rowboat, she chanced on smooth Egypt for herself. As a rower, she confronted crocodiles and testy river currents; as a feminine, she faced deeply-held ideals approximately overseas ladies whereas carefully final open to actual friendship; and, as a tourist, she skilled occasions that ranged from the funny to the hair-raising--including an stumble upon that all started as probably the most scary of her existence and ended as an edifying and chastening lesson in human nature and cultural false impression. even if she's assembly Nubians and Egyptians, or discovering connections to Westerners who traveled up the Nile in past times--Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert between them--Mahoney's educated interest in regards to the global by no means ceases to captivate the reader.

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

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

"Mahoney, who has been rowing for 10 12 months, 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 ebook Review

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The goat reared up and clicked his heels, and the granite-spined girl glided on. A delight of kittens caked in dust got here skittering out from in the back of a wall, crossed our course, and disappeared. Like many of the cats in Egypt, they regarded as if that they had slid down a grimy chimney and hadn’t eaten in months. As we walked on i realized bloody dripping handprints at the doorways and fronts of outlets and homes. I had visible this similar factor somewhere else in Egypt — it usually seemed like the remnant of a few terrible bloodbath. It referred to as to brain Mansonesque symbols of evil and destruction. now not understanding what used to be dealing with Amr’s brain, what temper he was once in, I have been hesitant to talk. whereas it appeared it might be approximately most unlikely to assert whatever really beside the point to the opposite felucca captains in Aswan, with Amr I consistently feared being indelicate. yet my interest concerning the handprints crushed my apprehension. I needed to ask him approximately them. “It is khamsa,” he acknowledged. “For eyes. ” Trailing at the back of him with my head down, i attempted to make feel of that. Khamsa was once the Arabic note for “five. ” 5 hands, I intended. “But what does it suggest? ” Amr glanced over his shoulder at me. “Mean it retains away the opposite people’s jealous. once they construct possibly new apartment, they take the goat blood and positioned the hand at the apartment. For hold away evil eyes. ” I knew it used to be an Egyptian trust that different people’s envy may possibly deliver anyone down. Admiring one other person’s child was once thought of undesirable manners, for it represented a possibility and a foul omen, and a few Egyptians intentionally left their teenagers soiled for you to beat back the evil eye. the assumption should have been powerful the following, for each different constitution on Elephantine Island looked to be branded with a bloody handprint. Amr’s condominium used to be massive and painted a delightful ochre yellow. We went during the door right into a small darkish room the place an aged girl lay on a sofa, her face became towards a tiny black-and-white tv. at the tv, throngs of pilgrims wearing white have been circling the mastaba at Mecca, a scene that seemed with fabulous frequency on Egyptian tv. the lady glanced up vaguely as we got here in, gave us no greeting, and went again to observing the tv. She had the sagging reddish eyes of a hound, and one lengthy entrance teeth that jutted among her lips like a bit ivory latchkey. Amr muttered anything to her. She moaned in reaction, feebly lifted her hand into the air and dropped it back onto her thigh. Frailty and disappointment appeared to be maintaining the girl captive, and it made me uneasy to be status there her this fashion. It used to be as if we had walked in on her mendacity bare in a bath, even though she was once totally clothed within the method just a Muslim girl should be absolutely clothed — in wraps so thorough she regarded mummified. As he led me out of the room and during the kitchen, Amr stated, “That my mom. ” on the door of one other room he acknowledged shyly, “And this my sister,” pointing his thumb at a tender lady who was once sitting on a mattress gazing Egyptian cartoons on one other small tv.

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