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 stumbled 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 girls whereas carefully last open to actual friendship; and, as a vacationer, she skilled occasions that ranged from the funny to the hair-raising--including an come upon that begun 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 locations that isn't in basic terms enlightening but additionally very funny." -Paul Theroux (on The Singular Pilgrim)

"Mahoney is a superbly potent catalytic agent: she is going to eire and simply makes the rustic occur 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 occasions e-book Review

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It was once breathtaking, just like the sensation of leaping bare into ice-cold water. At o’clock i ended, reluctantly, and waited for Amr. while the felucca eventually lumbered up, drifting at the present, its slack sail unfortunately putting like a bedsheet on a clothesline, Amr greeted me with a mixture of anxiousness, aid, and leisure. He stood at the deck and appeared me up and down, searchingly, as though checking to ensure I had incurred no wounds or bruises or psychic trauma. “You has any difficulties, Rose? ” he stated, lifting me out of the rowboat and onto the felucca through the hand. I instructed him I had had no difficulties what-ever, that to date the rowing were effortless, and we laughed approximately how slowly the felucca moved on a windless day. After anchoring the boat, Amr and Madeleine swam off of its stern. Madeleine, a professor on the American college in Cairo, used to be courageous; warnings of snail-borne schistosomiasis and different dreaded Nile ailments fearful her no longer a section. She have been in Egypt for 3 years, lengthy sufficient to visualize that she had constructed Egyptian immunities, and mind's eye on my own looked as if it would were enough to maintain her loose from unique illnesses in the course of her years the following. I had recognized Madeleine for almost fifteen years. I renowned her for myriad purposes, now not least of which used to be that she was once adventurous and fearless. She had received a vehicle in Egypt and concept not anything of riding it around the Libyan wasteland all of the strategy to the Siwa Oasis, or around the Sinai Peninsula, or, might be most deadly of all, throughout the demented, traffic-crazed streets of her personal local in Cairo. I watched with fascination and dread and a little of envy as Madeleine and Amr splashed round the boat. Like such a lot Egyptians, Amr swam in a busy, slapping manner, no longer fussily cupping his palms the best way Madeleine did, yet kicking and thrashing, as though sheer movement could hold him afloat. i used to be reminded of Florence Nightingale’s description of the Nubian swimmer: “They don't swim as we do, yet with their shoulders and palms out of the water, beating the water with their fingers. ” Amr cooked eggs and potatoes on a kerosene range within the good of the boat, and we huddled within the coloration of a canvas awning strung up over the deck and silently ate our lunch from tin plates. At this hour of the day, the warmth was once so severe it looked as if it would cease time. the tasteless yellow sky used to be like a smothering masks descending over the face of the desolate tract. the large leaves of the banana timber glared and dangled. The long-legged birds cooled their shins within the colour. The banks of the river had develop into rotisseries of broiling vines and plants. Even the water, reflecting the solar, regarded scorching. once i stopped my lunch, I climbed again into the rowboat and headed down the river. Amr had deliberate for us to spend the evening at Barlooly Island, simply north of Kom Ombo, and we agreed to satisfy there at round six o’clock. i attempted to guarantee Amr that if he overpassed me briefly, he shouldn’t fear; i might by no means be a long way prior to him. He smiled in resignation, wanted me good fortune, and commenced accumulating up the lunch plates.

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