When we arrived in Aswan, it was dinnertime and we were starving. We found a small restaurant and ordered. In honor of Eid el Adha (in which people customarily sacrifice a goat or sheep) our guide and I had tajeen with okra and very fresh lamb. Along with that we had bread, tahina, chickpea salad, and eggplant and sautéed hot peppers cooked in garlic, parsley and other spices.
Thoroughly satisfied, we made our way to the souk. There were abayas and galabias, shoes, toys, tourist kitsch, spices, hookahs, hats, scarves, bellydance outfits, t-shirts, electronics, and anything else you might want for sale. Merchants sat in chairs or on ledges at the front of their shops which were set up with tent-like structures that led into storefronts further back. Big sheets of fabric were strung up between posts to separate shop from shop and strings of lights crisscrossed overhead, creating a festive atmosphere. A few groups of observant Muslims walked and chanted in the streets in honor of Eid, while the crowds pushed on in both directions. In Aswan, much of the local industry centers around tourism, but now is the time between the intense tourist seasons which are already depleted in reaction to the revolution. We felt this clearly, being the only two foreigners walking in the Souk and therefore the focus of most of the merchant’s attention. They were very creative with their calls: “If you spent all your money I lend you some!” “Scarf good price!” “Blond hair!””No hussling!” “Let me help you spend your money!” “Don’t break my heart!” Someone started singing “It’s raining men” in the middle of the hubbub and I couldn’t help but grin.
As some of those who read this blog might have their future surprise ruined if I go on about what I bought/haggled for, here is a hint of the Happy Egypt gifts I picked up in Aswan.