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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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Egypt Wrap Up....

The Wrap Up

I like the Nile River. It is a beautiful and scenic river and as blue as the ocean. Rural women wash clothes on the riverbank, children paddle in rowboats in the river, and cattle drink from it. The river is the source of all water and all life in Egypt and the people, the culture, and the Nile all interact with each other.
Many of the restaurants where we eat are close to the water and have beautiful settings. The local eateries serve traditional Egyptian food, which is plentiful and good, even if we don't know what we are eating. Food seems to be pretty typical everywhere -- grilled chicken. Pita bread is served before the meal with a variety of dips, usually a spicy relish dip that is traditional and a creamy one something like ranch dressing. There is always eggplant chopped up in a tomato sauce. I am never quite sure what to do with it. Side dishes are steamed vegetables and rice is ever present.
Egyptians eat far less meat than Americans. We do not see any beef at all other than meatballs a time or two. They like rich desserts and dessert often consists of a traditional square cookie with something like toasted coconut on it and another square cookie that is extremely sweet and gooey. I should know what these are called, but I don't. 
It is the custom to serve guests tea, but not tea as we know it. Tea there is called hibiscus tea and is red. Whenever we go to a new home, regardless of how poor, we are given a small cup of hibiscus tea. Coffee is very strong and they also like Turkish coffee, which is extremely strong, like espresso, and has grounds in the bottom of the cup.
Bottled water, called mineral water, is served at restaurants instead of other beverages. There is no ice served in anything as the ice is not safe unless specially made from mineral water. On the rare occasion when ice is served, there are only a few cubes floating in the glass. 
Diet Coke is available and is called Cola Light. It cost me about 40 LE ($8) for a can at a restaurant -- another good reason to drink mineral water. Egyptian beer is a brand called Stella, very light and highly carbonated. It is mostly consumed by foreigners since Muslims do not drink alcoholic beverages. 
Egyptians bargain for everything they buy, from clothes to rugs to food. Nothing ever has a price tag so you must ask. When they find out you are interested in an item, they ask a price much higher than the item is worth. You then offer half as much and quibble to reach a selling price. If you are satisfied with what you finally pay, it is considered a fair price.
Egyptian shops seldom have change, so you need to have the right amount in cash to pay. While better shops claim to take credit cards, they usually end up asking, "You have cash?" If the bills you have are too large, they want you to buy something else to make up the difference.  
Street vendors and bazaar vendors try to sell scarves by waving them in front of you as you walk. They first ask a high price. For example, I bought one that started at 80 LE and as I walked away the vendor chased me and the price became lower and lower. When it got to 40 LE, I stopped walking. After they sell you an item, they sometimes ask for a tip of a few pounds. Apparently, the merchandise belongs to a shop owner and they are only selling it. Tips are a big part of life and everyone is tipped from restroom attendants to bus drivers. 
While we were on the riverboat, we went through locks at the Aswan dam and sales vendors tried to sell scarves by throwing them on the boat from the walls of the locks. We would ask the price and if it could not be bartered low enough, we would throw the scarf back.
Egyptian money was not too difficult as one side of the bill was in Arabic and one side in English. The bills came in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 LE (pounds). Five Egyptian pounds was roughly equivalent to $1 American. I could figure out the amount to pay, but I had to think in American dollars and then translate it in my head. Small change was in coins worth about 20 cents, good for small tips.
And this is the end of my stories about Egypt. I learned a lot about the country that I didn't know before and discovered the truth about many myths. Their history is part of the history of mankind and the roots of our existence. It is still astonishing that such a sophisticated civilization could have existed almost 5000 BC. I'm glad that I went to see and it is my sincere hope that by telling about my observations, we can come to understand each other better as nations and as people.  


Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss

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