TRAVEL THERE: A MIDNIGHT TRIP TO THE LOCAL SOUK
Bokra is a word you hear frequently in Egypt. It means tomorrow, but just like the Spanish word for tomorrow, manana, it also means ‘maybe tomorrow or maybe never.’ Since I’d been in Sharm I’d been promised a trip to the souk to do a little shopping and this was to be our last night in town. As the clock ticked towards midnight, my anxiety grew, but I should have realized there was no need for worry.
Mirette made good on her promise. It was well after 10 PM, but this was Egypt, so everything was still going strong. Maggie came along, because she still had some shopping to do, too. The sisters headed off in one direction and I headed in another with Bill. Now that my mom is gone, souvenir buying is not as urgent, but I do like to pick up something for my bestie.
We wandered the shops but I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. I like pharaonic jewelry, but it’s no longer fashionable in Egypt. Most of the jewelry looked like pieces I could buy anywhere, lovely, but they didn’t seem representative to me. Then there would be the pharaonic section, with huge scarabs or an elaborately decorated eye, but that wasn’t what I was looking for either. I wanted something that would be worn frequently with pride, but I also wanted it to have an Egyptian flavor.
At one of the few shops which was closed, I found a lovely piece in the window that was just what I wanted. The shop was locked up tighter than a drum. Some shops were sitting wide open with no one inside, but if you entered a nearby vendor would come to help you. I looked around helplessly and complained about the shop being closed a little louder than I normally would, but I was hoping someone would hear me, and then come over to offer their services.
Mirette showed up just about then to see how we were doing and I pointed out the necklace. Darling Mirette disappeared for a moment or two and before I knew it, there was the shop’s proprietor, opening his shop and apologizing for his absence. I’m not sure what it took to get the man back to the shop. Perhaps Mirette was a friend or the shopkeeper understood her husband Ayman’s influence. Whatever it was, we were very grateful, because nothing else in the bazaar was anywhere as lovely as the necklace in the window.
Come to find out the beautiful hand-made piece was beyond reasonable. I’d picked out the necklace for my bestie, but wished for one for myself. However, the proprietor was also the craftsman and he had only made one. I can understand why, because the necklace consisted of many tiny talismans and intricate beadwork, which is why I couldn’t believe the price. It was truly a unique piece. I satisfied myself with a lovely lapis lazuli lotus pendant. Bill pointed out that I could have taken the elaborate necklace for myself and given Deb the lotus, but then that wouldn’t have been quite fair now, would it.
Maggie too, had found just what we needed and we headed back to Mirette’s house. The young ones had been put to bed long ago by their grandparents and a group of neighbors had joined the family, sharing sheesha and laughing at one another’s stories. Soon the shoppers were gathered around, relighting the hookah pipes and telling their own stories – in Arabic.
I hate being the party pooper, but it was far beyond my bed time and all the chatter in an unfamiliar language only made it worse. We were traveling in the morning. I had my bags ready, but I needed to sleep. Mirette carried us back to the hotel and another day in Egypt ended.