Dancing with the Bedouins ;)

Trip Start Jan 22, 2010
Trip End May 29, 2010

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Flag of Egypt  , Al Jīzah,
Monday, March 22, 2010

     This past Thursday about nine of us in the program and two adults took a bus to the Bahariya oasis and the Black and White Desert. Bahariya oasis is about a six hour drive from Cairo and is the least technologically advanced of all the oases in Egypt (even less than Siwa)! The drive there was mostly through desert once again, with "rest stops" consisting of a small shack like building surrounded by desert that served tea and outhouses in the back with 'squatters' to use as a restroom. We stopped at a gas station outside of Cairo and stocked up on snacks and used a toilet for the last time before continuing the next five hours through deserted land. I still had to attend my two classes in the morning so we left Cairo aroun 12:30pm on Thursday. I slept a lot of the way, until we finally reached the town of Bawiti in Bahariya Oasis around 6:30pm, where we were going to be staying for the night. 
      We were shown our rooms at what was most definitely the 'nicest hotel' in the village. I stayed in a three person room with Rebecca and Haley- it consisted of two beds in a large room, then a small hall where the bathroom was, then another tiny room with another bed, which is where I slept. Thankfully there was a toilet, but the shower consisted of a hose, and a square area of tile. Yep, think I'll pass on the shower this weekend. 
    If I was freaked out by the room in Siwa, this one was definitely much worse (although I am thankful we had shelter and a bed....but still) I found two spiders on the wall next to my bed when we arrived, I made the boys kill them but let's be honest- I was not gonna be sleeping that night! We left the hotel and got into our two 4 x 4 cars and were driven by our bedouin friends to a place to eat in the village, called Resteraunt Rashed. It was....ummm, interesting. The two adults with us were Tamer (Matthew's assistant, he has lived in Egypt his whole life) and one of the male Arabic teachers named Samir. I kept looking at Tamer's face and he looked extremely sketched out by this resteraunt, which wasn't comforting at all! It looked like a plain cafeteria on the inside with plastic chairs and plastic tables with small groups of older Bedouin men smoking Sheesha. We sat down at a long table and they began to bring out the food for us (menus are a luxury not to be had here).
    First it was salad, which in Egypt, is mostly tomatoes, cucumber, a little bit of lettuce, and lemon juice...not bad. Then they brought out some kind of soup- I had no idea what it was but decided to taste it- it was ok, until I found out it was called bird tongue soup- I quickly moved on to the next food. They delivered little bowls of cooked potatoes and some veggies with a surprise mystery meat on the bottom, along with a plate of plain rice to go with it. Tamer tried to tell them two of us did not eat meat- so they brought us out our own potato dish which I'm pretty sure they just picked the meat out of. They finally brought out baskets of pita bread which made my night- the bread is fresh, home made, and soooo good. After dinner we went back to the hotel, with nothing much to do, until Tamer announced the Bedouins had invited us to their tent that night where they would be playing music, singing, and dancing. This sounded SO awesome. 
    We rested for an hour then went in our 4x4's to a large tented area on the edge of the village and stepped inside. It was lit up, surround by rugs and seat cushions- you had to take your shoes off before stepping on the rugs, but we made ourselves at home and tried to stay warm. I was wearing about three jackets (you would not believe how cold it gets in the desert at night!) and they brought little beds of coal to sit by us to keep us warm, along with the traditional cup of hot tea. At the front of the tent there were five men dressed in traditional bedouin style with their instruments consisting of drums and a type of flute. They began playing music and one man began to dance around the middle of the tent to a really specific style of dancing- it looked like belly dancing for men, except they used their butts a LOT! I loved it:) I couldn't help myself from bopping my head to the music while sitting on the cushions, until the dancing bedouin came over, saw me getting way into it, and grabbed my hand, pulling my to the middle of the floor with him. So there was me and the bedouin dancing together, and I tried my hardest to shake my butt like him and I like to think I wasn't bad ;) He was smiling up a storm, and I kept following his moves, until he we both turned our backs to our group sitting down and began to shake our butts in front of them- kind of scandalous for the bedouins I thought- but I LOVED IT!!!! I quite literally had the best time of my life dancing with the traditional bedouins and their music in the middle of the desert :) 
    I tried to get some of the other girls to come up and dance with me, and I eventually did. Rebecca and I were dancing with one another, smiling and laughing and I said, "omg what are we doing right now??" and she said "we're DANCING in AFRICA" so true, unbelievable, and amazing- I have never loved anything more than learning about and taking part in another culture, it fascinated me to no end. 
   Eventually, I sat back down, had some tea, and all of a sudden about 50 bedouin men walked into the tent and sat lined up on the side right across from us...awkward!! They of course stared at us to no end, and a couple even whipped their shiny cell phones out and took pictures of us- so funny to see a man dressed in a long robe with a turban wrapped around his head whip out his fancy camera phone. We're not sure why they were there, but one of the men across from us seemed to be extremely more jolly than any of the others. He. was. hillarious. He was a verrry large man, was smiling from ear to ear, and was the only one clapping along to the music. When the bedouin started dancing in the middle of the floor again, this jolly looking man got up and danced with him, butt shaking and all!! He then tied a scarf around his waist and continued to dance- it was pretty entertaining- even the rest of the stoic men were smiling and laughing. He then sat down and the bedouin came back over to us and tried to get me and the other girls to dance- but it was different this time since there were over 50 men watching us-and the only women were us five girls in the program. God only knows what those men were thinking- so most of the girls and guys adamantly sat and refused to get up and dance with him...except for me :) I can't help myself- I love music and I love dancing and I was having the time of my life dancing!
  So i got up and danced like crazy- with my bedouin partner cheering me on (I'm a natural butt shaker, what can I say) and yeah every single one of the men had their cell phones aimed at me, video taping, or taking pictures, but I didn't really care because I was having fun! So if I somehow end up on youtube dancing in a tent...this is why. It was a great end to the night, we left around 11, and I sadly waved goodbye to the cute musicians and my dance partners- what an awesome experience!!! 
    When we got back to the hotel, Rebecca, Haley and I were talking in the main room together (because I really didn't want to go to bed in my room) and then some of the guys and came in and we all just talked for a while, then headed to bed around 1:30am. Thankfully I brought an extra sheet which I laid on in the bed, but I was unable to sleep for most of the night, solely because of the silly spiders and the possibility of meeting the rest of their family. I think I fell asleep for about three hours- but once the sun came up I was a happy camper. My next challenge: sleeping in the desert!!! ;) more to come!
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Ashton on

Shake it, Ann! Please find those youtube videos! That sounds so great and ahh that comment about "we're dancing in Africa" is fantastic! Surreal I'm sure! You lucky girl :)

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