Because the world is small I ended up renting a room on a houseboat on the Nile under the apartment of a man who used to live a mile away from me in Brooklyn. The houseboat is not actually a boat but really just a house that happens to be floating on the Nile. It happens! So the house-floating-on-the-Nile (HFOTN) is split into four apartments. I share the bottom left one with a French nursery school teacher and her dog (breed unidentifiable), a living situation not dissimilar to that of the summer of 2007, when I lived with a French antiques dealer, her poodle and the ghost of her dead husband.
A note about the Nile. I was forewarned by many that it would smell. It’s really not that bad, though. If I close my eyes and clench my fists the scent can be reminiscent of Cape Cod. It is difficult, however, to describe the river’s color. Brown comes to mind, but that really doesn’t do it justice. Maybe it’s burnished khaki. Muddled sepia. Acidic butterscotch? Ok, it’s brown.
When boats pass by the HFOTN, it gently rocks back and forth and puts me to sleep/makes me fall over. Everything on the HFOTN slants slightly to the west (towards Libya!). (The Nile is a great directional tool. You see how the Egyptians got a head start in the world). And yes, there is running water and plumbing. Somehow. Gods, I think.
Houseboat dwellers are a tightly knit clique and they are some of the only ones in Cairo who have the unique luxury of a yard. Our yard looks like Puerto Rico. But it’s Egypt. It’s pretty awesome. I will never think of aquatic life the same way again.