May 2, 2012

What to wear in Egyptian Tourism ?

What to Wear, 1819
John Fuller


The stock of clothes which I had brought with me from Europe being nearly exhausted, I assumed today the Oriental dress, which I continued to wear all the time I remained in the Levant. I do not, however, in general recommend its adoption, except in those places where the prejudices of the people render it necessary: for although the superior dignity and grace which it gives to the figure may flatter the personal vanity of the wearer, its cumbrousness will constantly check his activity, and multiply the temptations to indolence which in a hot country are always sufficiently abundant.

There is one circumstance, however, which may recommend it to some travellers: the change of appearance effected by the resumption of the Frank [foreign] costume is so complete, that it will enable them, on their return to Europe, safely to avoid noticing those persons with whom in the East they may have been connected by the ties of familiarity or obligation, but whom it may not be agreeable to recognise in more polite countries.

Travelers moved up river from Alexandria to observe the rest of Egypt though often returning once more to embark from Alexandria for home..

On Our Way, 1840 Sarah Haight
When about to set out from our hotel in Alexandria, we had our first initiative in the mode of transporting travelling effects in the East. We sent to engage a platoon of porters to carry our immense materiel to the canal; but instead of the troop of noisy Arabs who seized upon it when we first landed at the custom-house quay, and brought up each heavy load one mile for ten paras, two huge camels came stalking into the courtyard. Now I had seen at Smyrna the compact bales of merchandise nicely balanced one on each side of the camel, but it puzzled my ingenuity to conceive how they could dispose, on the round backs of these two animals, such a medley of discordant articles as our travelling equipage is composed of. Round, square or triangular, short or long, straight or crooked, slippery or rough, was the separate quality of each individual article. On a May-morning in Gotham, no little skill is displayed by our ingenious cartmen in stacking up the indefinite sundries of a moving household; but I am much deceived if, set to load a camel with such incongruous traps, they would not be completely ‘non-plussed’. First, then, the docile animal was made to kneel down. The manner in which this movement is effected is singular, and very painful to behold at first. The beast, at a signal given . . . first utters a groan in anticipation at its expected burden; then stooping, it puts one fore knee upon the ground, then the other; after which, gathering its hind legs under the body, it comes down to the ground with an awkward and apparently painful jerk.

Then commences the operation of loading up. There is a sort of wooden pack-saddle, with projecting sticks on the top whereby to attach ropes. Then a large rope-net (made of the coarse fibres of the palm-tree wood) is spread over this saddle, and several feet on the ground on each side of the animal. Then on the net commences a foundation- of boxes, trunks, and other heavy articles, on which is raised a superstructure of hampers, kegs, barrels, batterie de cuisine, arms, saddles, and other gear too tedious to mention. The sides of the net are then gathered up and made fast to the pack-saddle horns. The beast is then assisted to rise, not by a kindly shoulder, but by the brawny arm of an Arab wielding the bamboo, who repays with interest the many rough blows which he himself has received from other quarters. When the animal is on his feet again, then comes the surplus cargo of light articles, in the shape of beds thrown across the top of the load, jugs and jars hung round the sides, the whole flanked by innumerable baskets, pails, lanterns, etc, etc.

Thus loaded, two camels carried all our effects. But it is only for short distances that such heavy loads can be carried by the camel. For a regular, long caravan journey, it would have required a dozen of these ships of the desert to transport conveniently and safely the same articles, with fuel and water for a few days.

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