The Camels.

Well; the Moulid has been and gone , and Yours Truly managed to miss the first and most traditional part!

I knew that the anticipation and excitement were growing, you could almost sense it, even from our flat up on the 4th floor. I took the camera down to the street, well before the procession was due to leave the old Mosque of Luxors patron saint, Abu El Haggag. You'll remember the story about how he became such an important figure for Luxor, and worthy of this Moulid in his honour don't you, Dear Reader? Just in case your memory is getting like mine, here it is again:

"When Shaikh Abu El Haggag came to Luxor, Islam at the time was not the major religion in Egypt; Coptic Christianity was the leading religion at the time. The city was a colony owned by a religious Coptic lady. She used to be called The Princess. Her soldiers saw Sheikh Abu El Haggag there and was immediately recognized as a foreigner, therefore he was taken to the Princess for questioning as they feared that he is a spy from a different tribe/region. He complained to her about the treatment he received and expressed that he wishes to become a local citizen. The lady was generous and offered him to stay as long as he wishes. He asked her to give him a land as big as a camel’s skin to sleep on it, she thought that would be maximum of 2 square meters, so she agreed as she was a generous Lady, he asked her to sign a contract confirming the deal which she agreed to.
At night, he took a camel’s skin and he cut it into a very thin line at the front of some local witnesses, something similar to a very thin washing line, he used it to border a big part of Luxor Temple. In the morning, soldiers saw this line and reported it to the Princess, and then she realised that he owns this bordered part of the temple as per their written agreement. As much as she was feeling deceived by his plan, they met few times afterwards, she was impressed by his knowledge and then she converted to Islam."
This thread of camel skin ran up Mustafa Kamel Street (Gold Street) and passed the end of our little alley, so we really are within the old boundaries of the town. The rest of what has become known as Luxor, isn't, really, they are just a conglomeration of villages which have been caught-up in the "urban spread"! 
Anyway, back to before the "ca-ran-aval". The direction of traffic-flow is reversed on Youseff Hassan Street and our section of Mustafa Kamel Street, due to half the town being inaccessible to motors, it seems very strange to see the "arabayas" coming up the street instead of down, and coming out of really bumpy side-streets as well!

Of course, not all the traffic has cottoned-on yet, It's Egypt, you know!

The main street was beginning to prepare for the grand parade, it's Luxors most exciting day, and almost everyone turns out to join in in some way. The lady and child on the left have come early to get a good viewing place. The gaily apparelled camels and horses were being shown off, up and down the street, like young girls being promenaded for slavering old slave traders!

Some of them are very big, even intimidating I would suggest. (Especially after reading in the MailOnline about the camel driver having his head bitten off by one of his annoyed beasts!!!) I also noticed that one or two if these had muzzles fitted; scary, or what?

I retired to the relative sanity of out flat for lunch, assured that there was plenty of time before I needed to attend with my camera. (Why oh why do I continue to trust the timings given by Egyptians? You'd think I'd never experienced "Egyptian Time" wouldn't you?)

Never mind, even though I missed the beginning of it, I was there for some of the more modern parts. (More of this in another posting!) And I did catch some camels in the actual parade:

What I didn't film was some (quite unnecessary, in my opinion) savage beating of the poor creatures. I suppose that when the riders have hired the animal, they feel entitled to treat it however their fancy takes them? I was astonished to find out that the cost of the day hire was 700le, with the biggest of the beasts costing 950le!!!

The owner hires a place just off Gold Street to stable the camels before they're needed, but straightaway after they're finished, they're taken back to their proper occupation in the sugar-cane fields, with the owner's pockets bulging with cash! Here they go:

I'll get around to posting some more in a while, insh'Allah! 


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