Monday, September 17, 2007

"Cairo. . . .city of the living. . .a paradise on earth" Andie has a post up on houseboats of the Nile. They're apparently becoming a dying breed. Which is kind of a shame because they're probably the most pleasant manner of habitation in Cairo. ARCE maintained a houseboat for visiting guests and the Cairo director for many years, finally abandoning it in the early 1990s. It was a classic 1930s-style thing, just like you see in the movies. You reached it by going down a walkway bounded by a lot of plant life to the boat and then crossed a short gangplank onto the boat. It had bedrooms, an office, kitchen, bathrooms, the whole shebang. It was very quiet, on the west shore just south of the University bridge. I think they called it the Fustat.

I first stayed on it in 1988. The next time I went back, in 1991, it was in a sad state of disrepair. I imagine it must have been expensive to maintain, and it was quite a distance from the main ARCE offices downtown by the Museum. They eventually decided to buy more space in their existing building, refurbish everything with some guestrooms for visitors, and just sell the old houseboat. It's too bad they couldn't have kept it for some purpose because it really was a treat to stay on it. I'll have to dig up some pictures of it if I have any.