The young boys bargain too hard so we leave them with nothing. They laugh, leaning against their boats, spitting in the lake, thinking we will be back.
He stands up from the wall, speaking quietly he offers us a lower price and slips us onto his boat before we disagree. His skin stretches thin over his face, a short, tight mustache, his eyes are hard brown stones.
The boat slips over Lake Nasser, a lake conceived by engineers and lawyers, a lake with right angles and without remorse. A lake which ate homes, which splashed away memories, which drowned Ancient Egypt’s stories.
“This my house.” A small place on the edge of the water.
He points the direction we are going: “This island.” Quiet ruins, gardens and ancient prayers.
“You my house coming, you my tea drinking.” He tells us, without smiling. Thin lipped.
“Yes.” We say.
“Tea very nice, very sweet.” He doesn’t smile. Gets up to flick the rope high, tie it to the pier.
We reach the island and we step off, saying goodbye.
Ten minutes later he emerges, a white-robed character from behind a rock. He walks hunched, but quickly, energetically waving a small scrap of paper and a pen in his hand.
“You number.” He says. “You my house coming, you my tea drinking.”
I scratch the number on his paper and he folds it tight, satisfied.
“I call. You my tea drinking, after.” He calls, hunching over and walking in short, fast steps away.
He leaves on the boat, standing at the helm, his white robes flowing out across Lake Nasser. A lake conceived by pragmatists and developers. A lake which irrigates the desert lands of Egypt, which rushes out of house taps, which generates city lights.