“Would you like to see the Banana Island?” Badawi asked after I had finished my tea, and he had done the dishes in the Nile.
Wondering what else he had in store for me, and where there could be an island with bananas in the Nile, I hesitated – by now it was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and it had been a long day – including a 3 hours visit to Karnak in 90 degree temperatures. I was ready to return to the hotel, but he said, “You must see, very nice”………..after a moment he added, “and very, very interesting, you see.” while pointing to the West Bank.
A few minutes later he tied our boat up to a small jetty. After going through high, wet grass and walking up some concrete stairs leading to an elevated part of the Nile’s Bank, there , on top of the stairs were rows and rows of banana plants. I was not tired anymore – I had never seen how bananas look in their natural habitat.
Badawi explained that they are not trees, but plants. They can grow to a height of up 20 feet, and their leaves can grow to be 9 feet long and 2 feet wide. The clusters of bananas, hanging on top of the plant, start out as flowers.
Banana Island was a river island, but a few years ago the space between the main land and river was filled in – now it is part of the West Bank, but still called Island, and it still feels like one; peaceful and remote – just banana plants, sunshine, and stillness.
When we walked back to the boat, Badawi handed me a cluster of bananas. They were ripe and sweet, not to be compared with their supermarket cousins.
And as he had said, ……”very, very interesting, you see?” – I was grateful that I had come and seen.
More from Egypt soon