It was a hot afternoon in Luxor and we had just finished lunch. Our driver Ahmed came to pick us up, but we did not have a real destination for the rest of the afternoon. Suddenly Liz got an idea. She asked Ahmed if he knew a snake charmer. He looked puzzled, but Liz went on,
“Ahmed didn’t you say the other day that you knew a snake charmer who has a cobra?”
The locals who work with expats and tourists never like to disappoint, so Ahmed nodded, “So let’s go now,” Liz said and with that our car went to the outskirts of Luxor. We stopped in front of a mud hut and Ahmed disappeared. When he came back he told us that the Cobra had died last week, but there was man on the other side of town who has one. After several turns and twist (Ahmed was not quite sure of the address) we stopped on the main street, next to a dark alley which was too narrow for a car to go through, so we got out and walked the rest of way.
The entrance to the house was not reassuring, but bending down we went in – and found ourselves in a place where all daylight was lost. In the darkness we could hear Ahmed talk to the men, about 6 of them. Then we were asked to sit on the floor – luckily there were some scraps of carpet.
A woman peeked around a corner and a few minutes later brought us tea. I was glad it was dark because I did not want to see the cup I drank the tea from.
Ahmed pointed to the man sitting against the wall smoking a hookah (waterpipe) and told us that he was our man. Moments later a jute bag was brought in and placed in front of him. Putting his hand on it, he started chanting- we held our breath – the cobra was close………..but there was no need to hold our breath – what he pulled out of the bag was an ordinary garden snake.
Very pleased with himself he got up and draped it around my friends’ neck
I declined – which brought on lots of laughter and remarks I didn’t understand.
When we had finished taking photos and had duly paid for our entertainment we left.
I can’t say we didn’t feel tricked – but since it is very important in the Islamic world to never take a man’s dignity – we never let on that we knew the garden snake was no cobra!
More from Egypt soon
P.S. We found out later that our snake charmer is the man you call to get rid of a snakes in your garden- and they are no cobras!