• Ahmed Elkhouly

The Guided Tour of Hidden Treasures..



My first day in Port Said I thought I had it all figured out, I had seen its architecture, crossed the canal to Port Fouad, and enjoyed the sun setting over Port Said. Then during my morning walk, while I was shooting a time-lapse, a young stranger walked towards me and asked a curious question “What are you doing?” I know I don’t belong, wearing shorts and boots and carrying my rather big backpack everywhere. I explained in details and told him what I was doing. Honesty, I was happy he asked; ever since I arrived in Port Said, all of my encounters were conservative and suffered a lack of hospitality.



Hassan was 17 and instead of sleeping like most teenagers his age, so early in the morning, he decided to help his little restless brother, Hamza, fall asleep. After staying awake all night, “He tricked me and took a sip of frappuccino”, he said, “and wouldn’t sleep”. So Hassan decided to take him for a walk as maybe the sun and fresh air would help him dose off. Which Hamza did surprisingly during our initial conversation, “I can show you around”,he said, “There are lots of beautiful buildings hidden within those streets”. How could I resist!



Hassan carried his sleeping baby brother for the next hour while we walked around, he not only knew his way around, but he even memorized the story behind most of the building he showed me. Suddenly, I could see Port Said differently, and Hassan was the reason. His devotion and openness to showing me around were a sign that no matter what common traits people have some people are different and aren’t afraid to show it.



“Im not a very social person, and don’t approach stranger” he told me. So, I started explaining why fear of rejection is what stops most people from having new experiences and that the odds are always in his favor if he chooses to believe so. Eventually we reached a point where our paths split. This super hero tour guide, still carrying his brother, headed back to his home.



The first few days of traveling were means for me to test and calibrate what the best approach would be. During Ramadan the simple daily routines people are used to tend to shift, since you only eat after sunset and have to fast from dawn. So, in the morning most people are asleep and most shops as well; the city starts to wake up around 2:00 pm with most shops opening after Iftar. I had to figure out a way to travel between cities and be as efficient as possible during my visit accommodating these shifts in normal daily routines.



So my day starts at 5:00 am that’s when I pack up and get ready to travel, I reach a new city around 8:00 am and start with finding a place to stay. I usually wash any cloth from the other day then settle down for a bit. I head out to enjoy the semi vacant streets with cool weather until noon. Then head back to rest for a couple of hours usually editing pictures and attending to the blog.



At around 3:00 pm, I head back out and this time the streets are alive with people. I wander the streets searching for interesting conversations, and try to approach different businesses to help create some content for their google listings. After Iftar I get some me time, I pick a spot that feels appropriate and enjoy my evening coffee for tomorrow is a whole new day.



I usually scroll though the map of every city before and during my visit. While, I was doing so in Port Said, a huge warehouse looking building caught me attention and was labeled “The New Fish Market”. Being in Port Said it made sense for a city with both the canal and the sea to have a fish market.



It was huge, a fairly new project but in a more modern manner for fishermen to show case their catch. It was clean, well lit, and most importantly well drained with large gates to help vehicles go in and out delivering their fresh product. For me, this was a first clean fish market in Egypt, as usually fish markets are smelly and crowded places that aren’t very appealing.



To make things even better, multiple shops inside the market clean and cook any fish you buy, and I couldn’t resist. That day I shared my Iftar with a few stray cats that also couldn’t resist the mouth watering smell or delicious taste.



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