I think Egypt is trying to kill us. No, not violently! I think the Egyptians are trying to exhaust us to death. Yesterday started at 7:45am, when we were woken up after 6 hours of sleep by Basma calling to tell us that someone had a bunch of barn swallows in a bucket and we had to go get them immediately. The day ended at midnight, after we finished climbing around a shed and dodging an angry cow to catch a pair of birds, while a crowd of 50 or so chanting children waited outside. We’ve been here for 4 days, we’ve caught 15 birds, and we are so, so tired.
We arrived in a village outside Damietta around 7pm, and were immediately surrounded by a crowd of exuberant children. Damietta is not a tourist town, and it seemed likely these kids had never seen foreigners before. Basma and Mamdouh’s friend led us to his store, which indeed had a nest inside. They barred the door while we went in to catch the birds, but we could hear the crowd gathering outside as we worked.
We emerged to chaos- dozens and dozens of clamoring people, all staring at us. A man in the crowd announced that he, too, had barn swallow nests, so we trooped down the block, Basma clutching our backpacks and steering us from behind as the throng of people surged around us. We could make out shouts of “Foreigner! Foreigner!” and “Hello!” among the Arabic.