Our Luxor Vendor
We have been buying our hand-carved scarabs, alabaster and other items in stone and ceramics from the Matani family in the village of el-Gourna, across the Nile from Luxor. This wonderful family has been involved in making replicas of ancient statues for as many generations as can be remembered. The patriarch is named Mahmoud, one of the kindest, gentle vendors we have ever known. Mahmoud's home was originally made from sun-dried mud bricks, as were most homes in Luxor for countless centuries.
When my parents, wife and I were on a buying trip in the mid 1990's there was a rain storm so fierce that the mud bricks began to melt and the house began to crumble. We all helped Mahmoud get the important belongings out of the house and into his neighbors cement block house before we needed to get to safety ourselves. This storm brought hail to Luxor and they have never seen hail in their lives. I explained to panicked faces that it was just ice! I told Mahmoud that I would do my best to bring him enough business to help him rebuild in concrete, which he accomplished a few years later.
A visit to the family compound always includes a hand-prepared meal, with sun-baked bread and other local delicacies. Their hospitality is boundless. We've been a part of the family for more than 30 years, and their home is one of my most special places in all of Egypt.