Yasmina, originally from England, has lived in Cairo for 20 years. She’s a dancer, teacher, photographer, and B&B host. You can stay at her gorgeous top floor flat in Giza while visiting! She has a beautiful studio as well as tons of beautiful nooks and two balconies perfectly set up for photo shoots. No way were we going to pass up this opportunity!
Amity kindly arranged for our group of six to share two days (three people per day) with Yasmina behind the camera. Luckily, we had had luck shopping in Khan el Khalili the prior day so we had plenty of costume options to choose from!
After worries about cloudy weather potentially interfering with our plans, i woke up to a text from Amity left in us know that we were leaving in just one hour! Thankfully, Nibal was downstairs and she helped us to find a taxi with an English speaking driver and a fixed price. We left the hotel about 10 AM, costume-laden suitcases in tow, to go to Yasmina’s apartment.
On the way there, we kept bringing up dance topics while Amity made cutting motions across her throat (thank you, Amity!). We are in Egypt now. Best not to blabber on about being dancers in unknown company!
On the way there, with the cab blasting 90s pop music… oh, hey, there are the pyramids! Huge, huge, pyramids, just casually hanging out on the skyline. ‘S cool.
After just a short can ride, we arrived and Yasmina cane down to meet us. Karen and Amity were meeting a professional make-up artist, with stunning results, while I would put my face on in an adorable spare bedroom.
We spent the next few hours changing costumes and posing and dancing in various corners of Yasmina’s flat. She is very particular about which colors work best in which settings, which is fantastic!
What a joy it was to dance on a rooftop balcony in Egypt under a warm sun in March!
Then came a venue change… At about 3 PM we packed up and headed to the desert to take pictures in front of th pyramids! We donned our desert costumes (bright colors best!), cover ups, and pulled on pants under our costumes. (Note to self: closed toe shoes would have been smart.)
We drove with Yasmina for about 15 minutes to some stables where she keeps her horse. There were 4 horses and a camel waiting for us. With no time to waste, we hiked up our cover ups and costumes and climbed into the saddles. Karen took the camel on the way out, while Amity and I rode horses. An experienced rider, Yasmina took on a high-stepping horse that was still in need of training.
We set off towards the desert, down a small dirt road past a cemetery, some unfinished construction (really common here), my horse being led by the guide since I have no training whatsoever in riding.
As we reached the edge of the desert, a group of eight or so young men came galloping towards us at full speed, ignoring our guide’s motions to slow down. They passed us and our horses didn’t even flinch.
After about 15 minutes of a leisurely ride over hills of sand, we came to a ridge with a clear view of the pyramids. We dismounted and headed to the edge of the ridge. Yasmina took out her camera and the shoot began! It was a hazy day, with the sun in and out of the clouds, but the result was that our brightly color costumes popped even more against the backdrop.
The wind was strong when we started but it just kept getting stronger, providing really fun movement even when we were posing still. We tried all kinds of different types of set-ups… veils, dancing, poses, camels in the frame. So much fun!
After a while–and tons of shots–the light was fading and the wind was still getting stronger, and we were ready to call it a day. On the way back I decided to brave the camel. They are tall, with a rolling gait, so I was super nervous. But how can you pass that up?! It took a few minutes to figure out the right muscle groups to stay upright and comfortable, but once that phase passed it was awfully fun.
I don’t think there is anything more touristy than riding a camel in a belly dance costume (evinced by comments such as, “Aloha! You look very Egyptian.”). But, hey….. worth it!!
When we returned to Yasmina’s, Amity got a text from our wonderful tour guide from the previous day, Nibal, who said she was on her way by the other half of our group, who had visited Khan el Khalili that day, and she would pick us up.
As it turned out, the others were at the nearby Egyptian Perfume Palace so Nibal brought us there. The power was out (it happens from time to time) so everyone was sniffing botanical essences in the dark while sipping lemon and hibiscus drinks. Of course we couldn’t pass up this opportunity!
The lights came back on half an hour later and we all cheered, then looked around to see all of the beautiful tiny glass perfume bottles (actually made of Pyrex!) lining the walls. We made our purchases and headed back to the hotel, exhausted but happy!