Tired but happy, we piled back onto the bus for the last jaunt of the day: on our way back to Cairo we stopped at a carpet school.
Here, the workers weave gorgeous Persian-style rugs out of wool, cotton, and silk, mostly for the tourist trade. As is apparently the case in most rug factories like this, the workers in question are actually kids.
Faouzi told us that it's sort of an apprenticeship system, and it makes the difference between survival and starvation for their families. The kids go to regular school half the day, then come here and learn to tie very small knots
according to a pattern a lot like a cross-stitch chart, but a LITTLE BIT finer.
Apparently adults' fingers are too large to tie the tiny little knots. Then the kids trim the plush even with a razor knife - though the rugs are re-trimmed by machine to a final finished length, if I remember correctly.
After we toured the workshop we were taken up to the showroom. I forgot to take pictures, but it was really something spectacular. I got drool on several of the rugs - the only problems were 1) I hadn't measured my rooms so I didn't know what size rug would be good, and 2) I really hadn't budgeted for one anyway. Sigh.
This was the first night that dinner wasn't included, but it was also the day that we learned the profound truth: on the days dinner is not provided, you won't have time to eat anyway. We were so pooped by the time we got back to the hotel that we just went to our room and collapsed. We'd brought some little food things - a package of almonds, stuff like that - and that was our dinner. It was plenty!