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Aswan and Return Up the Nile


Friday, January 4, 2008

The Nile from the hotel terrace.

This morning we got to sleep in until 7:30am. Part of the group got up at 2:30am to take a 6 hour trip to and from Abu Simbel Temple. This temple had to be relocated after the Aswan dam was built. Julia had been there once before and I was not interested in getting up at 2:30 so we opted out. Instead Julia and I and a few others from our group took a taxi to one of the posh hotels here in Aswan. We had some more bad coffee but we enjoyed spectacular views of the Nile from the hotel terrace.

A felucca with water and sand.

After this Julia and I stayed in the hotel lobby to use their free wireless Internet. As it turned out my bank had shut down my access to Internet banking, I guess because I was trying to access the account from an Egyptian Internet address. I used Skype to call them and get it turned back on. Thank heavens for Skype as I was on the line with the bank for an hour which would have cost me a fortune if I had made the call via a regular telephone connection. The lesson here is: when traveling in eastern countries call your bank before you start your trip.

After this Julia and I walked through Aswan, found an ATM, a pharmacy, and had lunch. We really are starting to get tired of the food on our boat so lunch in an unknown Egyptian restaurant seemed worth the risk; this food was not much better than the ship. After returning to the ship we joined the group to sail the Nile on a felucca which are the typical sail boats used on the Nile. It was very pleasant weather and this made our trip wonderful.

The felucca dropped us off at Kitchener Island which is a botanical garden and one of the most beautiful spots on the Nile I think. We walked the park observing birds and taking in the excellent Nile air.

From the island we took the felucca once again to sail the Nile a bit more until our motor boat pulled a long side and we transferred to it mid river. The motor boat took us further up stream to a Nubian village where we were scheduled to join a Nubian family in their home to have tea and dinner with them.

Me at the Nubian village.

The Nubian village has been the most rewarding experience of the whole trip for me.

The Nubian's live very modestly in a medieval style but they welcomed us and seemed very happy with their lives. We learnt some Nubian history in broken English from our Nubian guide. We ate dinner. Some people had henna tattoos; which they assured us would wear off in several weeks. And we finally bought some of their crafts and left on our boat to return to our ship. Wonderful!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Here we are on our mounts.

We rose at 6:30am this morning to take a short boat ride across the Nile to the join our camel ride to the Saint Simeon monastery. This is one of the oldest know Christian monasteries and reflects a time when Christianity was an influential religion in Egypt. Riding camels is fun except when they go downhill. Then you have to lean back hard and things can tend to get squashed if you are not careful.

Julia and the monastery.

From Julia: Camels are smelly, dusty and make the strangest gurgling sounds from time to time (David says it reminds him of Star Wars episode 3 Return of the Jedi on the Ice Planet). I was very glad that the price of the ride included saddle and camel boy. David was a natural born rider and took off for a run with his. On the other hand, I paid off my camel boy with a large baksheesh to stay in control of the beast.

The Philae Temple.

We returned to our boat on the Nile via our trusty camels and headed to Philae Temple on the island of Aglika. The temple had to be moved from its original island after the building of the Aswan dam, which was a mammoth task as the temple is enormous.

From Julia: Since being in Aswan we've seen so many varieties of birdlife, we wish we had a bird expert with us to tell us what they all are. We've seen so many herons and egrets that we are almost blasé about seeing them, and lots of other strange waders and long-legged, brightly colored things. At Philae Temple we saw a group of several hawks circle over our heads. We couldn't identify their type but they were very beautiful and graceful as they soared around the rocks.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

An egret.

As my American friends would say "there is no free lunch". Well in some sense this was true for Julia and me on our return up the Nile from our magnificent experiences of ancient Egyptian treasures. In this case it was not lunch but dinner that cost us dearly.

After our dinner on Saturday night, and might I add the last meal we ever ate on the boat, we both became terribly ill with vomiting and explosive diarrhea. Before we left England for Egypt my English friends, that had been to Egypt, all explained to me of the perils of what they referred to as gypy belly. What a quaint name I thought as I listened politely to their stories of woe. Well now after 36 hours of hell on earth their stories no longer seem so quaint. In fact we were both so sick that I have nothing to report since Saturday evening except for pain and suffering of which I am sure you do not need mine to add to yours so I will not boar you with the details. Let me just say if I were to ever return to Egypt I would bring my own bag full of dehydrated food and not eat any food prepared for me by an Egyptian.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Praise be to Allah, we were finally well enough, able, and believe me willing to leave the tour boat behind us. We staggered down the gangplanks, falling into a cab in Luxor, to collapse at the Luxor airport as we waited for our flight to Cairo and on to Sharm El Sheikh. Yes we are still in Egypt but now we are in, as Julia put it, the Vegas part of Egypt staying in a five star resort for 7 days with nothing but SCUBA diving, sun baking, and resting before us. The big question is "can we trust the food at the resort" who knows but I do wonder just how long one could live on cough lozenges?

From Julia: It feels as though I am in a dream It's so gorgeous here, especially after our suffering!

Kitchener Island Video
Nubian Village Video
Saint Simeon Video


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