Sunday, February 21, 2016



Geoff is now a Nile cruise celebrity, having won the great potato race last night! We went down to
the lounge just to take a peak at the festivities. Ash was already there and we were able to find some seats with him. Before the dancing begins, they play some games - one is like musical chairs, one is like hot potato only with a water bottle, there were a couple more. Geoff got volunteered for the potato race - where they tie one potato around your waist and it dangles down to push the potato on the floor to the other side over the edge. I pushed Ash to go up there with him. He went reluctantly, I guess he knew what was coming. What a riot!!  And when the old white guy won, the crowd went wild. Going to breakfast this morning, everyone was smiling and coming over to us - calling Geoff the champion. Last night, we were the only "foreigners" in the lounge - I think all the Egyptians really got a kick out of us.

This morning we visited the ancient Granite Quarries and the enormous unfinished obelisk
which lies still attached to a great mass of granite. Remarkable how they cut these giant slabs in place.  Then had to carve a path through the quarry and wait for the Nile to rise to help life it down the river.

Yesterday when we were talking with Ash, I had said something in Yiddish. He was curious about what it was - so we talked a bit about languages. He said he should be taking a lecture from me. So today while we were walking around the quarry, I mentioned another Yiddish expression and Ash immediately took out his notepad and pen (which he hasn't had all trip) and started taking notes. Geoff joined in as well. Now Ash writes down anything we say that he's never heard of. I think he just loves to soak up as much information as he can.  He is trying to work with a television station to put together a tourism video. I hope he succeeds.

Moving on from the quarry, we drove over the Old Dam built by Mohammad Ali and then visited the new High Dam which was built in the 1960's. Before the dam the Nile flooded every summer - making the land fertile but also doing destruction as well.
The Aswan Dam is an embankment dam built across the Nile at AswanEgypt between
1898 and 1902. Since the 1960s, the name commonly refers to the Aswan High Dam. Construction of the High Dam became a key objective of the Egyptian Government following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, as the ability to control floods, provide water for irrigation, and generate hydro electricity were seen as pivotal to Egypt's industrialization. The High Dam was constructed between 1960 and 1970, and has had a significant effect on the economy and culture of Egypt.
Next we took a motor boat over to the  Philae Temple. This giant structure was moved from its original spot because of the construction of the dam. We heard that as we were coming ashore, Mrs. Sadat and her two daughters were just leaving. Maybe we will run into them at our next stop.
Philae /ˈfli/ (GreekΦιλαί Philai; Ancient EgyptianPilakP'aaleq; Arabicفيله‎  Egyptian Arabic: [fiːlæ]) is currently an island in the reservoir of the Aswan Low Dam, downstream of the Aswan Dam and Lake NasserEgypt. Philae was originally located near the expansive First Cataract of the Nile River in southern Egypt, and was the site of an Ancient Egyptian temple complex. The serapids and the surrounding area have been variously flooded since the initial construction of the Old Aswan Dam in 1902. The temple complex was later dismantled and relocated to nearby Agilkia Island as part of the UNESCO Nubia Campaign project, protecting this and other complexes before the 1970 completion of the Aswan High Dam.
One observation throughout these temples is that there is a lot of desecration to the faces of the godsand kings. This was primarily done by the Christians when they converted the temple to a church. Not unlike what the Muslims did in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. They covered up all of the mosaic Christian saints with plaster. Such destruction of such beauty -- it boggles the mind.

A quick stop back at the ship and we were off again for a walk into the town of Aswan. This consisted of a train station and, of course, a market. More great sights and I really wish you could smell what we smell. The spices and cooking aromas are fantastic - especially before lunch. Which is now. Really going to miss the food on this ship. Although it is a dieter's nightmare - lots and lots and lots of carbs. But they do great things with eggplant!

Spent about an hour or so on the top deck before meeting Ash for our afternoon excursion to a
Nubian village. Another boat ride and the scenery was amazing. I have never seen dunes so high. At the village, we entered a typical style house. The Nubian people worship the crocodile and keep them in their homes - aging from very young to very old - so there is always a constant flow. I have to say that it was pretty sad to see these poor animals caged up in such small spaces. Plus, the big ones can eat more than the whole family. What is the point? Hang an icon like everyone else!

Anyway, we sat and had tea and some bread, which is baked in the sun not an oven, with some dipping stuff and halavah. Included in the price of admission, I got a couple of henna tattoos. The atmosphere here is extremely dusty with a haze over everything. We left the house and walked along the village getting back to our boat. The ride back was windy and chilly.

As soon as we got to our dock, Ash got a call from Egypt Air, they want to change our flight to Abu Simbel tomorrow morning. Apparently, tomorrow is a very special day at the temple. The sun only hits it twice a year and tomorrow is the second of those days. We did not know this when we booked it. More details about Abu Simbel to follow tomorrow. But, needless to say, it is going to be very crowded on this sacred day.

After dinner, Ash explained that our flight was moved from 6:55am to 10am. The good news is we do not have to get up at the crack of dawn. The bad news maybe that we might miss the sun hitting the temple. It is a very busy day tomorrow - flying from Aswan to Abu Simbel for a quick run to the temple then back on the plane to Aswan where we transfer to go to Cairo. Should be back in Cairo just in time for rush hour. Ash is not coming with us to Abu Simbel, but we have agents from Sito Tours during our whole junket and we meet up with Ash again at Cairo airport - hopefully. Ash just went out to buy us a sim card for our international phone so if we need to we can call him. I sure hope this all goes smoothly. I also hope it is worth it! We'll know tomorrow.

Next time.... Abu Simbel


1 comment:

  1. Hail to the champion! We salute those who are about to sail the Nile. And speaking of the Nile, great photo scenes of the dunes and plant life along the banks. Curious about the tatoos..what is that it raised? The spice shops look fantastic. A whole pharmacy of herbs for diabetes, blood pressure etc.. I wonder if they really work.

    Hope you got lucky and caught the temple sun ceremony in Abu Simbel. I'll read about it tomorrow.