01.06.2012 40 °C
It should be compulsory to travel the Nile on a boat. Having survived Cairo we were not convinced that the "Nile riverboat cruise" would be up to much. After Cairo, I had visions of 1970's decor and a lot of black smoke from poorly maintained engines. I have been pleasantly surprised. The Princess Sarah has a lobby that wouldn't have been out of place on the Titanic. There is a dinner bell, rung by a dude wearing a spiffy bellhop uniform in shades of pink. They service the room and make awesome animals out of the towels and leave them on your bed. My compact but well appointed cabin has a cute indoor 'balcony' with a sliding door that opens the whole wall to the incredible view. I could spend the whole time on board sitting watching the Nile glide by because the wildlife, palms and people that appear and disappear at 60 second intervals are each worth a decent poem or two.
I am enchanted. My favorite Wilbur Smith books are suddenly alive, and I wish I had Taita sitting beside me telling me his stories.
We arrived in Aswan and it was like the world shifted on its axis. All of a sudden I got it - 'it' being the desire to visit Egypt at all. The whole feeling was different. I have decided that I hate Cairo and it's a real shame the Pyramids are there else I would recommend missing it all together. In Aswan, the pace of life is slower. You can sail about on a felucca and watch the ibis in the river and while it's still damn hot, it's somehow peacefully hot rather than frustrating.
After the boat left Aswan we sailed to the Kom Ombo Temple, dedicated to Sobek - The Crocodile God - and Haroeris - the son of Osiris. It's right on the river so the boat just pulled up alongside and we walked up the temple steps to see another spectacular example of the ancient Egyptian wealth and engineering expertise. The mummified Crocodiles (the biggest one 4.2m in length) were pretty cool too.
At Edfu, Princess Sarah stopped again and we piled into Caleche that were certainly well older than I, drawn by ponies that looked like they were, and took a trip through the town to see the Temple of Horus, the largest and best preserved of the Ptolemic temples in Egypt. By far the coolest thing about a Caleche is the fact that they have sun shades. It transpires that it gets hotter the further down the nile you go, which is actually not surprising when you think about it as we're heading closer to the equator. For some reason, both of the temples we visited today were stroller accessible, which meant the lads had some respite from the sun and hot hands, and could be covered with damp muslin cloths. To give you an idea of the heat, the muslin was bone dry in about 20 minutes.
Sadly, while parts of Egypt rock my world, I really hate the hawkers and the touts. We keep getting told its just the way of life, and that the recession has hit everyone hard and they are just trying to make a dollar. But there is pushy, and there is shove something cheap and nasty into tourist's hands and then get angry when they try to give to back and won't pay for it. My 'wall' face is getting a lot of use, but I feel rude and I hate being the angry tourist who tells everyone to 'yalah' regardless of their good intentions - like trying to help with my kids - just in case they are a scam artist. Having said that, this morning I sat and quietly watched from my cabin a man in a dish-dash hold his little boy's hand and bend down to talk to him before the rest of the guests on the boat woke up and 'trade' started for the day. The little boy had the largest white grin. He was wearing an arsenal soccer shirt and cargo shorts, and he had a plastic bag full of trinkets to sell. I can't quite describe why it made me pause. Perhaps it was a reminder that even the pushy little shits that seem to be there just to annoy ME are children in some cases. I guess humanity takes all forms.