Luxor and Aswan
There was so much that happened on our cruise down the Nile. We flew from Cairo to Aswan and then took a ship down the Nile from Aswan to Luxor, stopping at a few towns in between. We saw temples and tombs as we were guided through the history of each site we visited. Among the sights we visited were: the High Dam, Philae Temple, the Unfinished Obelisk, Kom Ombo, Edfu Temple, Valley of the Kings, the temple of Hatshepsut, Valley of the Queens, Colossus of Memnon, the temple of Karnak, and finally the temple of Luxor. While all these sights were interesting, they weren’t my favorite aspect of the trip. So I’ll post a few pictures but I’ll save my descriptions for the things I enjoyed most.
My favorite experiences of the trip happened on the first day. We arrived in Aswan where our cruise ship was parked alongside the Nile. The ship was scheduled to leave the next day so we had lots of free time to spend how we wanted. I wanted to explore the city. Ben, Jessa, and I started walking around the city and found a friendly man selling clothes who invited us in his shop for some tea. Now… I have been stopped numerous times by vendors who seem friendly but are just hoping that I buy something. After visiting with this guy for a few minutes and refusing to accept his invitation for tea multiple times (like I do with every other vendor who wants to give me tea), he assured me that the tea was free and he wasn’t trying to trick me. I felt comfortable with it so I conceded… and volunteered Ben and Jess to join us by my concession. It turned out to be a pleasant experience. We entered his open-aired shop and had a glass of tea as the man shared the history of his shop with us and asked us questions about our studies and life in Egypt. After a good glass of tea and a 45 minute conversation, we kept exploring.
As we kept exploring we came upon some men skinning a calf for the holiday (Eid al Adha).
After watching them for a while, we were swarmed with a bunch of young girls asking us questions. It was a lot of fun. It’s always exciting when I’m asked a question in English and upon answering it in Arabic a native speaker says “Oh, you speak Arabic” or “بتتكلم عربي كوبس (you speak Arabic good). After a while, we went back to the ship for a feluka ride around Elephantine Island.
The feluka ride was pleasant. The most wonderful part was seeing the Nubian houses, watching a Nubian girl sit at the bank in contemplation, and witnessing the young boys in their frugally constructed canoes paddling toward our feluka with their thin pieces of plywood. The young boys in their canoes started stirring my adventurous side. I began wishing I could be in my own small canoe cruising around the Nile with them. They would grab on the side of our boat and catch a ride until they didn’t like where we were going. One of the canoes that latched on to our boat begin singing tunes in all kind of different languages. It made me start dreaming of how exciting it would be to have my own canoe…
After returning from our feluka ride and getting some dinner, I was ready to go back out again. Ben, Jessa, and I took off in search for an area to play frisbie. We came upon a park fairly quickly and begin to play frisbie. After about 30-45 minutes of frisbie, a group of Egyptians walked by and began to talk to me. After about a five minute conversation they asked if we wanted to play soccer. Jessa decided to rest and talk to some of the local girls that were watching us. Ben and I joined the soccer game. Our team won and I had 2 out of the 4 goals that my team scored…. oh yeah! I think they had a stereotype that Americans weren’t good at soccer, but they were wrong in this case. 😉 After the soccer game we headed back to the ship for a good nights sleep so that we could arise early for a day of site seeing.
After a few days of monuments, temples, and tombs, we arrived in Luxor. After the ship arrived in Luxor we found freedom again with a little bit of free time. In typical style, we went exploring. After walking for a while, we run into some young kids who we started talking to. They were eager to talk to us and it was really good Arabic practice because they didn’t know English. They took us into their field and showed us all of the crops that there family grows. With normal Egyptian hospitality they gave us each a tangerine (I got two ) and some peppers to eat. The tangerines were excellent…. mmm. They also showed us their donkey. Ben and I both got a turn riding it. Haha… donkeys aren’t the most comfortable things to ride. After an hour talking with the kids and having fun, we continued walking.
We ended up walking through the village of Rafah which proved to be really awesome. The village had a completely different atmosphere than the cities of Alexandria and Cairo that I had become used to. A young man from the village helped us find our way around the village and gave us good company as we looked around. We came upon a wedding reception with loud music and dancing underneath a cleverly made tent. Although invited, we didn’t have time to wait for the bride and groom (who would be arriving in an hour or two)… unfortunately.
We walked back to the ship just as dinner was being served. The cruise finished with a last day of intense sight seeing.