Sunday, November 06, 2005

in transit

I am back in Cairo for a day. The rest of my trip to the south was great. From Aswan, I was on a felucca for 2 days and nights. A felucca is an Egyptian sailboat. For the first day and night, there were 6 passengers and then the 3 people from France got off. The remaining passengers were Mike and Milan. Mike is an American working in Iraq (keeping the generators on a base running). Milan is a student from Germany. He is living in Cairo for 3 months, doing an international studies project- he is interviewing Germans that are living/working here in Egypt. They were great company for my time on the boat and in Luxor.
The crew on the felucca couldn't have been better. Captains Ahmed and Khaled (Captain Bebo)and co-Captain Ghad (an 11 year old boy) were awesome. They joked around and made the atmosphere fun and comfortable. The felucca zigzagged along the Nile, downstream to the North. The first night, after we stopped and ate, Khaled started playing a bin (until a drum somehow appeared-from another felucca maybe) and singing. Apparently, during the summer, when tourism is down, he plays and sings at weddings.
The second night, we invited a honeymooning couple from the felucca next to us to join us for dinner. Jack is from Kenya and Solange is from Malta. The 5 of us were fast friends and spent quite a bit of time together that day and in Luxor.
There was drumming and singing the second night, too, only around a fire on a small beachy area across from Komombo, our destination. The crew from our felucca and 2 others all joined in. After a while, there was a bit of a problem. Some guy from the village above (Mustafa) showed up. We were told that on previous occasions, he had caused a lot of problems, harrassing the foreign women. The crew from the 3 boats didn't respond well to his presence and there was a lot of yelling and big sticks were in hand. The guy ended up jumping into the Nile and swimming away, only to return above us a little later, to taunt the guys. Magnoon.
Being on a felucca was great, but very cold. It is getting into winter here. Down that end of the Nile in Egypt, it is still very hot during the day, but at night it gets quite cold. And the breeze along the river is not exactly warm. It was a good thing that I had a sleeping bag with me, as they only had a few blankets.
The next day, we went to the temple at Komombo and then the one in Edfu. I don't have all of my info at the moment so I am not sure which temples are where. After checking into our hotels (both Milan and I were at the Shady Hotel on Television Street) in Luxor, we went the the temples of Karnak and the temple of Luxor, both in Luxor.
That was a lot to pack into one day. I don't remember much of what the guide said.
Later that evening, the 5 of us sat around on the roof of Mike's hotel (the Arabesque) drinking wine. A great way to end the day. That was the last we saw of Jack and Solange.
The next day was the tour of the West Bank- The Valley of the Kings, The Valley of the Queens and the funerary temple of Hatshepsut. We went into 3 tombs in the V of the Kings, and 2 in the V of the Queens. King Tut's tomb was not one of them, because there is nothing much to see and it is an extra 70 EP to get in.
The 3 of us had lunch/dinner at Murphy's Irish Pub in Luxor. Fantastic burgers!!! Just what we were all wanting. They left that evening, in their separate ways.
I spent one more night in Luxor and the next morning was in a convoy to Abydos and Dendara. I had my own private minivan, though. An odd feeling after being on crowded minibuses to go everywhere else. There were only a few people going there, so in the temples, I could easily see most parts free of tourists (a rarity anywhere else). The temple of Hathor in Dendara was amazing, complete with pillars, a crypt and a dark, winding staircase up to the roof. On the roof, a guard took me into a couple of rooms that were locked up, so that I could see more. He didn't speak much English but was able to get across what I was looking at, for the most part. He was showing me pictures that were on the walls (the more important ones). I was surprised that he wasn't pushy or anything, as most people are (they all just want baksheesh/tips). He was kind and when I did offer him a small tip (I didn't have much change to give), he was slow to take it. He was just full of smiles the whole time.
I spent last night on a train back to Cairo (10 hours). I was lucky and had all three seats to myself. Tonight I get on a bus for Nuweiba, in the Sinai. My friends at the Ciao hotel here in Cairo got me a great deal at their branch (a resort hotel) in Nuweiba... a deal for Laura only. They are the ones that arranged my trip to Aswan and Luxor. I found out that I really am getting good deals, because the agent in Luxor told me not to tell ANYONE what I was paying because I was getting too good a deal. All because I am me. :P


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