Drowned the past to save the future.
It is Thursday morning and after a great breakfast at the Movenpick ( on a island ) we took a boat across the Nile and got into our bus. We went to the airport and flew to Abu Simbel for the day to visit Ramses II Temple with his wife's Nefetari's tomb next door. They are so impressive made more so by the fact in 1968 they were moved block by block to the present location. The Nile River was damned at Aswan, flooding thousands of hectares of land up stream. The Egyptian government didn't have the funds so Unesco (mostly American funded ) paid 40 million to move and save Ramses II temple and the smaller one of his favorite wife Nefertari. Its original site is 200 meters away from where they presently sit. In total only 12 temples along the Nile were saved. Hundreds of thousands of people displaced and history covered. Dendur temple, was dismantled and moved to the Metropolitian museum in NY and several others to European cities as thanks for the financial assistance. Prior to the flooding all portable objects were removed, and a 500 km long lake (Nassar) created when the damn waters rose.
At Abu Simbel they built a dome to cover the relocated temples. On the outside are 4 huge statues of Ramses II , his favorite of 40 wives, his mother and a few of his 140 children. To get a perspective of size, even the children at his feet are much larger than life size. The dome looks authentic, being covered in Rock and sand. The carvings and paintings inside are very well preserved and they have done a fabulous job of lighting them. They are the best I have seen. When we first arrived there was a crazy group from NY (about 40) but they left 10 minutes later and we had the place to ourselves. Literally...we were the only people there.
We stayed several hours and then went to lunch at a Bedouin farm. It was really a beautiful setting. We pretty much have the same meal every time; chicken, beef or fish with rice, vegetables and pita bread. Dessert is usually fruit. Lots of guava, which I am learning to like.
After dinner we walked through the house which is now a small hotel and the owner Vikry took us for a walk to his farm yard and garden. I'm glad we had lunch before seeing the farm animals. His garden had two elderly men hand cutting alfalfa.
At 4pm we had to meet the security police in a parking lot to join a convoy for the trip back to Aswan. We didn't fly back as it wouldn't leave us enough time in Abu Simbel but the pay off was a 3 hour drive. Our convoy is 3 vehicles, each with an armed guard riding in the front seat. Our guard seems very young but he's carrying a very big automatic rifle. In Egypt all boys have to serve 14 months in the army.
We are staying at the Movenpick again so it will be a good night. Dinner was up on the 13th floor. Abdul kept us entertained with funny guide stories. ...or were we just in a better mood as the restaurant served beer and wine!
Abdul explained that because the Koran says drinking, serving, making money off of or even watching people drink alcohol will send you straight to hell, even Coptic (Christian) establishments can't find people to work where alcohol is served.
Bye for now...