I forgot to mention that we also stopped in at a place where they create paintings on papyrus. A young man showed us how it's done, how to spot forgeries and we looked at all the beautiful works of art. I couldn't decided on anything so bought nothing.
We got into Aswan and checked into our hotel where we got to clean up and I did some sink laundry. I wasn't counting on needing socks. It's not very warm here. Today's high was about 16.
We hopped into a boat that took us to a Nubian village on the other side of the Nile river, then piled into the back of a little pick up and ended up at a family home where we were served traditional Nubian food. .All of it was very tasty with the use of many different spices. Apparently saffron is cheap here so I will be stocking up along with the best quality cumin. We'll see if I can taste the difference.
Nubians are Muslims who live in separate communities and speak their own verbal language. Their children learn Arabic in schools provided by the Egyptian government. They have an agreement in some way in that they're Egyptian, participate in the armed forces but only for peace keeping activities.
While enjoying sitting in the sun Mudi explained the Muslim religion to us and it's various sects as well as how the typical Egyptian lives.
Then back in the truck, the boat and walked to the hotel. Grace and I are on the 4th floor which is really the 6th but they don't count the lobby or restaurant floor. Once we realized that we felt better about being out of breath by the time we climbed all those stairs to our room. Sure we could take the elevator but that's for wimps or people carrying heavy things.
Abu Simbel was moved from it's original location when the dam was built and the area flooded to create Lake Nasser. Originally it was built so that on Feb. 21 (king Ramses birthday) and Nov. 21 (his coronation) the rising sun lit up the king's face. With all the modern technology, the exact position to the sun could not be replicated so now it happens on Feb. 22 and Nov. 22. When Mudi was explaining that, someone suddenly noted that we'd be visiting it on Feb. 22. Wow! How lucky is that? Unfortunately that means that everyone and his brother will also be visiting it then and plane loads of people are coming just to see it. Buses go in convoys for safety reasons so all have to go at the same time. Soooo.. we tried to have a nap before our 11:30 pm departure. The first stop was the convoy meeting area. All buses travel together supposedly in case of break down or emergency as the 3 hour drive is quite desolate. Meanwhile the police are there with dogs and mirrors to pass under the vans and buses to check for what? Bombs? Who knows. We even got a police escort in our van. I got a few winks of sleep before arrival where we took the bare minimum with us to avoid security lines. It didn't work. I tried to just walk through the exray machine but everyone was also patted down so pockets were emptied and some of that stuff (including my camera and spare battery) had to go through the ex ray machine.
Finally at the temple we spent the next 2 hours coming up with Indiana Jones scenarios while standing in line fighting to maintain our position from late comers who figured they could sneak their way to the front. Not past us you can't buddy. The sun shines on the king for only 20 minutes and we were determined to be one of the few to see it. There were police holding ropes and doing crowd control everywhere and even snipers on top of the temple. Finally the doors were opened and we started to walk through. You had to crouch in front of the king so as not to block the sun rays coming in. We each got maybe 3 seconds to see it then were ushered out again. It was kind of anticlimactic but still pretty incredible. Despite the “NO PHOTOS” signs everywhere and the police constantly telling people, they were still snapping left right and centre. It really pissed me off as I would have loved to take photos but, out of respect, kept my camera turned off. Several of us pointedly put hands in front of cameras and scolded people. One lady with an ipad told me “it has no flash”. I said NO PHOTOS PERIOD! And stood in front of her. A police man noticed and scolded her too.
The temples are spectacular but I think I'd prefer to see them on a less important day. It WAS nice to have been there for such an event though.
Feb. 22 Back in the van by 8 am we headed back to Aswan where we visited a perfumery. They served us the lunch we'd ordered and hibiscus tea and taught us something about the production of essences. I got a quick massage with sandalwood and eucalyptus oil which was quite nice.
After a quick stop at the hotel to clean up some of us walked to the Cataract hotel which is where Agatha Christy stayed when she wrote Death on the Nile. It was pretty fancy so we just walked around for a bit and found a place to sit and have a coffee. Apparently the site we chose was for the “elite” so we had to move. I guess it was obvious we didn't fit the definition of “elite”.
Next we set off for the market. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on spices so they'd better make my food taste really good. I did get a large amount of saffron which is hard to get at home so I'm sure it's worth it.
After a quick stop to pick up a jacket, the van took us to the river where a boat took us to Phalae island to see the sound and light show at Phalae temple. What a great experience and wonderful way to learn about ancient Egyptian history.
By this time we're down to 4 of us who were still awake enough to want dinner. It was 9:30 pm by this time so I settled for a sandwich and bread with an eggplant dip. I'm eating a lot of white bread.