Aswan Travel Blog› entry 2 of 6 › view all entries
Ordered breakfast on the train which consisted of a juice, a couple of bread rolls with a strong cheese in them and a cup of tea or coffee. The train is running about 3 hours late and I watch Egypt go by from the window. There are many towns and mostly they are of mud brick construction with some of the Municipal buildings of fired brick. The agricultural homes are even more basic some with open sided constructions with palm branches, rags or anything usable for the roof. Litter and pollution is huge and ghastly things float in the canals. Some towns have run down buildings sporting satellite dishes on the roof. The narrow strip of land around the Nile is green but the desert is evident beyond that. Crops of dates lay spread out on the dirt to dry and form a patchwork of colours of yellow, orange and brown depending on the stage they have reached.
Donkeys are the main form of transport and they pull heavily loaded carts or are simply ridden and whipped to make them do the fast trot in the heat of the day. At Aswan we are bussed to another hotel right on the Nile with the waters lapping at our window, almost! It has a swimming pool but we barely have time to shower and change and I repack the crater on Andrew's back and put on a new dressing. Back into a coach and we are taken up to look at the Aswan Dam that the British built in 1802. It was raised twice but was still not high enough to stop the Nile flooding. In Pharaonic times the Nile would be in flood for 5 months of the year and this eventually led to the pyramids being built. The Pharaoh decided that if the field labourers worked on his project in flood times he would feed them and their families with three meals a day.
On we went to board a little flat bottomed motorised boat to take us to newly formed island where we saw the Philea Temple. This temple had been moved from a lower nearby point and reconstructed and on this newly formed island. Rasha began to educate us about the Egyptian Gods. She selects members of our tour group to play the parts of four Gods, who are two brothers and two sisters.
The good brother Horus had a brother who envied him and set out to destroy him by throwing a magnificent party and during the night traps Horus in a box. He then kills him and cuts his body up into 23 parts and then disperses the body parts to all the provinces of Egypt.
The High Dam was later built (funded by the Russians) which now holds a huge lake of some 500 kms.
This family is the traditional extended family where men are allowed to marry outside of their race but women are not. They have cooked us a meal which includes Bird's Tongue Soup (it is really a rice shaped pasta), rice, grilled eggplant, chicken, kofta, sand bread (it is cooked on the sand) and bananas. After we have eaten, the men come in and play instruments and sing and the children appear and dance with us. One little girl decides that I am exclusively hers to dance with but grudgingly lets her younger brother dance with us. We have been told not to give them money as their parents fear that they will buy cigarettes with it but trinkets or sweets are OK.
Walking back to the boat we see makeshift stalls selling shawls, souvenirs etc 'closed' by tying a piece of string across the opening! All the wares are within reach to the street so robbery must not be a factor here. We again cross the Nile and the air is hot and dry and peaceful. To bed as we have a 3 am wake up call to visit the temple of Abu Simbel.