Felucca mast (abstract)
[Camera and photos finally returned to me by my kind sis (13/02/2009) ... view and enjoy etc...]
Most people remain asleep swaddled in warm cushions, blankets and sleeping bags inside our tented felucca but a few of us wobble down the plank to shore to watch the Re's disc of light, the sun, re-emerge on the far east bank of the river. A really special moment. We quietly sit, chat and take pictures as we begin to warm by its light.
Last night we were a party of about a dozen guests but as it happens, a breakdown in communication between Capt. Ayob and his agents means that actually all but Louise and I will be leaving the felucca after breakfast to get a motor transfer straight on to Luxor.
A real shame as it's a real good bunch of people and we'd been getting on really great last night. But no great shakes as life, lazing about on the river is all about as much horizontal relaxation time as you can pack into two days. The quieter and more peaceful the better I guess. Besides Louise is a fab girl and makes great, great company as our journey later continues and goodbyes have been said to the rest of the gang.
As mentioned yesterday the entire journey by river we undertake is barely 50km so the order of the day is no more complicated that floating from side to side of the Nile ('Tacking' Matt tells me is the sailing terminology for this action) in a leisurely northerly direction, then mooring up often for some hours at a time on one bank or the other to take in the scenery and just chillax to the max.
Hotel Felucca... 5 star beds ;)
You are never alone for long as after we drop the departing guys'n'gals off on the east bank, another felucca potters up along side to do the same. Willette, the lady I chatted to in the crowd at Abu Simbel
is on board. Once again the world proves how small it can be. The remaining guests on the boat of captain Mahmood (aka Capt. Jamaica from the corniche in Aswan
) and his mischievous and disaster-prone sidekick Sayeed are a great Canadian couple Nick and Sophie who soon become Louise and I's travel companions for our remaining day & night upon the Nile and beyond.
Felucca time is eeeeeeeasy time.
Slow life. Dawdling away the day. Maybe trailing your hand in the Nile's waters. Reading, relaxing, recounting your travels to your friends. Music on board now courtesy of Nick's Ipod. Copious amounts of tobacco and occasionally more umm? atmospheric
substances are smoked on route. Poor Nick being the only smoker of the 4 remaining guests is obliged at all times to constantly hand out rollies or join one deckhand or another for a fag and a chat. The rest of us just loll about smiling. Dozing. Staring at the sun. The water. The sky. Spotting little flashes of nature from time to time. I am hypnotised by the flickering play of light that cuts across the underside of the orange, rose-flower patterned awning of the feluccas roof achieved when the sun drops to a particular point of its arc.
Nile drift at dawn
Louise reads her book 'Four Play'
at the speed of light, a staggeringly fast-flicking bibliophile. In our time together she reads about 400+ pages to my four... but I am distracted... plesantly distracted by unadulterated rest and relaxation. Reading sounds like hard work to my arms and eyes in comparison to shlomping about about on the cushions strewn about me. Felucca time is good, good precious time. One of my favorite experiences in all of my time in Egypt! Capt. Ayob is apparently becoming very fond of Lou and I for company and constantly babbles and banters away all day long. Pratting about. Joking. Further anecdotes of life on the Nile. We continue our beginners arabic lessons from Louise's Lonely Planet phrasebook from last night also.
Counting from one to ten "wahid, itnayn, talaata, arbá, khamsa"
We catch up with Nick and Sophie's felucca on the west bank again. A third felucca also where a plesant Swiss couple are introduced to us and I have my chat with Capt. Mohammed about the impact of the High Dam on Nile ecology previously mentioned. Nick and Sophie recount the rather scary first night of their felucca journey under the direction of the calamitous Sayeed. It involves shady dealings, abuse with other Nubian felucca captains and meetings and fights beneath the great Nile bridge late at night and unsettling invitations with the aggressors to a Nubian family village and a sit-down meal laced with uncertainty and awkwardness. Sayeed also spent the entire day coming on to one of their American co-travellers.
All hands and legs to deck!
She was glad to get off this morning. I am quite relieved to be with Capt. Ayob, as is Louise. Nick and Sophie now also relieved to be travelling at close quarters with us.
The rest of the day passes in much the same way. Pleasant food nicely prepared and filling throughout as well as cups of pleasing, sweet Nubian chai. At night we all moor up together on a wooded outcrop of the Nile bank just a few hundred metres down from the landing stage for onward travel to Kom Ombo tomorrow morning. Nick continues to have to smoke on demand until his throat is nearly burnt right through and the infamous Sayeed starts a fire on the river bank but hasn't realised that there are large trees hanging directly over the spot his chosen and he risks setting the whole damn place, and our boats alight.
This guy is a professional baffoon... to be safe if anyone of you are ever in Aswan looking to arrange a trip and the deckhand introduces himself as Sayeed... politely decline and look elsewhere! You have been warned :D
Night has fallen. We retire to our separate feluccas and snuggle down for our final night on the Nile. Stevie likes felucca time. Stevie likes Slow Life.