Aye aye Cap'in Nasir
Kom Ombo Travel Blog› entry 5 of 23 › view all entries
A trip down the Nile River is a must in my opinion.
I had arranged to do just that whilst I was in Aswan and early on the morning of the planned departure I met Captain Nasir, his First Mate, Fati and three others who were soon to be new chums of mine.
A couple from Holland, Ed & Mariel, and a Czech mate (haha) named Pavel.
Nasir didn't own the felucca, he simply kept it sailing up and down the Nile in an effort to feed his family and make money for the owner of the craft. This summer was not a good season for the Egyptian tourist industry and everyone was hurting. It meant good things for us as tourists but prices had to be cut to the bare bones by the operators if they wanted business from the few of us that had come at this time of the year.
We began the trip by haggling over the amount of water Nasir had to provide for our 3 day cruise. There was a little "unhappiness" on either side but we finally came to an agreement and a few additional bottles were purchased before we paid our fares and set off.
The first stop was at the Police Station as Nasir had to register his journey and provide the details of his passengers. After that little false start we were away!
Out on the water the heat of the land was quickly forgotten and I lay back to enjoy the experience. We chatted easily enough for the first couple of hours and I must say that the whole 3 days was as easy as that.
I discovered much more about Egypt and the Nile, it's importance to the Egyptians and the how the geography of the Nile Valley made commuting so perfect - the current carries boats down to the metropolis of Cairo and the wind blows them home again.
We were only going as far as Luxor over the next three days but all of us thought long and hard about staying on the Felucca for the return journey, or perhaps getting another to carry us down to Cairo. In the end it was time and money that made us leave the water and continue from Luxor to Cairo on land. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
A couple of hours into the journey we reached our first tourist stop, the Temple at Kom Ombo.
We could see the temple sitting grandly on the bank as we neared it. A ferry had just pulled away from the wharf and as it ploughed the water on the starboard side of us (that's about the limit of my sailing knowledge) we were able to appreciate how small our little felucca was.
Everyone from the ferry waved as we passed alongside. It was all very exciting.
At the wharf there was a second ferry tied up, it's passengers having spilled out to visit the temple.
The first thing that struck us as we approached was the aggression of the touts trying to flog off their t-shirts, scarves, statues, papyrus and other trinkets. There was a line painted on the hard ground and the Tourist Police marched up and down the line prodding the vendors back to their stalls if they put one foot over the white mark.
We were pleased for that. We weren't interested in buying trinkets but unfortunately we had come in on the tail of the cash laden ferry passengers and there was a feeding frenzy afoot!
We had a wander around the place and returned to the boat.
The old saying goes, "If you're not fast - you're last!"
After Kom Ombo we continued easily down the river. Our Felucca is not heavy enough to be carried by the current so Nasir and Fati took turns sailing, tacking (yep, more nautical jargon) back and forth to keep us heading North.
We came apon a bank where several kids were playing in the dust.
When the dust became too much for us Nasir decided to pull back out into the river. As we left I saw a young girl who had run off come back wearing what must have been her best dress. I pointed it out to Mariel and she was terribly disappointed that she had not seen the girl return when we were close enough into the bank to get a good shot.
Nasir told us where he was aiming to put in for the night.
It was the night of the soccer world cup. Pavel's Czech team was playing and it was important that we found a house with a television.
Ed and Nasir were also excited to watch the game.
By the time we had tied the felucca and asked around the village for the tv we moved in behind all the men huddled about the set. We had just missed the start of the game but no goals had been missed.
It ended with Pavel being very happy. I can't recall if Czech were victorious but they were the underdogs in the match so even 2nd was good enough.
I wasn't so enchanted by the "Beautiful Game" as the others and was happy to be distracted by the women and children who poped in behind us every now and then.
Finally when the match was over the villagers asked us to join them for a party. I'm not sure if it was a special occasion or if it was our arrival that had prompted the festivities, but we were up for it!
It was a great night. I danced with several women and lots of girls until I could dance no more. Who knew what time of the night it was when we gave up the dancing, but it was pitch black outside and I'd made such an impression on the ladies that they let me ride their donkey. I'm sure it's not every stranger from New Zealand that has this honour bestowed upon them and I humbly accepted.
After explaining the workings of my camera to him, one of the boys took a snap of me atop my mount.
We then retired to the boat and slept until the sun rose and woke us. Nasir took off for a short time, returning with some freshly picked apricots and mango. A great breakfast to start the day!