Down river with the rockboats
Esna Travel Blog› entry 7 of 23 › view all entries
After leaving Edfu our next stop was to be the small town of Esna. There we would visit the Temple of Khnum.
It was a hot hot day and there was no breeze out on the water. Nasir was struggling to capture enough wind in the small upside down quill of a sail above our heads. As we struggled lazily drifting in the same spot he explained that our felucca was too light to be carried at any speed by the current.
We took the opportunity to swim. The good thing about the Nile up at this level is that it's still relatively clean. The further North you go the uglier the water becomes, in fact after Luxor the quality rapidly declines and I wouldn't even consider putting my head under.
Down where it meets Cairo I saw so much crap on the surface of the Nile I think I could have walked across it.
If any other miracles were to be performed I doubt wine could be attained. I'm sure nothing clearer than a thick vegetable soup could be produced these days!
At lunch we stopped into an area of crops. We had been told that the Nile was the toilet and we were not to go on land. Mariel found that very difficult to abide by and would take Ed onto land now and then, as required.
This time, as we lolled about, they came bounding back to the boat and we hastily put out from the bank before some very unhappy farmers got their hands on the couple. It seems Mariel had found a nice bit of privacy between some crop rows and I think we all know how unhappy you are when you find you cat has dug in your garden just before you do.
Back on the water we had some good luck. A couple of Rockboats were floating down towards us. Nasir called to the captains and we were tied up with them. The weight of the steel-hulled boats and their cargo were just what we needed to make use of the current. The three of us spent the next couple of hours drifting together until the wind came up again, midafternoon.
When finally we arrived at Esna it was dark. nasir and Fati set to cooking dinner for us as we turned the felucca from the lounge to our dining, then bunkroom.
Naisr had been invited to a wedding in the village and he invited us to attend with him if we wished. Apparently the more numerous the guests, the more important the Groom. In Egypt a man can have up to 4 wives.
Mariel grilled him about the treatment of women and their value in society. During this conversation we partook in a little intoxicant and I was pleased that dinner interupted any further consumption should our fiesty Dutch Girl get too passionate about the topic as she was much larger than our spritely captain.
Ed, Mariel and I were happy to lounge about the boat, happily numbed by our intoxicating depressant. Pavel was here for the good times though and he trotted off with Nasir and Fati to be guest of honour (as a European) at the wedding.
I don't know what time it was that they woke me as they crawled back onto the boat but it was dark.
I woke again at some time in the night. We'd had a few things stored in the bow chewed by a rat and I was dragged from my slumber by the feeling that there was something about the sized of a cat crawling over my body. I pulled my sleepsheet tighter around my neck and hoped the thing (which I assumed was a BIG rat) would keep walking rather than bite my arse!
Next morning I was awoken at dawn by some splashing in the river behind the boat. I raised my head and saw two buffalo enjoying a drink and a swim. I got out my camera and took a snap.
A couple of minutes after they had been lead away I saw a woman enter the same spot and start washing her dishes. I wondered how much mud had been stirred up by the animals.
The next thing two boys came down to the bank with a large bowl of what looked like donkey offal. As the little boy swam in the same area as all this previously mentioned activity had occured, the older boy tossed a donkey head and hooves into the Nile as rubbish and began washing the guts clean of anything within. Obviously it was to be served as food in the near future!
Certainly this river serves it's people in many many ways! I wonder if they'll ever appreciate the importance of conservation or will it end up like the Ganges?
Anyway, I was pleased I could complete my ablusions using the bottled water rather than having to dip my toothbrush into the murky Nile.
After breakfast we wandered into town to check out the temple. It wasn't the best of sites by any stretch of the imagination but as we made our way back to the Felucca I was delighted to see the Esna Branch of the Bank of Alexandria.
By lunchtime we had reached Luxor and after careful consideration about whether we should return to Aswan with Nasir we decided against it and bid he and Fati a fond farewell. The three days on his boat were the best of my 14 days in Egypt and I'd do it again without a second thought!