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Free the Nile

Aswan Travel Blog

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Margaret admiring the Nubian's trash.

We made it to the train station with actual tickets and ended up meeting two guys from Illinois on the train traveling separately.  One is an engineer who also quit his job to travel for 6 mos.  He keeps saying that  everything is much crazier in India.  Can't wait for that...anyway he has been traveling with us ever since.

Speaking of crazy, I am uncovering some of the meaning behind what appears to be total disorder on the roads.  No one drives with their headlights on at night.   Headlights are more a means of communication rather than a way to illuminate the road plus the cars are so crappy here they cannot run with the lights on very long.  Each flicker of the light means something different, as do the different honks.   Hazards are used to signal heavy traffic up ahead to those behind you.

Laundry on the Nile.
  

More importantly though, I made it to Aswan.  The first afternoon we took a ferry over to Elephantine Island to visit Nubian Villages - at least that is what the LP guidebook says we should do there.  Instead we ended up walking around in their garbage looking at their dillusional sheep and goats with massive balls.  OK, we did meet some of the locals, watched them do their laundry in the Nile and let these boys  lead us around until an elder chased them off.   However, we did not exactly see the draw to the island so we grabbed another ferry and headed back for an early night as we had a very early wake-up call.

Bob and his Nubian buddies.

The main reason for heading down to Aswan is to get to Abu Simbel where Ramses II's Temple is located along with a smaller one for his wife Nefertari.   The drive from Aswan is about three hours and the location dangerously close to the Sudan border so all tours go in a convoy.  This meant we had to get up at 3 a.m. to meet the rest of the tour buses at 4 a.m. arriving at 7 a.m. when the temples open.   It is also cooler for sight-seeing at that time as Aswan and further south is super hot still this time of year.  The temples were amazing!   The size is overwhelming.  They are located on the edge of Lake Nasser, but were actually moved when the dam was built to control the Nile (our new slogan is Free the Nile).

Abu Simbel Ramses II Temple (Bob, Charlie and Margaret in front).
  Anyway, the dam caused the water to rise and thus would have covered the temples forever.  So over a period of four years the temples were disassembled and reassembled further away in a man-made mountain.  I cannot imagine the time and patience something like that would take but I am sure glad they were able to rescue them.  Inside the hieroglyphs are breathtaking with lots of details and colors yet.  Unfortunately there was lots of graffiti in places from the 1800s when there were no tourist police and protections for these monuments.

On return back to Aswan at about 1 p.m. we also checked out the Philae Temple on an island nearby.  We met another guy from Connecticut who is also studying at AUC and studying Arabic so he was useful to have along to negotiate the cabs and so forth.

Near Ramses II cartouches
  That Temple was actually more amazing to me.   The hieroglyphs were carved so brilliantly into the stone.  There was a lot of damage to some of the carvings and actual crosses carved in some places but all that really added to the history of the place.  It also was not as touristed so we could just chill in peace (after bribing tourist police to leave us alone).  After that we grabbed food on a floating boat on the Nile followed by quite a few hours of drinking the local brews and smoking sheesha at another floating boat on the Nile.  We had a 6 a.m. train to catch to Luxor so we ended that at midnight.

So far we haven't slept much in Egypt.  There is far too much to see and sight-seeing is better done in the early morning hours when the heat is not at its peak.

Local on Elephantine Island gazing at the Nile.
  We made it to Luxor this morning and were immediately bombarded at the train station by people trying to get us in their cab.  I have become really good at ignoring all this, but I luckily spotted a guy holding a sign with the name of the hotel where we booked.  We got a free cab ride to the hotel and snoozed the afternoon away recovering from all the activity of the last few days.  I cannot believe we have less than a week left here so I fear sleep will still continue to elude us until we bid farewell to this amazing country.

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Margaret admiring the Nubians tra…
Margaret admiring the Nubian's tr…
Laundry on the Nile.
Laundry on the Nile.
Bob and his Nubian buddies.
Bob and his Nubian buddies.
Abu Simbel Ramses II Temple (Bob, …
Abu Simbel Ramses II Temple (Bob,…
Near Ramses II cartouches
Near Ramses II cartouches
Local on Elephantine Island gazing…
Local on Elephantine Island gazin…
These children were competing for …
These children were competing for…
I know this isnt what I came to s…
I know this isn't what I came to …
Dillusional sheep
Dillusional sheep
On Elephantine Island making scarv…
On Elephantine Island making scar…
Ramses Temple (there are four Rams…
Ramses Temple (there are four Ram…
Ramses II
Ramses II
Carving at Abu Simbel
Carving at Abu Simbel
Temple for Nefertari
Temple for Nefertari
Posing in front of Lake Nasser
Posing in front of Lake Nasser
Eliot, Bob and Charlie on the ferr…
Eliot, Bob and Charlie on the fer…
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
At Philae
At Philae
Inside Philae Temple
Inside Philae Temple
Isis carvings at Philae
Isis carvings at Philae
Isis carving inside Philae
Isis carving inside Philae
Hieroglyphics inside Philae
Hieroglyphics inside Philae
Snake symbolizes Lower Egypt and V…
Snake symbolizes Lower Egypt and …
Egyptian Eye
Egyptian Eye
View from Philae Temple
View from Philae Temple
Bob negotiating for some sunglasse…
Bob negotiating for some sunglass…
Fava beans and chick peas to go wi…
Fava beans and chick peas to go w…
10% beer!  We had three sips and c…
10% beer! We had three sips and …
Eliot enjoying sheesha.
Eliot enjoying sheesha.
Goofing around and enjoying sheesh…
Goofing around and enjoying shees…
Aswan
photo by: Vikram