Out on Lake Nasser
Wadi Halfa Travel Blog› entry 64 of 81 › view all entries
After a sound sleep we raced to a line forming at an adobe hut serving as the immigration office. Our passports were stamped out of the Sudan and we were thrilled to still have time for cold showers and a breakfast of beans, shredded goat or camel meat, bread, and tea. While hiking a mile or so into the desert - toward the southern shore of Lake Nasser - our sweat evaporated as quickly as it formed in the morning heat, already intense.
Two riverboats resembling paddle steamers on the Mississippi River in Huckleberry Finn's day were lashed to either side of a diesel-powered barge loaded with cargo. A third-class ticket for the twenty-six hour voyage to Aswan cost $2.90. Like on the train out of Khartoum all available space quickly filled.
We spent the day on the fantail basking in the sun watching miles of desolate desert landscape drift by. Casting a bucket overboard furnished clean water to wash up and to do our laundry. We found a galley below decks. It cost thirty cents for a plastic chip to hand the cook for the meal of the day. Lacking silverware, we used bread to lap the potato stew from plastic bowls which were freshly washed with warm lake water surging from the engine cooling system on the starboard side.
Shortly after sunset we passed the 3,000-year-old Abu Simbel ruins which had been dismantled and relocated before the construction of the Aswan High Dam and ensuing flooding of Lake Nasser. It was too dark to photograph that first Egyptian landmark. The air chilled dramatically with nightfall and a steady breeze across the deck. Captivated by the brilliant stars, Scott and I were amazed to locate the Southern Cross and the North Star in the same night sky. Those constellations provided the only link between the exotic lands behind us, the vast emptiness around us, and far off home.
I strung the hammock between two poles supporting the flimsy roof covering our deck. To keep its nylon mesh from digging into my skin, and added warmth, I wrestled a towel under my back and shoulders while tucking a blanket around my feet and legs. The shaky process took twenty minutes. Once settled in I prayed not to drop my Cleopatras or have to take a leak.