Monday, 22 October 2007

The last meal on the Nile (Day 7)

We woke up to find ourselves at a totally different place from last night. We had been sailing for quite some time that morning and have reached Luxor by that time. Our Nubian crew had already prepared a nice breakfast for us. We enjoyed our last meal on the river Nile.

On our itinerary for the day were a couple of nearby temples. First we stopped at Luxor Temple. It is quite huge and hieroglyphs on the buildings are very well preserved. We were slowly getting tired of with different kinds of temples, so after a short while we moved on to our next destination - another temple.

Our next stop was the Karnak Temple. It is even bigger then the one before. Here we also saw one of the magnificent Egyptian obelisks.

Today there are 28 known ancient Egyptian obelisks scattered across the globe. Only 8 of those are still in Egypt. Others have been moved (mostly stolen) by various countries. 11 stand in Italy, 4 in UK and the others are owned by France, Israel, Poland, Turkey and USA. Egyptian government tries to claim them back but is not very successful in doing that.

In the evening we took a walk around the city of Luxor. We tried to find the Bazaar to annoy local merchants. We got so ruthless in our haggling that on some occasions we were even thrown out of a shop. Nevertheless I am pretty much sure that we didn't always get what we wanted by local prices.


Thursday, 18 October 2007

The Nubian Nile experience (Day 6)

The first part of our day on the Nile (described in my previous post) continued with some more relaxing and soaking up the positive atmosphere.

Crew members constantly kept doing something I didn't dare. When they were thirsty, they simply reached over the edge of our boat for a fresh glass of Nile.
If I did that, I guess I would still have diarrhea today. Thanks, but no thanks!

After we finished with our lunch (for more details you can check out the previous post) it was time for a swim in the Nile. The water was surprisingly clear and we enjoyed every part of it!
I did it despite reading in a couple of years old guidebook that if someone happens to fall into the river Nile, he should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Even one of my readers here shared a story about an aching finger after dipping it in the Nile (you can read about that in comments to this post).

Before the night crept upon us we tied our feluka to the river bank and watched some local boys playing soccer. They were quite good and were obviously having fun.

I went on a short walk through the nearby fields and took a few nice photos. One of them was with this local, doing some field work. Of course afterwards he wouldn't go away without some baksheesh.

After a beautiful sunset the Nubians built a fire and grabbed their drums. People say they are born with a musical ear. I had to agree.
We danced around the fire and tried to sing along. Music lasted long into the night and died out hours later together with the fire.

After some time sitting in the dark by the river, watching millions of stars, we went to our feluka to catch some sleep. I went to sleep thinking of the excitement a new morning might bring us.


Monday, 15 October 2007

Curse of the Pharaohs (Day 6)

First thing in the morning we boarded a feluka in Aswan. The plan was to get down the Nile with an occasional stop.

Our first stop was in a Nubian village. It was much needed, because the effects of the Curse of the Pharaohs were just kicking in.

It was a simple village, with colorful walls around the houses. We were invited into one of those to have tea. It is a habit in Egypt to offer a glass of tea to a guest. Usually one can choose among a few different ones: karkade, mint, black or black with fresh mint. Low quality black tea blend is the most common. They all come with a load of sugar.
I usually have my tea without sugar, so I had to adapt to the Egyptian way.

The Nubian house we were visiting also had a large yard enclosed inside a wall. On the sandy floor there was a half made feluka sail.
In one of the yard's corners stood a toilet. I am not exaggerating when I say that our party of 13 visited it more then 15 times in half an hour. I think you can figure it out yourself.
No, it wasn't that pretty and yes, it was the good old Pharaoh's curse. The tea after our camel ride the day before was definitely the thing to blame. Oh well, what could we do - when it's there you just have to live with it for a few days. It just meant we had to start taking anti diarrhea pills and everywhere we went, toilet paper went with us. I didn't go so far to try to use the local water hose way of cleaning myself.

This didn't stop us from tasting more interesting local dishes and drinks. On one of our next stops it was time for some freshly prepared local food by our Nubian crew. We had aish (local flat bread), vegetables (cucumbers and tomatoes), feta-like salty cheese and bean kofta (fried green-bean balls).

I took a few photos of those dishes - you should have no trouble guessing which is which.

We followed our guide's example and stuffed the bread with different combinations of those dishes. It was a simple yet very delicious lunch.

There was even a large amount of watermelon for desert. I flushed it all down with a cold beer. Ahhhh... it felt good. It is not always easy to get hold of a beer in Islamic countries, so we took every opportunity we could.

Later in the afternoon we were about to meet the Nile from up close and personal. But more about that in my next post.

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