Today was a grab-basket of activities. Shawki took us to view the granite stone quarries where the ancient Egyptians cut their raw materials. There is an unfinished obelisk still lying in the quarry, abandoned, but not forgotten. Akin to the giant towering obelisk created by Hatshepsut at the Temple of Carnak, it is one solid piece of granite. Hard to imagine that the ancient Egyptians only had chisels, their hands, and the natural powers of water and gravity to cut and move these enormous stones.
Up next was a brief tour of the high dam constructed to harness the power of the Nile waters. Then, we visited the last temple on our list – the Temple of Phila – the temple of love and where Isis and Osiris conceived Horus. Located on an island, this temple was originally underwater due to the habitual flooding of the Nile, but after the high dam was built, concerted efforts to move it succeeded in relocating the temple to another island. The entire thing was taken apart and restructured. We traveled by motorboat to tour the island and while the temple is beautiful, the scenery around was just as gorgeous.
But the best part was when Shawki showed us this special hieroglyphic. He said it was the first instance where “love” was depicted. See where the man’s hand is going? Instead of offering the key of life, the ankh, to the woman’s nose or face, he’s offering it to something else entirely.
Immature chuckles aside, we got back to the Nile banks just in time for our felucca ride. I’m assuming felucca means “sailboat,” but no one clarified. M feels like we were cheated since we were only supposed to sail around an island in the middle of the Nile and return to shore, but I think the ride was awesome. Peaceful, away from most of the terrible pollution, I loved the wind and sun in my face.
We didn’t sail around the predetermined island. In fact, with Shawki’s help we sailed to the far bank and went on an adventure instead. M had been eyeing the unattainable flame-colored sands on the far shore since we got into the boat and finally voiced his desire to scale the mountain and view the desert from the ridgeline.
We braved a thicket COVERED in thorns sharp as needles and longer than an inch. My poor foot was a casualty since I didn’t know we’d be jumping from bush to bush like gazelles and wore my flip-flops. After the thicket came sandy pebbly boulders that had to be scaled, but we did it. Well, we made it halfway. The ridgeline was much farther than it looked and we had to get back for lunch.
And so ends our journey down the Nile to Aswan.
Tomorrow, we fly to Abu Simbel, tour the huge monuments erected by Ramses II there, and catch another flight back to Cairo. That’s the plan at least. Hopefully tomorrow night I’ll be able to blog semi-normally from the comfort of my hotel room instead of the sweaty Internet café where I was only able to get one post up today.
Give the kitties a kiss for me Dad!