Cruisin Down the Nile in Style...
Ahhhh vacation time! I finally wrapped up my two months of work at NAMRU-3 in Cairo and now have a bit of time to try and see some of this very kooky country I have briefly called home. First mission: to take me myself and I on that Nile cruise I've been dreaming about since 2000 when I was last in Africa. Knowing my tendency towards cabin fever I booked a short but dense 4 day cruise from Aswan to Luxor stopping at several temples along the way.
What can I say about it...well for those of you who have been places like Italy, Greece, or Peru you understand the syndrome that develops after seeing antiquities to the Nth degree. The first day was fabulous...the great Philae temple that was moved with the help of UNESCO to a small island just inside Lake Nasser to save it from the rising waters caused by the Aswan High Damn. It was heavenly, gorgeous and in an incredible setting I doubt the Ancient Egyptians could have complained about. The second day was still lovely...we stopped at the Edfu temple on the banks of the river and caught a old-fashioned romantic sunset over the Nile and the ruins.
By the third day I was a bit tired...and hot...and sun baked. While we waited the 10 hrs to pass our ship through the lock on the Nile we parked in a...well I hate to use the word heinous...but lets just say unpleasant little town called Esna which consists of a few streets, a small temple, a large hassle-icious tourist bazaar and wandering hoards of adolescent boys with an evil longing/tendency to stoke the forbidden body parts of any non-Egyptian woman they come across...or maybe it was just my lucky day. Anyhoo after being sufficiently traumatized by that experience I went back to the ship and tried to take a nap and shower to wash off the memories of that awful place. No offense Esna, I'm sure there are lovely people hidden in there somewhere.
From there it all sort of becomes a blur and by the time I was finished with the Valley of the Kings in Luxor today (incredible as it was) all I wanted to do is sit in a cafe with a table full of cold beverages in the shade. I say shade mainly because it's bloody hot down here in upper Egypt and surprise surprise my semi-translucent skin turned a frightening shade of purplish-red after 1 session of laying out by the pool...with sunscreen on mind you! Sigh...
Nonetheless, despite my now jaded cynical view on the whole Egyptian tourist machine, my last day ended well with an evening session at Luxor temple to watch the sun set and the lights come on which illuminate the monuments at night giving it an amazingly peaceful ethereal feel even though you are still surrounded by hundreds of tourists and shouting guides. Now I am off to catch the overnight train back to Cairo so we'll see if this warm and fuzzy feeling lasts = )
Next stop: searching for the Sphinx