After a somewhat lazy morning, we boarded a felucca on the 31st. This is a traditional sailboat on the Nile, used as for fishing, ferrying, sailing, and whatever else the Egyptians and Nubians can think of. We spent the afternoon lounging in the sun, drifting down the Nile. It was peaceful and beautiful.
At lunch some people in the tour decided to jump into the Nile. It was cold, around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so I elected to only wade in it. Jordan went ahead and joined the group. I guess you just have to do it—how many people can say they’ve swam/jumped in the river Nile? The water is a deep, rich shade of blue and the sunlight is always warm and yellow. Palms, farms, and herds of goats and cows lined the shore and we could just see the desert stretch out beyond the trees.
We continued to sail until sunset, going about 20 miles in total, when we ate dinner on the service boat (run with an engine, not a sail) and got to use the bathrooms. For New Year’s Eve we sat around a small campfire, fueled by palm branches, and sang nonsense songs. Jordan and I were old fuddyduddies and went back to the felucca to sleep before midnight. Although the weather is decently warm during the day, along the Nile it gets very cold at night. Everyone wrapped up tight in blankets and sleeping bags and huddled close for warmth.
The next morning we went to the East bank and hiked up the road with luggage to a waiting van. The service boat’s sewage tank was too small for everyone, and I got to enjoy some raw sewage on my socks and in my shoes from a last-minute trip to the bathroom. That was fun.
The tour stopped in Kom Ombo and Edfu, two towns with famous temples in them. Kom Ombo was built by Ptolemy III after his son was killed by a crocodile while hunting in the marsh. He dedicated the temple to Horus and to Sokbet, the god depicted by a crocodile head. As the creator of the Nile, the Egyptians believed he protected them from the dangers but also had the power and right to bring death to whatever he wished. Edfu was a very famous temple for Horus, celebrating how he defeated his uncle Seth in a giant battle of good versus evil. There was still paint on some of the columns inside the temple, and it wasn’t hard to see how beautiful and grand everything was when first built. Throughout the entire trip Jordan and I have both been amazed at how large everything is (except for perhaps the Sphinx)! We have seen all these things in photos and been told about the pyramids, but the walk through these temples under 90-feet-tall columns and doorways is incredible.
After a many-hours long and bumpy bus ride through rural Egypt (in which we saw sugar farms, small towns, cane factories, the ever-present Nile, and such) we arrived in Luxor. As soon as I arrived I threw my socks away and took a shower. Sailing on the felucca was great, but sleeping and stepping in overflowing toilets, not quite so much. But we are both weathering the minor inconveniences well because, hey, we’re in Egypt, and we’ll put up with a lot to be here.
Now we’re resting in our hotel (a nice hotel with free internet in the lobby and lots of toilet paper!) and will join the rest of the tour group for dinner in a few hours. I’ve picked up a little bit of Egyptian Arabic and want to try it out in the market tonight or tomorrow. Although everyone we’ve run into seems to be fluent in English, it’s nice to know a few words, just to prove that I won’t be an easily ripped-off tourist in the market.
Egypt so far really has been amazing and we’re loving it. We highly recommend visiting, especially before prices go back up and lines become long again.