…Sunrise and More
Ok, so I guess I should apologize for leaving you all hanging like I did with my last entry about the Abu Simbel Sun Festival, but forgive me — does anyone doubt that the sun came up the morning of October 22? I didn’t think so. Yes, indeed the sun rose up over Lake Nasser as expected, shining a rather ephemeral light upon Ramses’ temple and all the way into the inner sanctuary to illuminate three of the four statues there… as predicted. The colors of the temple changed from golden to orange, peach, pink, and finally a pale yellowish-white. Everyone cheered, whirling dervishes dances, and Nubian singers sang in front of the temple. It was beautiful. Enough said.
Barbara and I returned to our hotel to wait for our convoy on to Aswan. We waited and waited for our driver to show. Then, at what seemed like the last possible moment, he arrived, threw our bags in the back of his car, and we spun out of the Nefertari Hotel’s driveway to join a line of what must have been about 30+ cars and buses in convoy to Aswan. We were the LAST car in line. Guess we just made it.
Our drive to Aswan was uneventful and when we arrived, we checked into our hotel and collapsed for a little while… partly from the heat and partly from some sort of chest cold we had caught along the way between Cairo and Abu Simbel. I’d like to add a note here about the incredible amount of dust that exists in Egypt (and Jordan for that matter). Even now I am not entirely sure that the lingering cough I (and other travelers whom I’ve met) have endured is not a result of the tremendously dusty, dry air… at least in part. However, despite the respiratory discomfort, Barbara and I did manage to make the most of our time in Aswan (somehow), touring as much as possible during the morning hours, and resting during the afternoon. We visited all the main sites, did a Nile felucca ride out to the islands, visited the Nubian Museum (two BIG thumbs up!) and High Dam, and explored Philae Temple by day (but just barely because our boat broke down and we had to be towed by another boat) and night (by the light of a nearly full moon).
Moving on to Luxor, things improved remarkably — at least in terms of the weather (less hot) and touring options… if not in terms of our general respiratory health. We spent the entire week sightseeing all over Luxor and even did a hot air balloon ride over the West Bank’s Valley of the Kings/Queens. Our guide from Cairo, Wael, with his vast knowledge of Egyptology, joined us for this part of the trip again. You name it, we saw it. I was blown away by Karnak Temple in particular and found myself wandering through those ruins in total awe.
Finally, on Oct. 31, Barbara and I made our way to Dendara and Abydos for Halloween. Abydos is known as the most sacred city in Egypt and many people make pilgrimages there because it is believed that Osiris’ head it buried there and the temple site is considered the gateway to the afterlife. (Spooky, eh?) Unbelievably, I ran into a friend of mine, Libby, from the States at Abydos. Amazing coincidence…or perhaps not.
Later that night, upon returning to our hotel in Luxor, Barbara and I met up with Ahmed #1 again and Marie, a Belgian woman I met through the Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree. And so as Barbara prepared to depart for home, ending her 18 days traveling with me, Ahmed, Marie, and I prepared to depart on a Western Desert Safari the following morning. So closed one chapter of my trip through Egypt as another began… out amidst the oases and dunes.