If I thought 6:30 was an early call it was nothing compared to this morning’s 5:20am call! Some restful holiday this is turning out to be.
Washing and dressing quickly before opening the curtains (remembering we had another ship berthed next to us) we were delighted to see the Nile again, our neighbour having departed without us being aware.
Our bleary-eyed tour group met in the lounge for coffee before departing on foot for the first temple of the day – Esna.
The colours inside are still as vivid as the day they were painted. That’s mineral paint for you. Much more durable than I thought. Again we witnessed much destruction by hammer and chisel but only on the upper levels. As luck would have it, the majority of the temple was buried up to the capitals of the columns, minimising the damage. Currently the temple lies 10m below ground level. The surrounding grounds of the temple still lie buried under modern-day housing. The inhabitants will be moved to new housing to allow excavation of the rest of the site. I wonder what they’ll uncover.
As our tour ended we wandered, less bleary-eyed, back to our ship and breakfast. The ship set sail for Edfu. The British tour operators are currently not running tours to this temple. It is only reachable by horse and cart and the health of the horses is shocking. The German tour group on board were scheduled to visit but we would remain on board.
As we arrived at Edfu it became all to apparent why the UK operators refused to stop. I’ve never seen such poor, thin, dejected beasts. Out of twenty I counted only one in reasonable shape to work. It’s a bit of a vicious circle. The horses will not be fed properly if the owners do not earn enough to feed them.
I was glad to set sail again. Settling underneath a sun canopy, books and crossword puzzles to hand, a new form of entertainment appeared.
“Hello!” came a voice from seemingly nowhere.
Getting up from my comfy chair, I wandered to the edge of the deck and peered over the rail. To my surprise a small rowing boat was keeping pace with our ship. How come these guys do not win rowing competitions? We were going at a fair speed and upstream too! They spotted me.
“Hello lady. I have towels and table cloths. Cheap as chips!”
What UK tv programmes have these guys been watching? By now I was joined by other passengers and the little boat crew had an audience. Luckily for the traders, they also carried Egyptian Galabeyas (traditional Egyptian clothes) and we have a fancy dress evening later this week. Soon the air was full of flying packages as the traders threw samples up to us, 5 decks up. Again I wondered why we don’t see more Egyptian medallists in throwing competitions. After much haggling and hilarious sales banter (“I give you good ASDA price!”), a price was agreed. I can honestly say I’ve never had a more entertaining haggling experience ever. And most of us ended up kitted out for the party.
Tomorrow I’ll cover our visit to the Temple of Kom Ombo and the last part of our travels to Aswan – pt 5.