Friday, October 3, 2008

"The monuments and felucca ride were great but, GET US OUT OF HERE"

Thanks to our overly luxurious, 18 and a half hour train ride the day before, waking up at 2:30am the next day, seemed the most fitting way to begin day two in Aswan. At such an hour what awaited us was a 3 hour drive to the world renown Abu Simbel, and a boxed breakfast our hotel so conveniently put together for us.
Let's talk about the box breakfast first. This cardboard lunch box, consisted of a hard boiled egg, a warm Tang juice box, and three rolls so tightly saran wrapped that if something had happened to us on the three hour police convoy, it could have been used as a weapon. From first glance you would never be able to tell that this baseball of yeast was bread, let alone 3 separate rolls. The only reason I knew this was because, what else did I have to do. Sleep? Yea right! We were headed directly in the direction of the 15 person kidnapping that happened no more than 5 days earlier. Sleep was not an option, realizing my natural weapons, Bear Grylls style i.e. the “bread baseball” was.
Now for the van ride. This tin can was like the United Nations. Everyone spoke a different language, and only their native tongue, including the driver. This posed many issues, which will be explained later. To make matters stranger a French family was so unhappy with this arrangement that after boarding from their hotel, they demanded to be let off a block later. (To the best of my French translation) What can you expect, they aren't called the French for nothing. Finally after the three hour bus ride in which it went from night to day, leading to our van heating up like an oven, and the driver not understanding air con being yelled at him in 6 different languages, we made it to Abu Simbel.
This to me was one of the coolest monuments yet mainly because it was moved from being completely underwater, and also roughly 4500 years old. However, after we had our 30 minutes of Indian Jones time where I looked for secret passages, and Derek yelled at me to stop touching, we got back on the bus for the three hour ride back to Aswan.
That is where we met our felucca Captain, Ali and his first mate Muhammad, easily remembered because when put together it created..... Our Captain Ali was, 60 yrs old, about 6-3, 145lbs, and had roughly 3 teeth in his entire mouth. This dental fact was easily noticed, presumably because, he was always smiling. I mean if my job for the past twenty years was sailing up and down the Nile, I’d imagine I too would always be smiling, I'd just hope to have a few more teeth in my mouth. Anyway, we boarded and were off, just Derek, myself, and our two sailors on essentially a 25 ft. sail boat. To make matters even better they both spoke surprisingly good English. Once on the Nile we had the pleasure of listing to Ali’s favorite cheesy American music, had many laughs, and found it very funny how interested Ali was to talk to Derek about Scandinavia and the beautiful women who populate it. The Felucca ride truly saved the trip. No, hustlers, great company, and nothing to do but relax. Just enjoying the beautiful surroundings. If you wonder about the bathrooms....Nature was the answer, which was a HUGE step up from the train. The only down side was the "Egyptian meat". I thought it was for the stray dogs that sparsely lined the coast. Wrong!
After two days of real relaxation, we got off the boat, said our good byes, and got in another United Nations-esk van, where everyone spoke some dialect of English and felt the same way about Egypt. "The monuments and felucca ride were great but, GET US OUT OF HERE".

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