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AN ISLAND TEMPLE, A COLORFUL VILLAGE & A FELUCCA ON THE NILE

ASWAN, EGYPT

sunny

OCTOBER 21ST 2019 DAY 10

Well as predicted, I didn't get much sleep, the constant tapping of the blind against the window kept me awake!

Breakfast is served and it is actually pretty good, pastries, who doesn't like pastries!

Farms pass by as I sit in the lounge car chilling!

The train arrives in Aswan mid morning and I am surprised how modern the station is!

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We made it!

There is a bus waiting for us, but it would have been easier to walk to the hotel, as Aswan seems to be a system of one way streets and they are narrow.

The hotel seems quite nice, very fancy, the lobby is marble floors with old colonial styling. Once we have our room keys we head on up, I have yet another new roommate, as my train companion has paid the extra for the single supplement, but I know her Verta has been with since Jordan and is a really nice girl.

The room in no way lives up the expectations the reception set. It is small and it takes a call from the reception to get the air conditioning working.

We have the rest of the morning to relax and so I get some washing done, the little balcony with the view of well the next door hotel is perfect to dry the much needed clothes.

We all meet in the lobby and walk down to the river. We jump back in the bus for a short drive to the river entry for a boat ride to Philae Temple!

When arrive at the river entrance once again we are inundated with traders and their trinkets, but these guys are very persistent and do not take a polite no for an answer!

It is a relief when we have our tickets and go thru the gate.

Along the dock boats are moored and we hop on board our own little river vessel!

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Off we go!

This is our first boat ride, excluding the nightmare ferry from Jordan.

What a nice way to start the afternoon! It is lovely to be out on the water, especially on such a hot day, it seems the further south we go the hotter it becomes.

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On the Nile, at last!

As we get further out into the Nile we get a great view of the little Nubian village, with its lovely painted houses and traditional arched windows and stone architecture.

What a contrast the pretty little village and the sparking waters of t he Nile are when you see the dry, harsh desert that lays beyond.

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The little Nubian Village!
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Riverside views!

The temple comes into view, it sits on a little island in the middle of the Nile as it widens out.

The island of Agilkiat is actually in the reservoir of the Aswan Low Dam, downstream of the large Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser, this area was flooded when they built the Aswan Dam in 1902. When the building work of the Low Dam was completed in 1970, the temple complex was dismantled and move to the island by UNESCO to save it from being flooded.

Glad they saved it, we should never loose our history for modern life! While I understand that water is an important global resource, loosing beautiful historic sites is a tragedy!

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First glimpse!

The boat takes us a long the side of the temple and we get our first view of the lotus pillars and large hieroglyphs on the towers.

WOW our first temple and this is said to be the burial site of the god Osiris, the god of fertility , agriculture, the afterlife, the dead, resurrection, life, and vegetation... jeez he was one busy god!

I can't wait to go inside!

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They moved that brick by brick, impressive!

We come around a bend in the river and the front of the temple comes into view, it is impressive, it is bigger than you first think.

The boat is a queue to dock which is fine by me as it gives us a chance to study it from below, large carvings cover the upper walls and the pillars are so ornate!

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WOW, those carvings!

Once we dock a wooden dock sways under foot, the temple looms above and we head up a set of stone stairs to the entrance.

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A little info before we head in!

When you enter a large court yard opens up, lotus pillars line the sides, when you look up giant figures of Horus and Isis are carved on the outer wall.

Isis is Horus mother, she is one of the most important figures in the ancient world, she is the giver of life, a healer and protector of kings.

She he was associated with funeral rites and said to have made the first mummy from the dismembered parts of Osiris.

She was the enchantress who resurrected Osiris her husband, oh and brother and gave birth to Horus.

To the Egyptians she was known as “Mother of God”, to the Egyptians she represented the ideal wife and mother; loving, devoted, and caring.

Philae Temple is dedicated to her, but her cult like following spread throughout the Mediterranean world and, during the Roman period, extended as far as northern Europe. There was even a temple dedicated to her in London. She was a popular lady!

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Isis & Horus!

After a brief stop in what is called the principal court are small temples, we enter what is the first hypo-style hall and light shines thru open ceiling and the side openings. It is surprisingly cool inside, a relief from the dry heat outside.

Every wall is covered with Hieroglyph, some still have a light touch of color, 8 large pillars dominate the center of the room, decorated to resemble the lotus flower, is a symbol of the sun, of creation and rebirth because at night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again.

Mo is showing us the little christian shrine, in the 4th century Christianity was making an appearance in Egypt and at first the 2 religions coexisted, but by mid 5th century worshiping of the Egyptian gods was considered pagan and outlawed, but somehow traditional worship at Philae appears to have survived despite the anti pagan persecutions by the Roman Empire.

But my attention is side tracked by a little grey stray kitten, so I sit at the base of one of the pillars with this skinny sweet thing and it climbs on to my lap, poor little thing just wants a bit of affection, I really wish I had something for it to eat.

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Lotus Pillars!

Mo leaves us to explore, so I make my way into the small temple rooms, there are 4 entrances that lead you thru to inner sanctum. Every inch of the walls and ceilings are decorated, but the one thing that stands out as you enter is the Winged Isis above the door.

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Entrance to the inner temple!

Entering the first antechamber, it is hard to know where to look, scenes of the Egyptian gods and hieroglyphs surround you, the most prominent are Isis, Osiris and Horus. Telling their life story, the story of the Pharaoh Nekhtnebef in the 13th and last native dynasty.

It truly is spectacular!

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Amazing, they survived being under water!
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Winged Isis!

Slowly I make my way around the little antechambers, there is just so much detail, you can't take it all in. The Second antechamber, the walls are row after row of hieroglyphics and cartouche (encircled hieroglyphs representing names).

The time it must have taken to do these intricate little details, you can't help but admire the patient and skill it took to do, and not just on the walls!

The next antechamber is just as spectacular, the images are stunning, you could spend days in each room alone just reading about the life of the gods.

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What a story these walls must tell!
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Bringing offerings!

You really get an understanding of how strongly they revered and worship their deities, in the care they took to create such fantastically beautiful places like Philae as a place of worship..

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Not sure whose cartouche that is!
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I think that is Horus in his Falcon form!

Once it has become less crowded I finally go into the Sanctuary House.

The images here are different, large detailed and life like, they even have... well lets just say it body fat!

Hathors image is dominate feature , the mother goddess, she was the daughter of Ra and the wife of Horus,

The goddess of women, love, beauty, pleasure, and music.

But she had a bit of a dark side, it was believed that Ra sent her to punish the human race for its wickedness, but Hathor wreaked such bloody havoc on earth that Ra was horrified and determined to bring her back.

He tricked her by preparing vast quantities of beer mixed with mandrake and the blood of the slain.

Murdering mankind was thirsty work, and when Hathor drank the beer she became so intoxicated that she could not continue the slaughter.

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Goddess Hathor!

There are other gods & goddess on the walls, Anubis, Horus, Osiris, but the one that stands out has the face of a Lion, she is striking, Tefnut, the goddess of moisture, dew and rain... oh OK!

She is another of Ra's daughters and married her twin brother Shu the god of peace, lions, air, and wind.

Ummm there seems to be a lot of inter family marriage among the Egyptian gods... a bit creepy but!

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Goddess Tefnut!

I head outside and head out thru the courtyard, I walk under the eaves, every pillar is ornately decorated decorated with musicians and even little monkeys.

This being Hathors temple it makes sense that there are scenes of joy and well partying as she was the goddess of pleasure and music.

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Pillars in the Temple of Hathor!

Walking around the outside you get great views of the engravings on the upper towers, they are scenes of a pharaoh and wearing the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt he is smiting his enemies in front of Isis and Nephthys, Horus and Hathor.

Egyptian deities are engraved in rows along the upper walls, they seem to be seated, I can make out Horus in his Falcon form but that's about it.

I really gotta learn more about who these gods are, need to get a book!

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Outer Walls!

I head over to the Kiosk of Trajan, with its floral pillars, 14 of them! I wonder why it's called a kiosk?

The emperor Trajan (AD 98-117) is depicted burning incense in front of Osiris and Isis and offering wine to Isis and Horus.

Isis was worshiped by Egyptians and the Nubian people.

Amazing tales were told of her magical powers. It was believed that her knowledge of secret formulae had brought life back to her husband Osiris and that her spells had saved her son Horus from the bite of a poisonous snake.

She was the protector of all, countless visitors came to the island, where the priests in white robes would make their way into the temple of Isis with incense and burnt offerings. The statue of the goddess would be ceremoniously washed, clothed and adorned. Service after service, ritual after ritual, with humility, chanting and prayer, she would be suitably appealed to and adored until such time as she was undressed, washed again, de-robed and replaced in the sanctuary until the following morning.

If these visitors were lucky they could view the image of the goddess during the spring and autumn festivals in her honor. This was when the death and resurrection of Osiris was enacted... It was Isis who found the body of her husband that had been locked in a chest and thrown into the Nile by his wicked brother Set. She made Osiris body whole again thru spells and prayer to the Sun God Ra.

It was believed that her single tear, shed for Osiris, caused the annual flood, which brought life to the land.

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Kiosk of Trajan!

Inside the pillars are even more ornate, and every wall is has been decorated with scenes of worship to Isis. It sits on the river edge with a great view of the temple.

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14 lotus pillars!
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Very decorative on the inside too!

I find this block with funny looking fat guy on it. He looks like mischief... big ears and a curly long beard.

He is the god Bes a dwarf like figure, he represents good times and entertainment, but was also considered a
guardian god of childbirth. Bes chased away demons of the night and guarded people from dangerous animals.

He looks like fun, I like him!

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The god of entertainment Bes!

I take walk around the outside taking in the views of the giant carvings on the towers, and just enjoying have some time to myself.

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Glad they rescued this temple it is amazing!

It is so hot outside that I head back into the main temple and explore a little more.

There are little side halls that over look the river, like large windows. It is nice to spend a little more time inside now that most of the crowds have gone.

I just can't get over how fantastic the artistry is in the writings!

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Don't fall in... actually a swim would be nice about now!

I bump into the wives Zoe and Hannie and we head to the gift shop, there isn't much to see except for cats of all colors lazing in the shade or wandering thru. so we find a seat under a tree at the cafe and have a cold drink with a lovely view of the Nile.

Mo finally rounds everyone up and we hope into our boat and watch Philae temple disappear out of view!

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Philae Temple, a fantastic place to visit!

When we arrive back at the dock. We say goodbye to the cool river water and we are once again inundated by the street vendors, once on land and it gets a little too much so we seek sanctuary in the bus.

But that sanctuary is soon broken when yet another argument breaks out about tomorrows activities, why do they care so much that we don't want to spend so much to visit the temple it's no one else's business but our own and when the wives tell them just that the usual pair get offended (yeap it's miss bossy from the ferry terminal, she now has an ally!), if you don't want to argue don't start one! I feel sorry for Mohammad being stuck in the middle of it all!

For those of us not going to Abu Simbel Mo asks what we would like to do for the day and suggests a visit to a Nubian village, it sounds like fun a day out with the girls.

The mid afternoon heat is too much so I have a little rest before meeting up with the girls to explore the city.

We head out down the market street, I love the perfect little pyramids of spices in a myriad of colors. The big baskets of dried Hibiscus smell lovely and sweet.

The further own we go the constant pesky "you buy" "come into my shop" "I give you good deal" puts a damper on our shopping mood, pity as the street is quite pretty with lanterns and colorful banners hanging over head, it would have been nice just to wander about and take photos.

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Hmm... they do smell delicious!
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Go nuts!
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Hibiscus Tea!
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The corner market!
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Dates, dates... oh and more dates!

We meet up with the group at a local cafe, and sit outside, we are trying to figure out what to have for dinner, when Hannie spots a pizza place across the road, so we brave the busy road and get something to eat.

We take it back to the cafe and watch the craziness of the traffic.

I chat to Mo and feel I have to apologize for what happened on the bus, he seems a little embarrassed by it all.

We are last ones to leave as the others have to be up at 1.30 am (it's bad enough I have to get up at unholy hours of the morning for work, I ain't doing it on my holidays!)

We get to sleep in, with Mohammad's help we have made other plans!

OCTOBER 22ND 2019 DAY 11

I heard my roomie leave and went straight back to sleep... Aaahhh a sleep in!

I head down for breakfast, it is OK, eggs, fresh fruit, and eggs... of course coffee! The girls arrive and I admit it's nice being just us! No drama, a hassle free day!

Mohammad has arranged for us to sail on a Felucca to a Nubian village up river. Yesterday he introduced to one of the deck hands and we got all the info we needed for this morning.

We walk down to the water front it is teaming with boats, our Felucca is the one decorated with colorful flowers and is easy to spot among the crowd of boats.

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Our Nile oasis for the day!

We are greeted by JJ our captain, or as he is known in Aswan the 'Rastafarian Captain' apparently he used to have dreadlocks!

He is a friendly smiling man in traditional white robes, and easily likeable.

We sit back relax and enjoy the river breeze. As we slowly sail up the Nile JJ tells is about Nubian life and how different it is from the Egyptians. The Nubian's originated central north Africa, near Sudan. At first life was difficult in Egypt but over the course of history they embraced education and business to become an important part of Egyptian life and culture.

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JJ, the best Felucca captain in Egypt!

It is so lovely out here, a cool breeze, sunshine and passing boats.

The views are fantastic, the noisy bustling city of Aswan seems so calm and quiet from the middle of the Nile... reality check... I am sailing on the Nile!... Where for thousands of years, explorers, Pharaohs and Cleopatra herself once sailed, that is awesome!

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On the Nile, what a way to spend the day!

As we leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind.

The modern mixes with the old factories, water towers and house line the river bank, we pass by the Mosque and a christian church with large curved arches and dome roof.

Sail boats pass us by silently gliding thru the waters.

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I wonder if Cleopatra's boat looked a little something like that!
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Take away the high rises and this could quite the view!

As we sail up the middle of the river and JJ points out our Felucca boat for our overnight sail to Luxor.

The Felucca looks amazing, we will be sleeping on the covered deck, wow it is going to be great, can't wait!

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Our Felucca for 2 days!

We stop so JJ can chat with the crew. The Felucca looks fantastic, the covered deck has been decorated with cushions and completely covered with soft mats, there will be plenty of space for us to stretch out.

We have the option to sit up on the roof deck to watch Egypt pass us by.

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WOW, We are spending the night on this!

As we sail to the west bank of the Nile we pass colorful little villages with shops right on the edge of the river.

They are so quaint surrounded by Date and Palm trees.

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Cute little riverside cafes!
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Village life on the Nile!

Continuing up river JJ begins to sail closer to the shore. and as we get closer to rocky bank he points out hieroglyphs carved into the surface of the smooth boulders.

They did this to mark the water levels, and to indicate where the water systems were built to water the farm land with the rising of Niles water level, oh they were a clever bunch!

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Hey buddy is that you inscribed up there!
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Survived for hundreds of years...
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... thru floods and they are still here!

We sail past an old colonial brick hotel, this is where Agatha Christie used to stay with her husband.

The Old Cataract Hotel is where she wrote 'Murder on the Nile', and they still have the suite where she stayed and wrote.

Built in 1899 it still has that old world charm and I bet it isn't cheap to stay there either!

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The Old Cataract Hotel!

The Nile splits in 2 as we sail past Elephantine Island with its ruins of the Nilometer. It was originally built to measure the Nile’s water levels and clarity during the annual flood season.

There was once the temples of Temple of Thutmose III and Amenhotep III on the island but sadly these were destroyed by Muhammad Ali when he took control over Egypt and enforced the Muslim religion throughout the country.

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Elephantine Island & the Nilometer!

Slowly the trees disappear and the desert takes over. Ruins of an ancient temple lay on the riverbank. I wonder what they are. But I content to chill in the boat instead of walking out in the hot sun for one day. There will be plenty more temples and tombs to visit on this trip!

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Temples appear lost to time!

The flow of the river is calm and relaxing. JJ navigates the Felucca thru large rocks and papyrus islands. Hotels and small villages dot the rivers edge, the dry desert sand looms like a large rolling hills behind, harsh and unforgiving.

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It's so nice out here...!

We sail thru what is a cataract the water swirls around the little stone islands and a small domed building sits high on a desert hill. It looks a little lonely up there. JJ points out that it is the Mausoleum of Mohammed Shah Aga Khan.

He was the spiritual leader of the Islamic, Ismailis Sect in India, he was hugely influential in the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan.

He was one of the richest man in the world, and when he injured his leg he was advise to visit Egypt as it would help in his recovery, he loved the country so much that he spent his winters in Aswan for his health and wanted to be buried here after his death.

So there is his last burial place. He does have a great view!

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Looking down at the beautiful Nile the Mausoleum of Mohammed Shah Aga Khan!

More of Egypt's crumbling history passes by as we wind thru the cataract, I try to figure it out what they are with the Nile map Mo gave us but they aren't listed.

So I just sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Weirdly domed brick houses line the river bank, JJ says the Nubian as the domes are a traditional way of building, helping to keep the inside cool... I really hope we are not bombarding him with too many questions, but he hasn't stopped smiling so that's a good sign!

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Temples, temples everywhere!
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Nubian... um houses?!

The river cataract begins to flow faster as the rocky islands become more in number. Palm trees and papyrus beds line the riverbank and smother the little islands. The golden sands of the western desert glow in stark contrast behind the lush green plantation, it really is quite idyllic and relaxing, is this how the Pharaohs felt as they sailed along the Nile surveying their kingdom.

We pass another Felucca this one full of tourists, and I really appreciate having JJ and his pretty Felucca to ourselves.

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What a way to spend the day!
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A landscape of contrasts!

After navigating our way out of the cataract we follow the west bank. Farmers are grazing their cows at the waters edge, grey Storks wander thru the marshes. There is even a Pied Kingfisher patiently staring at the river surface awaiting his next meal, it's good to see some wildlife.

The ancient Egyptians once inscribed Crocodiles or Hippos in their hieroglyphs but they haven't been seen in the Nile for a long time, which is a shame!

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The local live stock!
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Grey Heron!
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Black Hooded Heron!
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Wallowing solo!
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Pied Kingfisher on the hunt!

As Nubian houses and riverside cafes begin to appear, with their decorative architecture and colors.

Wish we had time to stop and have a riverside coffee!

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Riverside cafes, adding color to the landscape!

In places the desert has over taken and made it;s way to the Nile. But nature has it's way of surviving and the river bank is lined with lush green trees. The contrast between the 2 natural extremes is quite beautiful.

The Nile really does breathe life into the sands, and it is no wonder the Egyptians honored and respected it so much, they even had Gods dedicated to it.

Sobek! a crocodile god. He was a god of the Nile who brought fertility to the land, known as the “Lord of the Waters”

He was thought to have risen from the primeval waters of Nun to create the world and made the Nile from his sweat. One creation myth stated that Sobek laid eggs on the bank of the waters of Nun, thus creating the world.

There is also Hapi was the god of the annual flooding of the Nile which to the Egyptians was important as the floods deposited rich silt (fertile soil) on the river's banks, allowing the Egyptians to grow crops, he is typically depicted with a big belly and large drooping breasts, wearing a loincloth and ceremonial false beard.

There was also Khnum, depicted as a ram-headed man. He was a god of the cataracts, a potter, a creator god who guarded the source of the Nile. His sanctuary was said to be on Elephantine Island!

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The colors of the Nile!

We sail past a village that has been built high up on the desert hills. The work it must have taken to build up there!

The views from your house must be spectacular, although you wouldn't want to walk to work!

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Great views, but...!

We pass a stretch of beach, where the sands have taken over, the odd palm tree offers some shade, little colored boats lay upturned on the riverbank, I guess it is too hot for fishing in the middle of the day, I wander if there is much to catch in this great river, we are up stream from Cairo, so I am guessing the water is cleaner here...!

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Fisherman's day off!

Further along we pass what I like to call the local rest stop!

Camels laze or wander along the river bank, there isn't much shade here but they don't seem mind. Their owners are nowhere to be seen.

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Camel Rest Stop!

We sail around a bend in the river and the colorful Nubian Village comes into view. Unlike their Egyptian neighbors they really love bold decorations... the closer we get the more details you can see.

The buildings look fantastic each one has it's own individual colors and patterns.

I can't wait to explore!

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Oh WOW those colors...
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.... are so delightful!

The village is spread along the river, and they have built their homes right on the rocky bank.

The closer we get the more details you can see, the patterns and designs are so fantastic, they love to decorate their houses the colors are simple yet delightful , they have drawn shapes from their culture on the walls and arches of their houses, like boats, camels, stars and palms.

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How petty is that!
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And Camels just to make more authentic!

Where is everybody! The village seems empty from our view from the Felucca. The open air balconies that sit on the waters edge are empty.

JJ gives us a bit of a lesson in their traditional way of building, explaining that they build according to Nubian architecture from mud bricks which are a mixture of clay, water, hay, and sand. All of these materials are natural which make less prone to house diseases, are inexpensive, and the clay texture of the bricks is also less affected by heat.

Over each house, you will find a dome-shaped ceiling designed to distribute the sun’s heat equally throughout the inside of the house... we could do with more houses like this in Queensland save on the air conditioning bill!

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Even the boats are colorful!
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Imagine sitting out there in the evenings cold drink in hand!

We dock in front of a home that has been painted in every color of the rainbow. Shells and stones form the decorations on the wall, Palm trees, birds, stars and a crocodile over the door... hmm... OK!

As we climb the stairs up into the village center, you realize that every inch of the home has been decorated and painted, this home owner has taken such pride and care with every little detail.

JJ says each house is an extension of the families personality and creativeness... I love it!

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Quirky... but so fabulous!

JJ invites us to take a look at the homes back door and roof top balcony, and it is just as colorful and decorative as the front. So much love and attention has been put into this home it is difficult not be impressed by all the details.

And this is just the first house...

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Can we stay here... it's better than the hotel!

When you get to the top of the stairs the village opens up, there is a burst of color! Every home, shop, fence is painted and decorated. It is so pretty!

One home owner greets JJ and he proudly shows of his house, he is has a big smile as he encourages us to take photos.

The people are as colorful as their buildings, so friendly and welcoming!

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Proudly showing us his home!

We thank our smiling friend and make our way into the village.

It is so clean, not only are they proud of their homes but the village too. There isn't a scrap of rubbish to be seen and the sandy street is swept clean to perfection.

Your eyes are pulled in every direction as each building is so unique, you can't help but stop and admire each one.

Some are grander, some are larger, but even the humble smaller homes are decorated with such individual flare... I am so glad we decided to do this, the others don't know what they are missing.

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Large and....
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... small they are all beautiful!

From out of nowhere a group of elderly ladies in black traditional robes, seem to surround us. They are carrying baskets filled with trinkets, at first I will admit I was a little overwhelmed, but their cackles of laughter and big smiles are endearing.

They are selling handmade traditional Nubian dolls, and... well I can't resist!

So I pick the smallest and most senior of the ladies and purchase one from her. She is so sweet, she takes my hand and gives it big squeeze, smiling and nodding she says what I guess is thank you in Nubian. She doesn't have any change and insists she will find it, JJ is translating as quickly as he can, she is chatting a mile a minute! When I try to tell her 'no, its OK you keep' she adds a key ring with a small version of the doll. JJ says she insists I take it as a gift for I have made her happy. When I accept her little frail arms suddenly surround me in a hug.

She has big toothless grin and the cheeky sparkle in her eye, and she is delighted when I ask if I can take her photo and with another enthusiastic handshake tells me "I am Fatima, you are my new friend" I can't help it I love this women!

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The wonderful Fatima!

The ladies disperse and we wander further into the village, we find another group of ladies sitting on the docks with their feet in the water, chatting vividly among themselves, and they stop just long enough to look at us and then continue with what JJ calls their gossip session.

I can understand why they choose to sit at this spot, they have a fantastic view of the Nile and the east bank!

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The East Bank!

The village market opens up and it is so quaint. and vibrant, just like the rest of the village.

But unlike their Egyptian neighbors they don't rush out to encourage us to buy their products, instead we have the time to actually browse.

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The Local Market!

At the top of the street is a handsomely dressed Camel, he looks so adorable in his hand woven multi colored head piece and fancy saddle.

Rambo, his name is stitched on his saddle blanket, looks so chilled lounging in the sun. Do all Camels look like they are smiling, Rambo certainly does!

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Well, don't you look handsome!

Upon our approach Rambo simply looks at us and closes his eyes again. He is such a placid fellow, not at all living up to his name.

I love this guy he is awesome, he is such a happy dude!

He is happy to have a wee chin scratch, and with a look of total contentment we leave him to his nap.

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A very chillaxed Rambo!

On the corner is the local spice shop. The sweet smell in the air is divine! The owner has taken such pride with his produce.

There is such an amazing variety of colors, but when I ask about the bright blue it is actually a dye which they use in paint so is the yellow as are most of the perfect little peaks of powder.

I really wish I could take some home, but the Australians border restrictions wont allow it, it could be fun cooking with some of these ingredients.

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How amazing is that display!

A little further up to the top of the street we are invited into one of the homes. It is just as vibrant and decorative as the outside.

JJ shows us the live Crocodile that is kept underground... What?... Why?... I can certainly think of less dangerous pets!

It isn't huge, but still!

He explains that living and Crocodile’s body are highly admired in Nubian houses. The affection the Nubian people have for the Crocodile stems from the ancient Egyptian belief that the existence of a Crocodile will protect them & their household, the Nile crocodile was worshiped in the time of the pharaohs as evil, envy and war god named Sobek, and that’s why to them a mummified Crocodile will prevent evil from entering the household they and adopted it as a tradition. So that is why every house has a mummified Crocodile above the door... that explains why we have seen them everywhere!

We are invited to sit by a smiling shy women, then she disappears. Their living quarters are upstairs.

Every wall has a hand painted scene depicting traditional Nubian life, the guest area where we sitting is open and cool, a welcome relief from the outside heat!

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Wish I could paint like that!

We chat away for a while and our shy hostess comes back with a tray of cold drinks... oh yum Hibiscus tea!

JJ tries to answer all of our questions, but it is hard not be distracted by the interior, the dome ceiling is fantastic, every carefully placed brick has been painted and the effect is really beautiful, they really are very artistic!

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That's fantastic!

He tells us about family life he is very proud of his children and their education. I ask him about the native language I heard the group of women speaking, it sounded different to the traditional languages we heard in Jordan and the Egyptian cities. It is their own distinct Nubian Language, which is unique to their culture, language is that they do not learn to teach Nubian to outsiders.

Suddenly a dog appears from upstairs, the effort of making his way down colorfully painted staircase must have been a little too much as he flops down, rolls over and falls asleep not evening giving us a thought. Some guard dog! JJ assures us he does his job well at night.

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It's a hard life!

One thing I have noticed is, that unlike across the river the village is quiet, people aren't speaking with loud voices, no traffic noise... which is common for their way of life.

When you look out of the large open arch window the only thing you hear are the birds, it is so serene and peaceful, I can understand why JJ is so proud of heritage and traditions.

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The village from above!

It is time to say goodbye to our quiet hostess and her little house hold, admittedly these are the most well feed and loved pets I have seen in Egypt, their cat has totally ignored us the entire time. It is good to see that their are people in this country that show love to animals...!

She doesn't say much, just a thank you with a smile and a nod of her head.

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The most loved cat I have seen in Egypt!

We head back down into the village, but I just have to stop and say 'Hi' to Rambo who is still chilling out in the late morning sun.

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I love this guy, he's awesome!

I swear this guy is the happiest Camel ever. After yet another chin scratch we leave him to his mid morning nap!

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Rambo thinks I'm funny!

We walk thru the village, the ladies are still there chatting away.

There is amazing artwork painted on the walls and fences adding interest to every part of this beautiful little village.

The people are content you can see it on their faces. They greet each other as they pass, everyone knows everyone it is a tight knit community.

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Amazing artwork everywhere!

We head back to the Felucca and sail along the village water front. The ladies sitting on the river bank wave as we sail by.

Our stop is a cafe right on the river, the desert sands loom behind this colorful rest stop.

JJ tells us we will have lunch here, the food, he promises is very delicious, as it is owned by his cousin and his wife is a very good cook... well he hasn't been wrong yet!

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Our next stop, lunch!

JJ has to help us disembark as there is no dock just a set of concrete stairs, and I am not the most graceful or coordinated person, and I really don't fancy getting wet.

At the top an artist is working on a mural, according to JJ he is very famous in Nubian society for his artwork and travels all over the world to paint. He has done most of the artwork we saw in the village.

I wish we could see the final results of his work but somehow I don't think we will be here long enough, and sitting under a tree having a smoke, he doesn't seem to in hurry!

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It isn't finished yet!

We have the cafe to ourselves and we grab a table over looking the river. It is a lovely spot, the trees and bougainvillea provide shade from the midday heat.

It is nice to have the place to ourselves, the peace and quiet of the day has been a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the city crowds.

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A lovely spot to take a break!

Once lunch is ordered we sit, chat and enjoy the Nile views.

I ask JJ about Nubian history and culture, they were known by another name Kush, and they originated from the kingdom of Nubia, located along the Nile in southern Egypt and northern Sudan, a kingdom famously known for its rich deposits of gold.

They speak their own language and still wear the traditional robes, they were once famous warriors, well known for their archery skills, but today they are are well known for their cheerful songs and dances. I ask hm to give us an example and he shakes his head and laughs, "No me I cannot sing, my wife she can sing, very beautiful"

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Lunch views!

After lunch JJ asks us if we want to go for a swim, well we are shocked and we must have pulled faces and when he asks 'why not, what's wrong?' We tell him about the state of river in Cairo, the rubbish and the dirty waste pouring into the water. He laughs at us... "Oh that is Cairo, you are up river where the water is clean, it is safe to swim here!"

At first we are dubious, but with promises of 'you will be fine' we look at each other and say why not!

At first the water is a little cool and JJ was right is clean, the odd leaf and that's it. Once you get in and get used to it the temperature isn't at all bad, actually refreshing.

So we sit in the shallows and watch boats pass by, some of the local stare at us in either amazement or confusion, it's hard to know which.

A tour group of school girls sail by and the sight of western women bathing sends them into fits of giggles and whispered confusion. We just smile, and pretend they aren't staring!

It turns out the group of school girls are sharing our lunch spot and by the time they dock we are sitting back on land... yes in proper clothes. But somehow we still cause a stir, I am pretty sure it is Hannie and Zoe's blond hair that they find intriguing!

They are excited by our presence as they have not met western women before and fire questions at us "Where are you from?"... etc.

After a while they find the nerve to speak to us and insist on having a group photo with us. They are such vibrant lovely girls, typical teenagers all giggles and chatter!

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Making friends!

Sadly it is time to head back to Aswan, as the West Bank passes by we sit on the roof deck watching the landscape glide by.

There are these strange dome like structures clustered together. I have no idea what they are but, they are interesting, by there style I would guess they as Nubian...

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Interesting Structures!

We are sailing close to the river bank and we get a closer view of the Mohammed Shah Aga Khan, the small details of the dome and the walls, there are crumbling stairs from the river bank, it is larger than I first though.

No wonder his wife used it as a summer home, it does however need a little care and attention.

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A closer look!

It is so peaceful up here in the sun, the views of sailing Feluccas, ancient ruins, Palm Trees and stone complexes provide an idyllic backdrop for the sail back. Truth be told we don't want to go back to the city, we could stay out here for the rest of day... wonder if JJ can convinced!

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Idyllic Nile Views!

Slowly the Monastery of St. Simeon comes into view as we sail around a river bend.

The desert sands have taken over most of the ruins, we can only see some of the outer walls from our position on the river.

Founded in the 7th century and finally abandoned in the 13th century due to water shortages, it's one of the largest and best preserved Coptic monasteries in Egypt.

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A glimpse of the Monastery of St Simeon!

Following the cure of the river we pass more small villages, houses painted in bright colors, nestled among the trees. But these are different to the Nubian style of the village we visited... Egyptian?

They aren't as striking but still prettier than the beige brick homes of their East Bank neighbors.

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A village in progress!

Slowly we sail away from West Bank, the middle of the Nile begins to fill with boats.

Back in the shade of the lower deck we beg JJ to stay out on the river as long as possible, he laughs and says nothing.

But we are serious!

The view of the Tomb of Nobles, built into a stony desert hill, they are the Tombs of the Nobles, the final resting place of the officials who ran Aswan and controlled the lucrative trade with Nubia and Sudan.

Above it is a small dome building, 'Dome of the Wind' it is the tomb of an Islamic sheikh who built it above the Egyptian tombs.

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Tombs of the Nobles!

After a while we get a better view of the tombs, they , built into a stony desert hill. Long stair cases from the river bank to tomb entrances have been cut into the hillside. That is quite the climb!

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That is some set of stairs!

As we glide among the other sail boats the dock slowly gets closer, we try once again to convince JJ to stay out a little long at least until sunset.

But no matter how much we try we can't change his mind, he has to over see the arrangements for our sail tomorrow. While we understand, we are disappointed the tour is ending.

We reach the crowded dock, and how JJ maneuvers the the Felucca thru the chaos is beyond me.

It has been a great day and we can't thank him enough. He helps us clamber off the boat thru the crowds.

We really don't want to go back to the hotel so we take a walk along the river front.

We find a McDonalds (yeap I know!) it has a great view of the river so we find a table and relax with milkshakes and just watch the scenery sail by.

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Relaxing with a cold drink!

We watch a group of boys jumping off the dock, typical of boisterous teenagers.

Trust me to make a new furry friend, this little grey cat has made my lap it's refuge for a while. Zoe and Hannie think I am nuts, but I can't deny this little creature a little affection that is obviously craves.

As the dusk draws near more and more Feluccas are out for a sail their colorful sails flap in the slight breeze. It is a lovely sight, now wonder Agatha Christie found inspiration here in Aswan.

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Take us with you!

Our perfect position on the river bank has given us a great view of the Tombs of the Nobles and as the sun begins to set the hill side lights up. Giving the sand an orange glow. The little dome stands above it all like a sentinel standing guard, whoever is buried there chose a perfect spot.

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The Tombs of the Nobles what a great view from here!

The sky glows gold as the sun sinks behind the Western Desert.

The Feluccas reflections ripple on the Nile surface, so far this is my favorite part of the Egyptian tour. Our stop inAswan has been fantastic.

This beautiful sunset is the perfect end to a lovely day.

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A Fantastic Golden Sunset!

Once the sunsets the air gets a little chilly, so after a quick stop at the money machine we head back to the hotel.

WE stop and chat with the others who are back from Abu Simbel.

Turns out because of the festival they didn't get to see the rise hit the famous statues of Ramses II, which was the reason for the 1.30am departure, it was so crowded they couldn't get close enough and they are a little disappointed, but the temple was amazing.

To be honest I think we had the better day!

After a hot shower I meet up with my fellow wives and we head out for dinner, a first we thought we would try somewhere new, but the search became tiring because of the constant harassment. So we head back to what we know, our little pizza joint and sit at the same cafe as last night.

The traffic is just as crazy as yesterday, actually I think it is worse! But watching these crazies trying to maneuver with out road rules is entertaining.

It gets late and we head back to the hotel. My roomie is already asleep when I arrive back to the room.

I can't wait for tomorrow... tomorrow we sail the Nile!

OCTOBER 23RD 2019 DAY 12

After a welcome sleep and with bags packed we head down to breakfast.

Typical of the wives we are the last to be rounded up and we follow Mo the river front where our Felucca awaits.

There is a lot of chatter by the others but we have already been introduced to our home for the next 2 days and JJ is there to see us off. He is leaving us with a crew and won't be joining us no matter how hard we try to convince him.

Once on board we find a spot on the soft mattress floor, make our little corner comfortable and with legs dangling over the side settle in for the sail down the Nile.

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Settled in for the days sail!

The crew put on a lovely lunch, fresh salad , warm bread and dips. It is laid out in the center of the boat and we sit and eat our own leisurely pace. There are cold drinks available, we just write it on the list.

With lunch over there is nothing more to do, to watch Egypt pass us by. The views are fantastic, I love how the green of riverbank winds thru the countryside bring life to the desert.

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Oohh wonder what that is!

We head up to the top deck, well it's the roof of the boat and laze in the sun, the sail swings back and forth in the river breeze, admittedly nearly missing our heads! But we soon get used it and relax... this is the life... I could used to this!

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Mind your head!

Towns and villages pass by, the one constant is the desert, even on the East bank it looms in the distance.

Every settlement we pass has a Mosque the towering minarets where the call to prayer can be heard from for miles around.

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Village mosques...
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... in every village!

Cruise boats filled with tourists make wave as as they pass. I like that we have this pretty little Felucca to ourselves.

Fishermen are out in their little boats, other white sailed Felucca glide by.

The Nile is quite a busy through fare it is beautiful the life line of Egypt.

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Nile catch up session!

As the afternoon air heats up it becomes too hot to stay on the roof so I head back down.

My spot is next to the rudder, it is solid wood made of an entire tree trunk.

I watch the staff maneuver it as if it was light as a feather. How do they know when to catch the breeze, when I ask he just smiles and "I make this trip many times, I know where all the sandy banks are!"... sand banks what sand banks?

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They make it look easy!

Slowly we make it to our village stop for the night, passing more small towns along the way. The rest of the afternoon is spent relaxing, somehow it is tiring doing nothing.

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Small towns...
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... Desert views...
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... Mosque minarets!

We arrive at our stop for the night and the staff anchor on a sandy beach. We take our day packs and walk up to the village. It is painted like the one we visited, the colors are not as bright but the decorations and artwork are on every home. The sandy streets are swept clean and there is not a scrap of rubbish in sight.

Mo introduces us to our host family, we are staying in a home stay for the night. The ladies are shy and quiet. and show us around. The home has a large open air court yard, the room we are sleeping in is filled with beds and big woolen blankets.

The ladies disappear into the kitchen and Mo takes us for a walk up thru the village out into the desert.

With the setting sun the sky turns a dusty grey and pink, from the top of the hill you get a sweeping view of the village below and the Nile valley.

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The Nile Valley!
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Village Views!
We walk thru the desert sand and find a road that leads out into the vastness of the sand, where on earth does it go? What could be out there? Surely no one would live out there!

Luckily for us we take the road back into the village and when we arrive at our home stay a picnic blanket has be laid out and set up for dinner.

Our hostess invites us to sit and with Mo's translating she tells us what we are having for dinner and that all the ingredients are farmed in the local area.

It is a 3 course feast, starting with soup and fresh bread. Then pan fried chicken, stuffed vine leaves in a spicy tomato sauce and fresh salad. For desert there is fresh fruit and a vanilla pudding type dish, which is delicious!

In fact the entire meal is fantastic.

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A Nubian Feast!

With full bellies we help clear away the dishes, but we are shooed away, but no one but family is allowed in her kitchen to help with the dishes.

I go for a little wander outside the main walls to look at the art work and I meet 3 lovely young ladies, we sit on a wall and chat, they fire questions at me about my life as I am one of the first westerners they have met. They don't know where New Zealand is and vow to look it up on a map, they ask me if it is near Egypt and I draw in the sand... badly, where I come from. They are learning English in school and it is pretty good, they giggle when I compliment them on it.

Suddenly a women's voice fills the night air, it must be Mum because with a flurry of thank yous they dash out of sight.

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Such lovely young ladies!

Our hostess offers to do henna tattoos for us, she has a book and we can choose our design, of course most of us can't resist... hmmm... decisions, decisions... the eye of Horus, it well-being, healing, and protection, why not!

She gives us strict instructions not touch it until it is dry, and no shower until the morning... um OK!

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My henna tattoo, the Eye of Horus!

The night air is becoming chilly so I decide to go to bed, I try to fall asleep before all the snoring starts, but for some reason I just can't. Luckily I have ear plugs that drown out most of the symphony of snores that are coming from certain areas of the room.

After a while I finally relax and fall asleep!

The desert sands slowly change color with the setting sun. From beige to copper, it is stonier than I thought and it goes on for what seems endlessly.

We stop and watch the sunset, the sky lights up bright orange as if on fire, when you see sunsets like this I can understand why the Egyptians believed in the king of the gods, the Sun God Amun-Ra, this certainly is beautiful display of his power!

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My henna tattoo, the Eye of Horus!

OCTOBER 24th 2019 DAY 13

Admittedly I did not sleep well, for some reason I just couldn't get warm, I had plenty of blankets... the more I tried to sleep the less I could.

Breakfast is laid out picnic style like last night, fresh bread, boiled eggs, fruit, and most importantly coffee!

It seems I am not the only one who had trouble sleeping there are a few blurry eyed tourists this morning.

A warm shower helps a little and after thanking our lovely hostess and her family we head back to the Felucca.

In my little corner I settle in and relax ready for the days sail!

After a little mid morning nap I wake to find we are still in the Aswan area as we have just past the modern Aswan bridge.

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Aswan Bridge!

Along this stretch of the Nile there is a lot of farm land. As I watch it go by I wonder what temples sit out there.

The wives and I spend the morning chilling, it is nice to have time to relax before we get to the city again.

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Lazy Nile Morning!

Lunch is fantastic, fresh hummus and yogurt dips, and a lovely chicken dish, which I would love the recipe for, how on earth did they manage to cook this on just a little camping stove, for 16 people!

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Delicious Lunch Spread!

As we get closer to Luxor the desert seems to take over, the lush river side vegetation struggles to grow.

This part of the Nile seems quieter, there are less cruise boats out this afternoon. Sometimes it seems like we are the only ones out here.

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The desert meets the Nile!

The afternoon is much like the morning, legs dangling over the side of the boat, relaxing.

We stop in the late afternoon and they anchor the boat on a sandy shore. We get to stretch our legs and take a swim.

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Tonight we will sleep on our little Felucca!

The dusk brings farmers and their donkeys down to the waters edge, I feel sorry for the poor donkeys they really are hard working animals thee farmers seem to show a little more care towards them than what we saw in Cairo, but they always seem to look sad.

They stare at the crazy westerners in bewilderment. It is nice to stretch the legs, although the water is a little cool it is nice to have a swim after such hot day.

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The hardest workers in Egypt!

We are staying here for a while, to catch the sunset. On the East bank there is the presence of life a small village is tucked among the palms.

Slowly more and more boats appear, with the cooling of the day the Egyptians become more active, don't blame them really I don't like working in the midday heat either!

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More little towns!

The water becomes a little too cool, so we head up to the roof to catch the last of the evening sun, to get away from the usual complainers, don't know what they have to moan about today has been lovely, you just can't please some people.

Plus we get a great view from up here, as the sun begins to set on another day.

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Enjoy the view ladies!

As the sun descends behind the Western desert the landscape begins to glow and the sky line slow turns from dusky grey to bright yellow, I wish the photos did it justice!

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The colors are stunning!

The sky blazes a golden orange as the sun disappears behind the palms.

.With the evening the cruise ships are making their way up and down the Nile so the smaller boats like ours must anchor for the night. This is to avoid accidents, this is fine by me.

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Another glorious Sunset!

The crew put on another fantastic meal, fresh salad, rice and grilled chicken, with a seasoning I really wish I knew what it is, it is bloody lovely!

And chocolate cake for desert... !

We settle in for the night and chat till we fall asleep. The night air is chilly but the thick woolen blankets that the crew have provided keep me snuggled and warm.

Tomorrow we arrive in Luxor!

Posted by TracingTheWorld 04:19 Archived in Egypt

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