“Where’s Reggie?” We’ve got cats jumpin’ off walls & crazy taxi rides…
Wednesday, May 5th 2010: Edfu, Esna & Luxor, Egypt
By now the days began to run into each other. It was hard to remember what day of the week it was, and what day we had done which activities. In our first meeting, Sherif had warned us that the beginning of the trip would be more fast-paced while we were still ‘fresh’ and by the end of the week it would slow down and we would tire and slow down with it. This morning we were the ‘Drunktiki’ tour group, with some recovering from the party the night before and some catching some zzz’s on the bus. Nevertheless, we were on our way to see the Temple of Horus. On a side note, that I must mention, Reggie was missing… again. He was missing on a regular basis the whole week, and it became a running joke every time we got on the bus since we had a handful of delays that were as a result of the question “Where’s Reggie?”
At the temple, we followed Sherif and weaved our way through crowds, hallways, corridors, and in and out of rooms. Just like Kom Ombo, the walls were carved with hieroglyphs from floor to ceiling. And though we had seen many walls of ancient writing and symbols that week, the detailed work was still amazing to see. The top of almost every column we’d seen was constructed in a flower-like shape to resemble that of a Lotus opening and growing toward the sun. The walls seemed to glow an eerie green, and there were cracks and window-like openings where beams of light would pour into some of the dark pathways. We were all amused to see the cat that was quietly following our group for a while, and then we were surprised to see it suddenly leap up an adjacent wall and snatch a small bird from its perch. The cat’s breakfast certainly created no shortage in the number of small birds that chirped and chattered in a scramble over our heads (just like at Abu Simbel).
Driving back to the boat, we saw more of the everyday backdrop as we passed by local shops and watched people in their normal routines go by. We got to the temple pretty early, so we made it back to the boat with enough time to have breakfast and relax for a bit as we continued our cruise up to Luxor. It was a good time to catch up on some sleep, so I sat on the balcony for a while and then knocked out for a few hours. I woke up to the sound of distant boat horns and splashing and laughing. Stepping back out onto the balcony, I saw that there were boys in the water swimming and laughing with (or at) the foreigners on the boat. Then I remember noticing that everything seemed a lot ‘closer’ than usual. I also noticed that I could have easily climbed off the balcony and onto the land that was slowly passing by if I wanted to. I went up to the top deck in time to see that we were coming up to the Esna Water Locks, where each boat passes through a space of water one at a time and a set of gates or ‘locks’ (in front and behind) close allowing the water level to fall and lowering the boat with it.
We had lunch then docked in Luxor and bussed it around the town to see more of the sights before stopping at an art gallery. We watched a demonstration of how to make papyrus from the actual plant and had a lot of time to peruse the artwork that were all for sale. There were many that were done on papyrus, and a popular medium seemed to be oil paints and watercolours. The subjects of the paintings were mostly focused on pharaohs and royalty, zodiac signs and paintings you could personalize with your name in hieroglyphic symbols surrounded by a cartouche. The pictures of the pharaohs and queens were embellished with shimmery gold or silver paint for their headdress or pieces of jewellery. I was particularly drawn to the pieces done by an artist, M. Okasha, whose artwork primarily consisted of Egyptian landscape scenes in watercolour on both papyrus and canvas. He had paintings of the Pyramids, the Sphinx and camels in the desert, but my favourite were of feluccas on the river.
Once everyone had made their purchases, we were ready to head over to the Temple of Luxor. Sherif waited until after sunset to bring us to this particular temple because the lighting at night makes it that much better to see. Standing to the side of the temple, you can get a clear picture-perfect shot of the temple with the obelisk and the Valley of the Kings off in the far distance. The evening had cooled off after sunset and the sky was coloured with waves of pink and purple into dark blue. It was a beautiful mix of colour with the whites and yellow lighting on the temple walls. People milled through the open structure and it was amusing to see a lot of them leaning back to look up at some of the tall statues and the obelisk. We stood in the square pavilion where Sherif told us Luciano Pavarotti had performed the year before for an ‘upper crust’ crowd, and tickets sold for four-digit prices. Once the sky was completely dark, the lighting was even better and this temple makes for the best photo ops of them all.
After we left, Sherif suggested an outing to a nearby bar/pub type place on the Nile. We went back to the boat to drop off a couple people and the rest of us piled into two taxis and were off again. The friendly race our taxi drivers got into on the way was a small adventure in itself, and as we sailed through a red light it reminded me of driving in Jamaica. But we all got there in one piece. The lot of us sat around a long table, we placed drink orders for a couple Stellas (of course) and some tea and the sheesha pipes were brought out. I still found it hard to believe that each pipe was only 15 E₤ (USD$3!). We were right on the water next to several boats that were docked a little way down, and there were lights off in the distance but I couldn’t make out what they were. Some TVs were on providing a football game (goal not touchdown) as background noise, but it was mostly drowned out by all the chatter and laughing. We puffed on apple flavoured sheesha and sipped on our drinks for a while and then headed back, exhausted again and ready for bed.
Tonight was our last night on the ship and I wasn’t looking forward to the over train ride back, but I tried not to focus on it….