01 March 2013

Late start due to wedding
coffee
phone issues
meeting Ibrahim for tea
ferry issues
Elephantine Island
Church
rest and dinner

This morning we asked if the noise last night was a wedding or not.  If it was a wedding, no problem, if it is normal, we would like a new room.  It did turn out to be a Nubian wedding, so we will stay where we are for now.

Massive Coptic church overlooking the Nile

Massive Coptic church overlooking the Nile

Finding a nice coffee shop on the corner, we downed some strong Turkish coffee to wake up a bit, and tried to call the guys from last night.  I got Abrihem on the phone for about 10 seconds before my credit ran out, so had to go and buy some more.  I ended up needing a charger as well.  We had delaying this for too long, and now I needed one, it ended up costing way more than it should have, and it was Friday morning with only one shop open.  Back at the hotel, we started charging it up to call the others again.  Trying to recall him, I asked where he was, and he replied “behind you”.  Turning around, there he was!  So we headed out for tea at his uncles place.  This was a really nice pontoon cafe restaurant right on the waters edge, opposite the Movenpick hotel.  A very nice place.  Sitting there talking was a pleasure, but we needed to do something today!  Although I wouldn’t have had an objection to staying there.

On the island are two Nubian villages

On the island are two Nubian villages

We wanted to go to Elephantine Island to see the museum and ruins on the island, and tried to find the ferry.  Ibrahim came with us, and we hoped he was a bit shocked when the first ferry landing wanted to charge us 10LE to cross one way.  EACH!  The guy was even arrogant enough to say 1LE for Egyptians and 10LE for tourists.  Standard price.  (Even though Egyptians pay 25piastas)  We walked back to the other ferry landing, and got it for 2LE each.  Still a rip-off (but AU$1 for the three of us, so you can only complain in principal).  The ferry was segregated with the women at the front, and men at the back.  A quick trip of only about 50-100m took us to Aswan’s earliest settlement at the end of the first cataract.

Peaceful and traditional

Peaceful and traditional

On the island we were out of the noise of the city, and even though Aswan is fairly quiet, it was a treat.  Walking between the buildings in the shade of trees, and fields was wonderful compared to the dusty hot reflected sun on the other side.  Even though they were dirt tracks they even felt cleaner.

Quite alleyways, no cars.

Quite alleyways, no cars.

Love the colourful houses!

Love the colourful houses!

On making it to the archaeological site, we grabbed our tickets.  At least they let you know the museum was closed (since 2010), even if they didn’t change the ticket price.

The best remaining temple

The best remaining temple

The museum was the old house of the person that designed and built the original Aswan dam.  It is a quaint old colonial building, and we are glad to hear they are restoring it, even if we did not see much evidence of it.  Moving through the old garden we made it to the site.  Here we almost picked up a guide, but we got Abrihem to ditch the guide for us.  Unfortunately, he thought we wanted to ditch him as well.  That was far from the case, and we were glad to have him along.

Mostly mud brick structures

Mostly mud brick structures

The site is an old and important place, for trade and as a strategic staging point.  As such the temples have been constantly used, updated or rebuilt by a succession of Pharaohs.  Now there is very little left.  Plenty of remains of mud brick structures, and a few reconstructed temples that are more cement than stone.

Ancient artwork

Ancient artwork

Still where the cement is, they have tried to recreate the outline of the major pictures.  We also got to see one of the Nilometres on the island.  Basically a large square pool with a tunnel to the Nile at the bottom.

 

Nilometer

Nilometer

As the Nile floods, the pool fills up, and you can measure how high it rises.  From this you can estimate the productivity of the next year’s crop and set the taxes accordingly.  Abrihem is learning Hieroglyphs, and showed us a few different bits and pieces.
It was a fun way to spend the day.

E69postpano2E68postpano1

Back on the East bank, we had a few hours to get ready for dinner.  Basically getting off our feet.  Then we met up with Abrihem and Ahmed for dinner.

The kids paddle around in homemade canoes.

The kids paddle around in homemade canoes.

Before eating we had to walk along the Nile.  As it was a bit later then we were out yesterday, we got to see the east bank all lit up.  It is a stunning sight, with the tombs, paths and range all floodlit.  The contours of the land providing shadows and contrast.  Cane juice at one of their friends.  I have not had this since I was very young, and almost didn’t need dinner after such a large glass, but we managed to fit it in somehow.  A good meal, with good company.  Topped off by tea in a picturesque garden with fairy lights wrapped around all the trees.  Perfect.

AA

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