Dam Egypt

Trip Start Sep 16, 2003
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Trip End Sep 23, 2003


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Flag of Egypt  ,
Friday, September 19, 2003

We started the day today with a plane ride. We headed from the Cairo Airport to the Airport in Aswan. The plane ride was rather enjoyable. We were sitting next to a couple that was married in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. That is funny since we ran off to Italy to get married. Different but similar. 

We arrived in Aswan and took our bus to the Aswan Dam. This is an amazing feat of modern engineering. It provides enough energy for all of Egypt and they are selling that Energy to other countries like Greece. Because of security you are not allowed to video tape or use zoom lens while viewing the dam. This was our first view of the Nile.  Then it was off to the boat dock. Taking a river cruise on the Nile is not quite like catching a boat in Cape Carnival on a Disney Cruise Line. Our bus pulled through some narrow streets and let us off in a dirt parking lot. We then walked this narrow plank to board our ship. On board we were greeted by many members of the crew. The waited with warm towels to wipe the days muck off of our hands. They also had hibiscus tea to welcome us to the MS Orchid.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLbGdzXz3hA

The MS Orchid is a little dated but it added to the romance of cruising the Nile. It was almost like traveling during the hey day when very few could afford to visit the amazing sites on the Nile River.  


We settled into our room, cleaned up a bit and had a bite to eat and then headed out into Aswan to see the Aswan Quarry where the ancient Egyptians carved giant obelisk and carved stone for their amazing temples and pyramids. The heat is still stifling but it is worth the discomfort to be in the presence of such great pieces of history.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1yEQquoaA8

Kindness abounds from the people of Egypt. While exploring the quarry we were at the very top near a guard shack. There are tourist police everywhere. As we came to the top a strong breeze blew the hat right off of my head. My hat flew down into this huge cavern that had been carved out by Egyptians 1000 of years ago. One of the guards climbed down the side of the rock hewed quarry retrieving my hat and bringing it back to me. I said Shukran which means thank you in Arabic.

My Arabic gets great response. I only know things like Thank you, you're welcome and traditional greetings but each and every time in a heavily accented voice I get "You speak Arabic?" I am guessing since they ask in English that they are well aware that I only know a few words but they are so happy that I even know that. Most of our tour group hasn't even tried to learn anything about the language or culture of Egypt. It is almost as if they are treating it as a trip to Epcot. They want to see what Egypt looks like and take pictures but they don't want it to be an Egyptian experience. They want an American experience with all the things that make them comfortable in their own country. They don't want to have food that is different. They don't want to try to talk to anyone local. They don't want to respect the people of Egypt by dressing accordingly. Yesterday one of our guides had to ask the girl with the brand new boob job to put a shirt on over her barely there tank top because we were going to a church. Our guides have not worn shorts once on this trip and neither have Cory and I. I try to understand but it is hard for me to process why you would want to experience another country if you didn't want the full experience. I guess that it is good that they are experiencing it at all. I know a lot of Americans that are afraid to leave the country at all. 

We then went to catch a little ferry boat to the Temple at Philae. Philae Temple was completely covered by water during flooding of the Nile. When they built the dam it put the island under water all of the time. The tourist would take small boats and row through the tops of the columns. They finally moved the temple block by block to higher ground so that it wouldn't be destroyed. Now it is easy to visit the amazing Temple. After seeing most of the sites at Philae we found a spot of shade with Haysam and Osama. We visited with them for some time. It was people like our guides that I really wanted to get to know on this trip. Haysam insisted on Cory and I posing close for a picture. Up until this point we had tried to to keep the public displays of affection to a minimum since it isn't common for Egyptian couples.




www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqyLxqZnGio

After returning from Philae and getting back to the cruise ship Cory and I went out to find an Internet cafe to send word home to the family that we are okay. We had to walk past the stables on the way back into Aswan where we were barraged by men asking us if we wanted a ride. With a polite shake of the head and the word shukran we let them know "no thank you" and they didn't not pursue it. As we walked along the Nile the sun started to set. The feluccas silhouetted against the Nile painted a picture of what I really thought the real Egypt was like. Suddenly it didn't feel surreal any longer. I was really in Egypt.

We found the Internet cafe in easy walking distance of the ship. The gentleman behind the counter collected our money and we tried to e-mail home. It took us forever because the keyboards were completely scrambled. Being in a job where I type all of the time it was hard to break the habits of years of practice. I had to hunt and peck as if I was just learning all over again.

Well now we are settling down in our twin beds just like Ozzie and Harriet and tomorrow we have another full day!
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