At Anchor

Trip Start Jun 14, 2005
1
3
Trip End Jul 12, 2005


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Flag of Egypt  ,
Tuesday, June 21, 2005

At anchor
Esna-on-the-Nile
Upper Egypt

Upper Egypt is southern Egypt, since the river runs from south to north. Most rivers we know run from north to south, so people get confused by this. You can really tell we are in Africa now. People carry baskets on their heads, children chatter in Arabic, and the thin strip of land on either side of the Nile is an explosion of green cultivation and palms.

I am continuing to walk around with my mouth wide open, each day seeing things I thought I would never see with my own eyes. Today was the Valley of the Kings, and I actually went in four tombs, including Hatshepsut. The pictures are fabulous, but they don't have the technology here for me to get them to you. I'll try that again from Cairo, too.

We took a bus ride for an hour along the Nile in a place that didn't see many buses. The farmers were working in the fields, wearing traditional dress, (long shirts and headwrappings), and as we would pass, they would stop working and smile broadly at us, waving as if they were happy to see us. They are living the same life today that they did 4,000 years ago, using the same tools and beasts. So they were not only exchanging smiles and waves across the ocean and the continents, but also across the centuries!

They have donkeys working turnstiles to draw irrigation water from the River Nile. Our guide is an Egyptologist named Mohammed, and he is a retired English teacher. He is the official guide for the American Embassy, and when we travel en masse, such as in a bus (or in Arabic, otobiis), we have either a plainclothes policeman or a police car escort. When we are introduced to academic types, we are referred to as "the Fulbright group." That carries a lot of weight around here.

Today I had red, heart-shaped plums, fresh loquats, fresh Egyptian figs, and the sweetest watermelon you can imagine. I have never eaten better. My health is good, too, and I have the requisite stamina for covering huge flights of outdoor staircases in the heat. Right now, at 10pm, the temp is 104 F, but it's a dry heat... The local people are happy that the weather is so cool and moderate for this time of year!
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