25th April, 2009
OK. I decxided to lump my days in Aswan together. Logical. So, we have to go back in time (again) to:
23rd April, 2009
Kinda exhausted is the best way to describe the end of the day. Finally made it to Aswan!
Didn’t sleep too well, as the deck of the ferry was kinda crowded. And quite anoyingly, several different people kept calling for Ahmed. There were enough that it sort of became a joke, like “Where in The World id Ahmed?” And they turned on the floodlights just as I was falling asleep and got on the loudspeaker to roust all the people who had camped under the lifeboats. This was after having to move for evening prayers which all the men got together on deck and followed some imam in prayers. Quite long prayers. Managed to get under the lifeboats to sit for the rest of the trip. They are really the only shade on deck during the day. Sat with gernot and Scott, an English guy from Cambridge (the town not the university) and chatted. I borrowed Scott’s LPG and decided after sleeping in my clothes for two weeks, I was going to register at the Hathor Hotel when I got to Aswan as it had a rooftop swimming pool. Had a breakfast of badly cooked macaroni and cheese. They ran out of Pepsi’s so I had a lukewarm 7Up, but the Miranda orange pops were fairly cool and refreshing. They handed back the passports in the morning, but when we got to Aswan we weighed anchor off the shore and the Customs guys cam eon the baot, and started processing people in the teeny dining room. I had originally intended to hang back when we docked and let the mad crush dissipate, but Scott said we should get our passports stamped, so we joined the throng. I had my back pack on which pissed off the pushy women on the boat, but I REALLY DIDN’T CARE. By turning a bit sideways, I could block the entire passageway, and keep the pushers back and give myself some room in front. I think the only reason for processing and stamping the passports on the ship was that the first class dining room was air conditioned.
So that done, I sat with Gernot and had some more bad macaroni. We sat with an English couple who were driving back to Great Britain from Cape Town, Emma and, I think, Neils . Scott joined us, and finally after about two hours, the ship moved to the dock. So we got up and people were leaving, and I let myself get pushed to the front by people being called by the border patrol. Once at the door, we had to wait for almost another two hours. They started calling people by name and finally they only had Ahmed left on their list. He finally arrived. He had been sleeping on deck. There were then exactly three more checks before we got out of the immigration clearing area. It opens out into the train station, so six of us foreigners piled onto the train which would stop in downtown Aswan, only to discover that the train wouldn’t leave until 7:30PM. So we all piled into a taxi, and everyone except Scott , a french guy and some other guy (can’t remember his name(like that’s a surprise)) went to the Hathor Hotel. After Sudan, any place with a swimming pool has got to be on the top of the list of places to stay. It was reasonably cheap 60 guinays single and 90 double. Gernot and I shared a room and he went upstairs to swim right away. I went downstairs to send a birthday email to Lee, and found out they have WIFI. Only thing is you can only log on in the lobby. It doesn’t work in my room which is a bummer. Birthday stuff done, I headed for the rooftop pool…
The swimming pool was ice cold! I couldn’t stay in it for more than 30 seconds! What a terrible disappointment. I went with Neils and Emma to some restaurant (later found out it was called the Emy) and had a mediocre shish kabob and orange juice. The waiter was kinda brusque and forgot my orange juice. And then at the end, after Scott joined us, he asked for a tip like it was mandatory. We all decided he wasn’t getting one, and when he brought the bill, it was just a number 210 guinays. So we had to get a menu and work out what we each owed with service charge and value added tax, and found out we had been overcharged by 65 guinays. We finally sorted out the change. Emma took charge of that, and we beat it out of there before the nasty waiter started hassling us for his tip.
Tired little mice, we all went back to the hotel to sleep. 24th April, 2009
Got up late. Gernot left to visit the Nubian Museum, and I had a slow breakfast. I spent most of the morning in the lobby hokoed to the WIFI. Gernot came back and he was meeting a friend of a friend who had a hotel in Aswan, and he split. I went for a walk to the train station to check out the Tourist Information Office, but it was closed. This was not surprising cause today is Friday. I wandered around for a bit and ended up at the Egyptian Airlines Office, and surprisingly it was open. I asked about changing my flight from Aswan to leave from Luxor, but the fee was $150 USD, and as the whole cost of my flight was $165, I decided against changing it. I figured for that amount I could take the train back from Luxor to Aswan and then some. Form there I wound up at the Nubian Museum. It was a first rate place. Won the Aga Khan Award for architecture. The exhibits were tremendous and laid out far more professionally than the Cairo Museum. I then visited a park and took a ferry across to Elephantine Island to visit the ruins of the ancient town of Abu (which in the old kemetic language means both “ivory” and “elephant”. I’m assuming from the etymology, the ancient Egyptians weren’t too familiar with actual live elephants.
I had to be quite rude to get rid of the guides, and by the time I had wandered around the site and checked out the Nileometer (flood guage), the museum part was closed. I chatted with a teacher from the Nubian Village there. Everyone there seemed to think I should come to their house and visit, but I was kinda tired from walking most of the day.
Got back, and decided to go out for a bit to eat and wandered about the souk (market) behind the hotel. Bought a shwarma sandwich, a comb and a toothbrush. Still no Golf visor, though I did finally abandon one erstwhile tradesman who insisted I wait till he tracked one down. He brought me (on separate trips) a really cheap hanky and rope in a plastic bacg. A baseball cap. Matching sweatband and wrist bands. I inisited he stop going to find stuff as I knew he wouldn’t get one even though I drew a picture of one for him. On a rather long expedition, I finally gave up, and all the other vendors were horrified I was abandoning him, but I was getting tired. I am sure I can find one in Yemen. I did get some oranges and jawaffas. Worked on editing photos back at the hotel, and drifted off before I was finished.
25th April, 2009
Woke up and did the laundry in the shower stall. I finally got around to it! I think I will have to throw out my older denim shirt as the back is the colour of the desert sand and the collar is the color of diesel fuel. Not to mention the couple of rips I put in it saving Benny from jumping out of the truck in the Sudan. After the laundry, I started selecting pictures for the journal, but I’m quite a bit behind. Still, as you can tell by now, I persevered. I’ve decided to leave for Luxor tomorrow by felucca after checking my options at the Tourist Information Booth. They weren’t particularly informative, and I ended up booking my taxi trip to Philae and my felucca trip to Luxor through the Hathor Hotel. The trip to Philae is particualarly expensive. There is no public transport out there (I still think there’s a local bus. How else do all the workers get there? I also think the taxi fare is a lot less for the same distance to any other location in Aswan. Still, that’s the way it works.
I paid 65 guinays for the taxi fare and had to haggle for that because no one could believe I wanted to stay there for three hours. The same hassle when I got to the boats. There’s no regular ferry, so I had to hire a boat all to myself. I tried to find someone at the hotel to go with me, but there were no takers. Anyway, I took 500 pictures on Philae and explored it as much as I could in the time I had available. It was quite a wonderful place, and it was quite comforting that the landscap looks like my paintings.
I let myself be talked into a souvenir shirt from Philae 50 guinays, down from 150, and escaped to the taxi. I washed the last of my dirty clothes and then came up to the hotel rooftop to catch some sun and copy my pictures over to the computer. So the day became suddenly overcast. Just my luck! I was hoping to get some tan before I joined the ship in Yemen. My legs are still the color of candlesticks. Of course that would be brass of silver, but it rolls off the tongue better than the color of candles. And then candles are all clors of the rainbow and then some. Beeswax white, only whiter.