06 January, 2011

Dec 28, 2010

Day 10

Dirtiest window ever.

The overnight train to Aswan. 1000 km, 14 hours of full-blast AC necessitating sleeping bag deployment, bone-jarring starts-and-stops and the toilet from hell. 45° tilt only does so much in that case.

But the view from the train of the country-side was magnificent! It was nice to get out of the city and it was surreal to see desert on your left, and green fields on your right. Truly and viscerally impressing the vital importance of the Nile as a source of life.

We were all so exhausted and dirty and ready for our hotel (it’s truly a bonding experience) that we were so grateful for the van that picked us up... only to drop us off 500 meters later! What’s the point? But “rugged” backpackers that we were, we didn't argue when porters met us to take our bags. Egypt’s bewildering extremes.

Somewhat revived we set off for the Temple of Isis at Philae by boat. You can’t talk about Aswan without the phrase “laid back” and skimming out over the calm waters helped us to shift gears.

The Temple of Isis is gorgeous, and as survived over two-thousand years and submersion (baptism?) by the Aswan High Dam and defacing from the Christians who camped out there in 300 AD. It was surreal, mythic and the glittering sun on the waters and cool breezes made you want to stay and wander amongst the hieroglyphs for hours. Alas, our boat rental time and Nescafé were calling. So we retired to take it easy with the blokes at the hotel and some of the most amazing Egyptian food. Anne got to eat her requisite pigeon (surprisingly little meat...just spiced rice and skin!)

Another city, another market. Aswan’s known for it’s spices and it was an eye-popping, Kodak commercial of colors, a potpourri of scents, and even more imaginative banter “Buy one, get me free!” “100% off!” designed to turn heads and bring us into a conversation, some cups of tea, and a seal a deal. Anne was on another plane than I was when trying to buy a shirt and quilted Koran wall-hanging. Faktiskt, I bartered for the guy. After nearly an hour I wanted it, and to be done and on with getting a beer... I think Anne wanted blood.

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