Day 11, Abu Simbel
3 am wake up call to join a Tourist Police Convoy to Abu Simbel. We were greeted by our cheery egyptologist, a Coptic Christian named Emat, who was our best yet. You could tell that he had a sincere passion for the studing antiquities and sharing out the curiosities of his home.
We saw the sun rise over the Sahara. I watched a star fade away into the daylight while Anne slept on my shoulder.
Abu Simbel was Ramses II homage to himself, the first standing king deified. He’s kind of a big deal, having ruled as Pharaoh for 67 years and fathered 180-something children.
It was also nearly submerged by the High Dam and moved stone-by-stone by UNESCO in the 1960s. The man-made Lake Nasr was gorgeous and we saw a line of thousands of ducks migrating North to Europe that stretched on for over 5 minutes... think we’ll see any of them up here?
On the way back, a mirage in the desert... (where else?) that looked just like the huge lake we’d just come from.
These words don’t do enough to describe what a great day we had, despite the 7-hour bus ride and the early start, but we got the afternoon to explore and relax.
And then came the camels.
This was an optional and to think we could’ve missed it! It ended up vying as my favorite part of the trip. For an hour I was Lawrence of Arabia. We saw the most magnificent sunset as we rounded 4,000 year old Nubian tombs and came upon the ruined monastery of St. Simeon. The browns & reds & grays & tans of the desert hills against the white/blue/yellow/apricot fading into pink and red of the sky... It was out of this world.
Oh, and we raced. Think I was 3rd, but think Mikey baksheeshed his way to the front...
Afterwards another soothing boat ride to the Nubian village for a home cooked meal and a henna tattoo for Anne.