In Assouan!

In Aswan. We’ve been traveling in a lovely wooden ship on Lake Nasser, which is a HUGE freshwater lake created by the Aswan Dam. Our program director, Nora, told us the dam is so heavily protected because, were it to be destroyed in, say, a terrorist attack, Egypt would be flooded and destroyed within 9 hours.

On yesterday’s excursion we went to see some amazing Nubian temples. These temples were built so far away from the capital at the time that it was presumed the king would never see them and so they were created in a more slapdash manner and lacked the precision of others we have seen. One of the temples from Greco Roman times showed Ptolemy (sp?) making offerings to the god Horus the Child, son of the goddess Isis, whom the Nubians worshipped as late as the 1600s AD.

Many temples were turned into a church when Christianity first came to the area and in one of the Nubian temples the statues of the three main gods were destroyed and removed from the sacred inner sanctum. A crude rendering of St. Peter was painted in their place to create an image of the king worshipping and making offerings to Peter.

We also saw on Friday the spectacular temples at Abu Simbel, built by Rameses 2 and moved in the 1960s to their current location. It took 4 years and the cooperation of countries all over the world – including the US – to save these masterpieces from being flooded by the creation of the dam.

Right now the group is touring another Nubian temple. All of these temples that were relocated were moved to islands accessible only by small motorboat, perhaps to protect against looting. There are guards with semiautomatic rifles who live there.

I am feeling much better now but taking the morning to convalesce. We check out at 9:30am and I got very sick last night. I pretty sure the plum I ate as a snack was not properly washed? But the Egyptians are not allowed to consider this as a possibility. My diagnosis is “motion sickness” and perhaps “heat exhaustion.” Tourism is critical here. The ship’s doctor came and gave me a shot in the rear end “to calm down my central nervous system” so I’d be able to keep something down and gave me some pills to take as well. He also said I couldn’t eat any more fresh fruits and salads and should only have cooked or prepackaged foods. Jealous much, kids?

Btw, five of the eight people in our group got sick on that boat!

It is now 10am your time, 4pm here. “Here” is Elephantine Island, in the Nile off of Aswan. In the cutest hotel! Nora said that we should only eat food prepared at the hotel because, while Aswan is one of the most glorious cities in all of Egypt, “they are not really careful with the hygiene.” Yes, ma’am. You don’t have to tell me twice!

I missed the Aswan dam and Nubian museum today, choosing to come straight to the hotel with the luggage. I have 30 channels, in a mix of Arabic, French, Spanish, German, Swiss, and English. I’ve seen a lot of CNN international. The other day, their lead news story was the rain in Wilmington, NC.

I just ordered lasagna and Pepsi from room service – felt like eating for the first time in 22 hours! Need to get my strength back because Nora says that everything we’ve seen so far will pale in comparison to the rest of our trip!

Tomorrow we go to Philae Temple, which is supposed to be unbelievable. We are also going to take a felucca ride, which is a small traditional sailboat that you see on the Nile. Then we board the Sonesta Moon Goddess to cruise up the river for four nights to Luxor, where we’ll visit the Valley of the Kings.

Does anyone have a copy of Death on the Nile that I can borrow when I get back?

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