The last full day of our Nile cruise was spent in and around the city of Aswan, in the deep south of Egypt.
Our first visit was to the Aswan High Dam. This was an interesting contrast to all of the ancient monuments we’ve seen the last few days and just as impressive. The first dam was built at Aswan at the turn of the 20th century. Prior to that, for millennia, Egypt’s economy was at the mercy of the Nile’s annual flood. When there was too much rain up river, Egyptian crops were drowned; when there was too little rain, crops died of thirst. With the dams, the amount of water released into the Nile Valley and Nile Delta can be controlled. Continue reading →
Today, day 3 of our Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan, I got up early and sat on deck for a while before breakfast. I wrote a little, but mainly just looked at the river. There were a few small boats out and lots of birds, all seeking breakfast, I imagine. For the first time since we started this cruise, I had some time to ponder the magnificence of the river and its immeasurable impact. It’s a difficult thing to get one’s mind around. I finally gave up trying to visualize and quantify the millennia of history known here and, instead, cleared my mind and meditated on the Nile. When I stopped grasping at the significance of the place, that significance snuck up on me through some forgotten back door. I resolved to stay passively open for the rest of my tour. Continue reading →
Mutrah Souk in the capital is one of the oldest traditional markets in our mystery country and a favorite stop for visitors. Near the main entrance, there are plenty of shops offering the standard trinkets, as well as quality local products for tourists.
Buy frankincense of the best quality here (and many other places around the country), a product exported from this country for thousands of years. To round out the set, you can also find gold and myrrh at the Mutrah Souk. For a more authentic experience, head deeper into the maze of alleys, where locals shop.
We began the day with a delicious breakfast buffet, which included a variety of fresh fruits, flakey pastries, crusty breads, cheeses, olives, a ful bar (that’s ful with one ‘L’ – the traditional breakfast of mashed fava beans garnished with any or all of the following – olive oil, chopped boiled egg, onion, tomato, cucumber, parsley, lemon juice… Click to see a recipe for ful.), omelettes and pancakes made to order, yogurt, cereal, fresh juices, coffee, and tea.
Then we headed out for a morning of touring on the west side of the river. Tombs and mortuary temples are located on the west because the sun sets in the west. Continue reading →