We arrived by train in Aswan at 11:30 am and checked into our hotel with our balcony overlooking the Nile and Elephantine Island with Greco-Roman ruins all over it. Needless to say, after the train, the shower was a godsend. In Aswan, we visit the unfinished obelisk, begun by the ancient Egyptians in a granite quarry but never completed. We then took a small Nile boat to an island in lake Nasser to see the Temple of Philae. It was great to see the sunset from there. We took another boat from there to another island where we ate at a Nubian restaurant. By the time we took the last boat home, it was 10 pm and it had been a very, very long day.
2:45 the next morning, we awoke to join a convoy of military and civilian vehicles through the desert to the Temple of Abu Simbel. I got to see the sunrise across the endless nothingness of the Sahara desert... amazing. Abu Simbel was moved from its original location in the 1960's to a location 50 meters up the mountain because of the rising waters of lake Nasser caused by the new High Dam. It was literally cut out of the mountain and rebuilt. I am completely in awe of this undertaking. The whole world came together to support this project. When we came out of the temple, Abdel approached us with a small gift for Kelly... a little piece of folded paper. He said, "Open it now." Kelly started to open it and a very agitated scorpion began to leap out. It scared everyone half to death. The stinger had been removed by the workers who had found it.
We then joined the convoy for the looong trip back to Aswan. 5 hours later when w arrived, we went straight to the riverbank and paid some Nubians to take us out on their felluca... a small, ancient Nile sailboat. The smell of hashish was heavy in he air and when they raised the sail a huge portrait of Bob Marley emerged. We sailed up and down the Nile until we found some Middle Kingdom tombs dating to 1,800 BC. We climbed the cliffs and found ourselves crawling through passageways and descending into burial shafts. Most of the tombs had been looted in antiquity but at the very end of a long, steep shaft, I came across the remains of a mummy. Bones, linen wrappings and even some mummified remains of skin. It was unbelievable. We crawled out at sunset and hailed our boatmen. The wind had totally died, so guess what... we had to ROW the boat all the way back. A LONG WAY back. Kelly and I traded off with the Nubians. The oars were basically just long boards... no paddles. It was dark... beautiful and silent.