Esna, Edfu and Fish Like an Egyptian

January 5, 2008

Tom – When we woke for breakfast we found that during the night our boat had moved through the lock and was now docked at Esna.  When we left for the tour of the Esna Temple we were surprised that our guide was again Sarah.  She had driven the 34 miles from Luxor with the other guides.  It was again a clear day (except for the haze from burning sugarcane) with a cool breeze.  We walked about two blocks to the temple moving through the main tourist alley lined with stalls.

The Graeco-Roman Temple of Khnum (Ram headed creator god) is the main attraction of Esna.  Only the Hypostyle Hall of the temple has been excavated so far.  The rest is still under sand and the houses that have been built on top.  They have the same problem here as we have in Springfield, that is, people don’t want to give up their homes for a community project.

The temple has some great reliefs that show the Greek and Roman emperors or Kings making offerings to the Egyptian gods.  We were told that the Greek and Roman occupations of Egypt were so successful because they accepted and incorporated the Egyptian gods into their own religious ceremonies.  After visiting the temple, we haggled to purchase two galabia ($17), light robes worn by the Arabs, for the galabia party on the boat that night.



The boat continued up the Nile (south) as we ate lunch and watched the river bank from our room and on deck. 



 In the afternoon we stopped at Edfu where we met our new guide Anmor, a teacher from Aswan.  We rode a decorated horse drawn carriage to the temple.  The Temple of Horus is another Graeco-Roman temple and is the most completely preserved temple in Egypt.  Horus is the falcon god and the son of Isis.  We enjoyed hearing the mythology stories from our guide and seeing the events depicted as reliefs or engravings on the stone walls.  The Graeco-Roman temples are constructed as pyramids lying on their side.  Therefore, as you walk down the central axis, the structures (columns, walls, etc.) get smaller and smaller until you reach the holy of holies, where the gold statue of Horus was once located.  It is as if you are looking down a rectangular tunnel.

On the way out of the temple, after much haggling, Helen bought a blue veil with coins to wear at the galabia party that night ($4).  We both felt a lot of tension in town during our carriage rides back and forth and were glad to get back to the boat.  The other two couples who sat at our table both had troubles with there guides.  One left them at the temple and never returned and the other got out of the carriage half way back to the boat and had them pay the fare!



Today Helen learned how to fish the Egyptian way!!  In a row boat with unusual oars (long planks counterbalanced near the handles), one man rowed and the other stood and slapped the water with a huge palm branch.  He was scaring the fish into a net set in the water ahead of the boat.  When they could tell they had enough fish by the depth of the float attached to the net, they would pull it in and start again.

Another observation from the deck was the difference between the two shores.  On one side the ground is level and very green, the other side, is more hilly and brown with the desert sand.  As you look at the brown background you notice several homes; most of the them are the same color as the desert and shining through you see some painted a lovely blue, sometimes pink, or yellow.  It is amazing to think that the Sahara desert goes from the west side of the Nile to Morocco covering an area bigger than the U.S.

It was Egyptian night on the boat.  The buffet highlighted Egyptian food and most people dressed in some semblance of Arab attire.  Our newly wed table mates Rafaei and Amna were corralled by singing/drumming boat workers and performed a traditional Egyptian wedding dance.  There was a raffle drawing that night in the lounge and dancing until about 11pm.





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