Today was S's birthday. More then anything in the world, I want to hug and kiss my baby. I miss them all so much, but more so S today since she and I share a bond on this special day. And with the huge time difference, of course I can't call and have to wait until the US east coast gets light.
So onward to waking up in Edfu and heading to the local temple. While the other tourist on the boat all get carriage rides, we quickly hop into our private air conditioned private van and head into town. We got there a few minutes early and had to wait at the gate with the hundreds of others for the opening. Say what you will about Arab time, but that gate keeper at Edfu was not going to budge until 7am sharp!
Of course, the temple is huge, overwhelming and so very beautiful. The statues, particularly, one of Horus, were mostly intact and the carving on the walls was so massive. Afterwards, I walked around outside the temple in the chaos that was the carriage drivers. Our van driver had run off with different passengers to make an extra quick buck but would return shortly since the cruise boats were close by. Honestly, the town of Edfu was quiet small in itself and really didn't have much else other then the temple. I didn't care how long he took, since I got some really great photos of the carriages and the various decorations that were on the back of them. In particular there were a number of them that were of the hand of Fatima and other forms of protection. It reminded me of taking the buses in Mexico and how the images of Mary were everywhere. In fact, some of them were even in tin. It's interesting to see how forms of protection show up in different parts of the world, but they all accomplish the same goal.
We finally got back on the boat, turned in our boat day passes as we came in the door so the staff can make sure everyone was counted, and off we went. Now it was a race to make it to the Esna Locks with all the other boats that had just also left the temple. After breakfast, I again set on the deck, feeling the cool breeze of the water, looking at the desert over the palm trees. Children were playing at the water's edge, laughing and jumping into the Nile, while donkeys neighed to each other about the hardships of their lives. I fell asleep and woke up just in time for high tea in the lounge. There were an assortment of cookies and tea biscuits covered in sesame seeds.
We finished high tea in time to go through the locks. Now we have the Ballard Locks here in Seattle, so the concept isn't that new to us. But what is new is having the lock attendant on land being paid to help the boats go through with sugar and rice. Another new thing? The attendees themselves dressed in gallabia. Since our cabin was right next to the cruise ship's control room, we had front row access to going into the locks, something we never got to experience back home. We also went to the upper deck after we were all the way into to watch the next cruise ship pull up behind us.
After the locks, we arrived at Luxor and docked for the day. Our guide took us to Luxor, the Disney World of all temples cities. Just like Disney World has Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, MGM studios and Animal Kingdom, Luxor is a town with many magical stops in it's city limits. In fact, they are still discovering temples and buying out people's homes in order to dig under them. Saying this place is huge is an understatement. It's almost like saying the Mall of America is just another strip mall. Or that Peanut M&Ms are just chocolate when we all know that those little bits of heaven are the best thing to come out since chocolate was invented. But I digress. Back to Luxor and the sheer size of this "world's greatest open air museum."
The temple of Karnak. with it's obelisicks, columns and granite scarab, oh my, were far more impressive then any old pyramids in Giza, I must admit. Approximately thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings, which makes it the second visited site in all of Egypt. The sacred lake, dug by Tuthmosis III had a red granite scarab and our guide told us to walk around it seven times and make a wish. Of course we did it, just like all the other tourist doing the exact same thing, looking pretty silly. But it was kinda fun.
We left Karnak and headed for Luxor Temple, stopping along the way to view the road that connected these two great temples to each other. It was lined with ram headed sphinxes placed there by Nectanebo I in the 30th Dynasty. Having gone through the gates of the Luxor Temple, pausing to admire the collasel size of the Ramesses II statue, we came across the Abu Haggag Mosque, the only working mosque to be placed on top of a ancient temple. The unusual thing about this is not that fact, but that fact that the mosque had been placed on top of a church. If you look closely, you can see the foundation of the temple, with the foundation of the church on top and then the foundation of the mosque still in use. Inside the temple where other evidences of church use, as the Catholic priests etched out the faces of the gods that had been carved into the walls and replaced them with plaster and then paintings of important moments in Christ's life.
We headed back to the cruise boat, lunch and a quick, yet expensive, call to the States to wish my baby a happy birthday. At this point, my DH was not feeling well at all. In fact, he only had bread for lunch and went to go lay down. By dinner it had gotten worse and we had to call the front desk for a doctor. If you are ever sick in Egypt, never call a doctor. Why? Because it was the most expensive thing we had done so far and of course he would only take cash. The doctor came and said yup, my DH was sick from the "tourist sickness" and gave him very expensive pills. But we had tickets to that evening's Karnak Temple's Sound and Light shows, with it's history of Thebes, so I decided to go ahead and go, since my DH was passed out at this point. I was picked up by private van, taken with a different guide and driver back to the Karnak temple and handed my tickets to wait for the performance.
To be totally honest with you, the best part about it was watching the full moon rise between the pylon's that were the main entrance surrounded on each side with the ram headed sphinx statues. Other then that, I found myself nodding off during the light performance while I was sitting in the bleachers over looking the lake. I was just too tired from the day and was a bit historied out from being told the same story earlier that day by our guide.
I walked back alone, well, with the other hundred or so tourist that were there, in the dark, found my guide and van and was driven back in silence through the bustling streets of Luxor. It was time for bed. It was too long of a day and tomorrow looked no different. And in case you were curious, this is the creation we had waiting for us after dinner.