Monday, February 21, 2011


Today: News reports that Libya and Yemen are demonstrating for pro-democracy rights with several deaths resulting from the police attempts to control the crowds. South Koreans are encouraging North Korean citizens to revolt by releasing helium balloons with notes attached. We are in a winter of discontent that continues to boil!

Sunday, November 27th, 2005 The Nubian Museum….

Still docked in Aswan, we asked our tour director about the possibility of attending Mass this morning. I knew that at least half of the group, if not more, were Catholics. She said that she had planned a surprise discovery along that line for this morning.

Boarding our bus we headed towards our first scheduled stop to tour the Nubian Museum. The bus stopped outside of the new Coptic Church…the Catholic version of the Christian religion in Egypt. We had a short explanation and then ventured inside to stand at the rear for about ten minutes during the mass. That was our “church” for today. It is a beautiful church and I found two things that I remembered…there are no statutes and the men and women sit on opposite sides of the aisle.

The Nubian Museum is a well planned and executed memorial for the benefit of the Nubian people who lost many of their relics and historical sites when Egypt built the Aswan High Dam. They are a very old race and very determined to maintain their heritage and this will assist them in preserving that heritage. They generally marry within their race and continue to live in the old ways along the banks of the Nile River whenever possible. They are farmers and fisherman and most of the boatmen for the motor boats and feluccas are Nubian men.

By 10:30 am we were off to the vegetable market to shop for our cooking class during our afternoon cruise. We were split into groups of four, each of us had a list of two items to purchase; the items were written phonically and with a suggested price that we should negotiate towards. We were also given enough Egyptian pounds to purchase our items. Since we didn’t have the Arabic name of the items we were forced to verbally tell the clerks what we wanted. That was the first challenge; then we had to start negotiating once we’d actually found the item. We teamed up with Roger and Alice and had to find corn oil and tomato paste. Our class would be a lesson on cooking Okra. Within a half an hour each of the teams had completed their assignments and we were all walking back to the ship for our scheduled sailing time of noon. Along the way Jim couldn’t resist a white crocheted prayer cap offered by a vendor that he thought would be the perfect topper for his costume for tonight’s Galabeya Party. He kept the negotiations short and was delighted to reach a reasonable price.

Stopped at an ATM along the way back but after waiting half an hour in line we decided to continue using the American Dollars. Apparently they have a rule that if a woman wants to use the ATM she has a separate line and they always take precedent over the men. Consequently the men’s line moved very slowly. Several offered to let me join the women’s line but I declined as there were too many impatient men standing in line in front of us and I didn’t want to add to the problem.

The cooking class took place on the top deck after lunch. By 3 pm we’d reach our afternoon destination of Kom Ombo, a Nubian Village with a Greco-Roman Temple dramatically set on the riverbank at a bend on the Nile. After docking we walked to the temple for our visit. Along the way we had a Discovery: A young man was sitting with three cobra snakes. Two of them were curled on the sidewalk, heads standing upright, and hardly moved while we were there. The third one was around his neck. Our tour guide said that the venom had been removed and asked if one of us would like to hold one for the rest of the group. No one said anything so I volunteered. They thought I was crazy! I had actually held a few snakes when I was about eighteen; but not since then. I declined to put it around my neck but did grip the head in one hand and the tail in another for a few minutes for photos. Lots of fun for me! Once it started to wriggle I decided to give it back to the owner!

The Temple is Egypt’s only double temple with one side dedicated to the crocodile god, Sobek, and the other side to the falcon god, Horus. The entire structure is unusual in that everything is doubled and perfectly symmetrical along the main axis: twin entrances, twin courts and twin colonnades. They had a mummified crocodile. There was also a pit designed to measure the water level of the Nile River.

We were back on board for afternoon tea at 5:00 pm before retiring to our cabins to prepare for our Galabeya Party that starts with dinner. On the menu will be our Okra (and it was very tasty). By 7:30 pm we were dressed up in Galabeya along with everyone else in the group. Some had on Arab style headdresses; Jim wore his Nubian cap plus an Egyptian necklace he’d picked up on one of our shopping expeditions. Many of the men were wearing house slippers for shoes. Most of the women had brought sandals with them so they didn’t have to improvise. Jim had borrowed our galabeyas from a friend and traveler that he works with at Bowers Museum; the others had purchased their costumes over the past week. A rainbow of colors prevailed and it was a fun evening for all. Everyone seemed to rise for the occasion; even those that were not feeling all that well from stomach ailments.

During our dessert we celebrated a surprise birthday for Joe from his family and then we moved to the lounge for party games of musical groups, passing plastic bottles, wrapping up partners as mummies with toilet paper and other games designed to entertain us for the remainder of the evening.

And so ended our second day of sailing on the River Nile. Hope you’re still enjoying our journey.

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