May 26: Aswan


Surprisingly I got close to a full 8 hours of sleep on the train (which had foldout beds).  I hadn't showered since the night of the 24th (no shower facilities on the train) but when I woke up my hair looked so good, especially after wearing a hat yesterday, that I acknowledged my haircut's resiliency with a "Hail Csar!"

Breakfast was served on the train and came with "pear jam", which inspired me to write this on the flight home:

At home, eating breakfast
Bacon and eggs
Hot buttered toast
Fresh orange juice
Pancakes arranged in a stack
And the maple syrup in pools of brown below
Daddy didn't give attention, oh
To the fact that Mommy couldn't cook
Poor Jeremy's intestines
Ruled his world
Jeremy crapped in class today (2x)

A second verse would be more difficult but of course it would be followed with "try to forget this, try to erase this, from the blackboard" etc.  And the video would feature Jeremy's poo-splattered classmates frozen in shock.

Dave says the Egypt tour usually has 40-45 people, even when the effects of the travelling public's superstition-fuelled conspiracy to restrict commerce are taken into account.  Not sure why our group was so small, especially considering I was supposed to go a week before and that tour was cancelled due to insufficient bookings.

Next 5 photos (no captions) are from the quarry in Aswan containing the Unfinished Obelisk.  The standard method for making an obelisk was to do a bit of chiselling, then insert wood into the gaps in the rock and soak the wood, causing it to expand and break the stone.  This obelisk at 42 m would have been the tallest ever, but work was abandoned because of a flaw in the granite.  It looks like they tried to salvage the stone by breaking it into a smaller obelisk.

Next 6 are from the Aswan High Dam:

If the dam is destroyed by terrorists, 98% of Egypt's population will be wiped out.  This dawg keeps it real.

To the rear is the Soviet-Egyptian Friendship Monument.  Not until the Rock 'n' Sock Connection did a more unlikely friendship coalesce, and with similar longevity.

Looking north (downstream) from the dam.

Looking south (upstream) from the dam.  The dam created Lake Nasser out of the Nile.

Another dawg, or perhaps the same dawg.  There were two.

Power plant at the base of the dam.  Try to spot the dogg!

After the dam we checked into our cruise ship, the M/S Medea.  I showered and the liquid bath soap smelled like Windex and was blue.  It left me squeaky clean.  After lunch I napped.

I brought a filtration bottle with me since drinking tap water is not recommended in Egypt.  It seemed to work until I was on the boat, when I noticed myriad sea creatures in my glass that somehow evaded the filter.  I don't know if I drank any of that sample but Pharaoh's Revenge set in the following morning.

In the afternoon we took a felucca ride around Elephantine Island to Kitchener's Island, home to a lovely botanical garden.  Next 3 photos are from there:

Cat.  He was braying rather than meowing.

Southern tip of the island.  On the opposite shore is the Mausoleum of the Aga Khan.  There were also some cool tombs carved into the bluffs to the right but my camera missed them.

Botanical garden stuff.

Later Amadeus led us through the bazaar in Aswan.  One store was selling kaftans for L.E.30 (30 Egyptian pounds, L.E.6 = US$1), and we had to buy one for the party on Tuesday, so I went back later and inquired.  The shopkeeper pulled the trick I had been warned about--once I got inside the price became 30.  He and his buddy dressed me up in the thing and tried to throw in a headdress, but I worked them back down to L.E.40 and we had a deal.

The last item on today's itinerary was the sheesha pipe, but the general response to that was "I don't smoke" so only a few people did it.  I purposely didn't smoke out of spite for Peter Samaan.

A few people in the group tried to find an Internet cafe but could not locate one that was (1) open, (2) not a front for selling felucca rides, and (3) equipped with a keyboard with an easy-to-find @ symbol.

Billboards and posters featuring Hosni Mubarak are ubiquitous in Cairo as well as in Aswan.  Soon these images shall fall as the Egyptian people are liberated.

At night on board we sat through a performance by a fat belly dancer.  The entire time I was hoping she wouldn't pick me to go up on stage and clumsily mimic her moves on a 2-second delay as is always the case.  Preceding her was a male dancer who spun counterclockwise for a good 45 minutes.  Very creepy.


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