Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sailing North

The second day of sailing was more quiet than the first one had been. We didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to catch an airplane like the day before, we just got to wake up and eat breakfast and then watch the boat sail down the river to a place called Edfu. The people on the boat gave us a lot to eat and it was really nice food too, so everyone had a good breakfast. When we went back to the room, the cleaners had made a pretty flower out of a towel from the bathroom and left it on the bed. Then we went up to the top deck where the sun was finally getting to be stronger than the cold winds. I tried out the deck chairs around the swimming pool. They were pretty comfortable but there was nothing to watch since the people seemed to think that it was too cold for swimming. A moose would think that the temperature was perfect, but Maryanne told me not to get wet.

Since I wasn’t allowed to go swimming, we explored the boat a bit. I checked out the safety rings that they hang up around the boat in case someone is silly and falls into the water. I think that they are a little big for a small moose. I decided that it would be a good idea not to fall into the river. We looked all over the boat to see what there was. They had a couple of places where you could sit inside to watch the river and there was a shop where you could buy things from Egypt. I tried on a hat and thought that it was pretty cool, but Maryanne pointed out that we were always seeing people wanting to sell us things from Egypt so there was no reason to buy something right now.
We sailed past places where the valley was so narrow that we could see the desert just beyond the green palm trees and fields. There were parts of the river where it looked like the water had dried a bit to leave grass for cows and sheep to eat along the banks. At one spot, some children were playing on a sandbar in the middle of the river while their fathers fished in boats nearby. We weren’t the only big boats on the river. Others were sailing along by us and sometimes we could see the people sitting around on their top decks like we were. There were quite a few kids playing in the sun. It looked like they were having a good time.

In Edfu we left the boat and we went to the street where a lot of horses and carriages were waiting. We took one of the carriages and we rode to another temple where we saw a huge place. The walls were so tall it was amazing. The guide man told us that most of this temple had been buried under lots of sand for thousands of years and that the sand had protected it from being taken apart. The temple was for an Egyptian god called Horus who was in the shape of a falcon. There were carvings of men in Horus masks all over the walls of the temple and in one place we saw one where a little sparrow was sitting in the belly button of the Horus man. I guess that this is a bird temple for sure.

Later we went back to the boat and sailed some more. We went by many green fields of tall grass that people said were sugar cane. They said that people cut it down, smash it to get the juice out and then boil the juice to get sugar. I thought that was pretty interesting since sugar is white and powdery. In other places we saw the villages against the rocky cliffs of the desert. Some of the houses were the same colour as the desert and others were painted bright colours like blue and yellow. Many of them are made of mud brick because it keeps the house cool and is cheap. In some places they call these kinds of bricks adobe. It’s ok to make mud bricks here because it almost never rains to make the bricks melt.

Just about the time that the sun was setting we came to a place called Esna where we had to wait for the ship to have its turn to go through something called a lock. They said that in the old days there had been a narrow place in the river there where the the river dropped down and that it had been hard for boats to pass so the people made a special small lake with a passage so that a ship could go into a box, have water either put in or taken out to move up or down. There was a long time to wait for the ship to go through the locks, so I went to bed because the next day we would be in Luxor and I had to get up early.

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