Two days ago I was walking around temples and going on a camel safari. Today I am lying on a felucca, drifting down the Nile, the world’s longest river at 6680km.
At the temple, a guard came up to our guide and spoke rapidly, handing over a sheet of paper. Our guide turns to me, and said "My friend here has just won the lotto, and they sent him instructions on how to claim it, can you summarise it for us?" Doubtful, I took the sheet and read, it was one of those Nigerian lotto scams, just send us US$900 to claim your prize. I told the guard it was a scam, it seemed strange to me that they have the same scams here, and more obscene to swindle someone whose wages are about US$680/year.
After the temple and safari we had dinner at the felucca captain's house. We sat on the roof, covered with sand and painted pastel blues and yellows in Nubian style (very Rastafarian). We ate a beautiful Nubian meal, sitting on floor mats and listening to local music. I held their child, Habib (which means 'My love', such a wonderful name to call a child), when I passed her on she cried, so I rocked her to sleep. They also had a little boy, Andrew and Justin played soccer with him, until he discovered the better game of throwing the ball off the roof and getting Andy to fetch.
Yesterday we set off for Luxour by felucca, down the Nile. We sailed down the river, tacking backwards and forwards to use the wind, lying lazily on the mats on the deck. I spent the day reading (The history of the Arab people, and the sequel to The Number One Ladies Detective Agency, a beautiful drifting novel), napping and relaxing. We didn't go too far, because the wind was too strong.
Here is an interesting story about the Nile from Herodotus : One of the rulers of Egypt, Pheros, when blind after he speared the Nile in rage at a flood. He was blind for ten years, after which he received an oracle from the city of Buto to the effect that the time of his punishment being now ended, he would recover his sight, if he washed his eyes with the urine of a woman who had never lain with any man except her husband. He tried his wife first, but without success – he remained as blind as ever; then he tried other women, a great many, one after another, until at last his sight was restored. Then he collected within the walls of a town, now called Red Clod, all the women except the one whose urine had proved efficacious, set the place on fire and burnt them to death, town and all; afterwards he married the woman who had been the means of curing him.
Still on the felucca today, we have had to turn back because the strong wind ate up too much of our time. It has been a beautiful lazy day, one where you cannot feel guilty by choosing between sleeping, reading or simply thinking.