Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Snippets from the Nile

I loved our Nile Cruise. We traveled on a new boat run by the same group as the Sonesta Hotels - the Sonesta Star Goddess. We had a suite - a twin bedroom, walk in wardrobe, bathroom and lounge with a small alcove for a study - and a balcony. The balcony allowed us to sit in armchairs overlooking the Nile as the boat moved slowly and silently past the riverbanks and the life on and around them.

At first I photographed features - until I looked through the photographs and realised I had nothing but boats. So then I took a lot of vistas. I could have watched the world go by all day. Sometimes one bank had the barest smattering of green and then huge rocky hills reared up behind. On the other side of the boat was the lushness of acres of date palms with undergrowth and other crops - wheat and khakadeh and cotton and great flat expanses of mud, usually well studded with cows.

Two incidents for you.

Day two on the boat and we headed for the breakfast buffet. My mother likes a good breakfast, but is used to a breakfast of the 'cereal, fruit and toast or pastries' variety.

The only cereals were rice bubbles in tall dispensers complete with a tap. Standing slightly to the side I could see that the tap controlled a horizontal cylinder that was filled from above by gravity, and emptied from below by gravity. THe cylinder has a cross wise division so only one quarter of what it held could empty itself into you bowl - as long as you only turned the tap a little.

My mother turned it a little - then tried to turn it off by going the other way. Each turn delivered a bowlful of rice bubbles onto he single bowl, which started to overflow. In panic she twisted the tap back and forth and managed to give herself two more bowls-worth - this time delivered even further by gravity onto the table, her feet and the floor. Then she finally stopped turning the tap when it was midway between two sides of the divider - two more bowls of cereal.

It was hilarious but it took her four days to be willing to attempt it again.

On Day 3 we arrived at the Isna Lock. There was a long long queue of massive boats waiting to go through the lock, and we had to tie up in the middle of one of the more uninteresting bits of river. Within minutes of docking the shouting started.

"Hello. Hello!!"

We were surrounded by small boats - a flotilla of frantically rocking dinghies with two or three boys balanced on the boats and waving large fabric objects. Most were galabayehs. These are the long garments worn by men in the streets in some communities, and by women for casual dressing in the homes or at family parties. the ships all have galabayeh nights, and all of us knew that that was the next day. If a passenger appeared looking over the edge of the top deck, or on their balcony, the boys started hurling up the bags. Many people did buy - intrigued as much by the payment and delivery systems as by the objects theselves.



If you didn't want the contents you threw the bag back. There were a few desperate lunges to catch them as throws went wide of the small boats, but the plastic bags, on the whole, kept out the water and helped the bags to float until they were retrieved.


Some boys were sitting on the bank nearby.


We had watched for a while, had lunch, and watched boys at almost our level - the dining room was half below the water line. One held up a large scarf for sale and blocked the light for a few minutes.


We decided that we would head for our room. We had had a very early morning start with a dawn visit to the temples as Luxor and Karnak and my mother was weary.

She lay down to read and was asleep in seconds. I picked up my book and went onto the balcony. You could still hear the boys calling to other boats nearby and so that they would not wake her I closed the door behind me.

It slid very quietly then went 'Snick'.

It was definitely an OhNosecond. Tentatively and with trepidition I tried the door.

Very very locked. It was not going to budge.

I sat down in a corner chair and started to read. It was all fine. The weather was perfect and I had a plan. I would wait an hour while she slept then knock on the door and she would wake up and let me in.

Three minutes later one of the boys on a boat spotted me and they swarmed over. Three boats bobbed beneath our second storey deck and the bags started to fly through the air.

"Where are you from" - attempted in about seven languages until I relented and told them I was Australian. I lobbed a few bags back - and most landed in the boats. Some came straight back while others tried other products. At one stage about four flew at me simultaneously and I decided that I was not having fun.

I told them to go away as I wanted to read and I was not going to buy but it didn't seem to get through. I looked along the boat towards the bedroom window where my mother slept. I tried to reach along the boat to the window to tap on it. No way - my arm was about one hand too short.

I tipped up my head to the upper decks as I could hear people moving around. "Hello" I called, very loudly.

"No" - said someone somewhat curtly, "We don't want to buy anything."

I belted open handed on the glass door. My mother is somewhat deaf and had been resisting wearing the hated hearing aids. I belted for what seemed a long time before she heard me. I saw her emerge, slightly staggery, in that 'just woken from a deep sleep' mode and head towards the wrong door - the front door of the suite. For a wild moment I thought she was going to leave through that one - with her locked out in the corridor and me locked out on the balcony.

But - she realised and rescued me.

Enjoy some photos.

Just cruising......


Boys in a mini-felucca with a load of fodder


Cows on the mudflats


The rocks and sand behind


Washing up


Villages and mudflats


Fishermen in the evening


Almost dark, and an appropriate time to sign off!



Blogger Helen from Canberra said...

Hi Jenny,

The cruise up the Nile sounds wonderful, I do envy you. it's 34o in the ACT today.

Cheers Helen

12:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenny what a wonderful trip, I too envy you. Until I began to read your blog I had no interest in Egypt and no desire ever to travel there Thank you for changing that view. The photos are great.

Judy, Tassie

1:59 pm  
Blogger Sam Bowker, somewhere distant and exotic. said...

Outstanding yet again Mum, great to see the photos on Flickr as well as in the post. Love the one of the scarf selling blocking out the sun, and the luxuriant green growth between the river and the desert.

I seriously think there are several quilts on this theme that need to be made.

Looking forward to seeing it myself immensely,
Love, FBS.

7:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I were your mother! What a wonderful time she is having, and Sam is right about the quilts.

Thankyou for this.

Margaret in NZ

1:27 pm  
Blogger Helen said...

Really enjoyed reading about Egypt. The last time someone told me of their holiday there he couldn't find a nice thing to say. It's all in the eye of the beholder, obviously. Thankyou.

7:58 am  

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