The hilarious comedian driver with 25 imaginary children drove us from Luxor to Aswan in a minibus. This time, he was mercifully succint.
Halfway to Aswan we stopped at the Edfu temple. I was pretty impressed with Edfu, a newer temple from the Ptolemaic Period dedicated to Horus. It is a few thousand years younger than Hatshepsut Temple and very well preserved. It even had a roof. It fell into disuse a few hundred years after it was built when non-Christian worship was banned and it was gradually buried in under 12 metres of sand.
As we left Edfu, we once again lost Bob. When we found him he was dressed up in a galabeya, the traditional loose ankle-length robe worn by some Egyptians. The salesman was looking very pleased with himself and offered us the “very low price” of 700 Egyptian pounds for the garment. We declined and attempted to extricate dad from the situation with a speedy escape, but our bus driver of many children was no where to be found. While we waited, the vendor stuck to us, lowering the price in drip and drabs. I offered to buy it for 100 pounds. The salesman swore up and down that he had paid 160 for it. He was either a horrible business person or lying through his teeth. He did end up selling it to me for my original price of 100 Egyptian pounds although he sulked and stalked away, only to return, once again cheerful, with more galabeyas for sale. Fortunately the bus driver turned up and we escaped.
It turned out the galabeya came in very handy at our next resort. It was 41°C and the cool cotton galabeya was dad’s garment of choice. He wore it every morning for the rest of the trip. He likes it so much he asked Mom to find him pattern and make him a few more, including a winter version.
Once more in the minibus, our driver offered to stop at Kom Ombo, another temple, but we were all tired and a bit templed out so we unanimously passed.
Somewhere along the way, Richard said the words I’ve learned to dread… “You’re not going to believe this…”
He’d booked the hotel for the wrong day.
He gave us a crooked smile, no doubt hoping we would be amused. Look what Richard has done now, chuckle, chuckle. Aw, shucks.
We stared at him balefuly.
He looked down and beavered away on his phone and managed to book another room at the same hotel for that night.
The hotel was stayed at was called the Ekadolli Nubian Guesthouse and it was on the west bank of the Nile in a Nubian village called “Nubian Village.” It looked like it had seen better days but it was a very good price. The room we were first given was a bit reminiscent of a prison cell with no windows, not a great look for a hotel room, but we were grateful to even have a room after the mix-up. Then, without us even asking, they offered to move us to a couple of much nicer rooms on the top level for the same price.
The food at Ekadolli was absolutely amazing. We didn’t order, they just brought out a selection of deliciousness. The top floor also had a large open terrace where I could lie down and watch the stars. That night I watched the stars for about 30 seconds and before I dragged myself to my room and collapsed into bed, exhausted.
The next day was an early start and then off to Abu Simbel. The guesthouse had packed us a breakfast of eggs, bread and cheese for our journey. Abu Simbel was an impressive temple but this one came with a three-hour journey on each side and at 5am start which dulled the impact. If you are going to make the journey to Abu Simbel, I recommend doing it first, before you’re templed out. The artwork was beautiful but we were not allowed to take any photos inside, which I just find painful.
Abu Simbel almost ended up under a lake. In the 1960s, the Aswan High Dam was being planned which would have caused the two temples at Abu Simbel to be submerged underwater. They were cut into 16,000 blocks and moved 200 metres to the top of the cliff where they were reassembled at a cost of a cool $40 million. Everything was put back in the same position and facing exactly the same angle. It’s impressive. I struggle to put together an Ikea table.
We stopped for lunch in the Abu Simbel village. Our driver volunteered to get us food at Egyptian prices rather than getting extortionate touristy crap. We had five felafel sandwiches and two bottles of water for 25 Egyptian pounds (about $2 Canadian) and it was absolutely delicious.
We got back to the hotel in the sweltering desert heat. Sitting under the ceiling fan was like sitting under a blowdryer. We unanimously decided to move to a hotel with a pool. We felt bad telling our host, who had been lovely and accommodating, but we were seriously melting.
Later in the afternoon our host took us on a tour of the Nubian Village and a Nubian house. I was in a better mood, knowing that I would be able to jump into a pool tomorrow, so I was super excited to get out and do some photography. My dad and Richard came out as well while mother wisely abstained.
The village turned out to be a market with mostly the same touristy crap we’d seen everywhere, although I found some nice dried herbs. I did buy some calendula after a hard haggle to get the price down to a reasonable level. I would have bought more but I just didn’t have the energy to bargain. It was that kind of heat that just sucks the will to live right out of you.
The Nubian house turned out to be a touristy tea place with an extremely depressed looking crocodile in a relatively small cage. I really hate that kind of thing. I wanted to let it out but I didn’t want to get arrested or be responsible for a vengeful crocodile massacre. I think the heat was addling my brain. We refused tea.
Our guide took us to the bank of the Nile and offered to take us on a boat ride. At this point I was very grateful that my dad dislikes boats so I could totally throw him under the bus.
“I’d love to go but my dad can’t do boats,” I said, trying to sound regretful.
We headed back to the hotel via a “shortcut” that consisted of slogging uphill through thick sand. If this dude was trying to exact revenge on us, it was working. I stopped occasionally to “take pictures,” breath heaving and sweat collecting in some very uncomfortable places. I’m amazed any of those photos turned out since they were pretty much taken on autopilot.
We finally arrived back at the hotel, kicking sand out of our shoes and coated with a mixture of sweat and grit. I slogged up the stairs to see Mom lounging on the patio under a ceiling fan nursing a rum and coke on ice. I shot her a dirty/envious look.
An hour later, after a shower and change, sitting under the setting sun in the cooling air, eating another amazing meal, I was a bit sad we were leaving.
The next morning the hotel arranged a driver for us to take us to the Pyramisa Isis Corniche Resort. We picked this resort because it had a pool and we could just afford it. I asked for rooms near the pool and we were “upgraded” to rooms as far away from the pool as you can get, down a narrow cement corridor. Even though only we saw five other guests the whole time we were there. Turned out the hotel was fairly soulless with lacklustre food, wierdly dark bathrooms and bonus cockroaches in the room. It did have a pool though. And the location right on the Nile was fantastic.
I was a bit relieved to leave the next day. Back home to Alexandria. No more having to worry about the state of the hotel we were headed to or booking mix-ups. We got through the multiple layers of security at Aswan airport and settled for a short wait until our flight.
Except Rich couldn’t find his iPad.
He’d left it in the room. Aaaaargh. He loves that iPad. He’s on there all the time. If I was on a sinking ship and the iPad was on another sinking ship and he had a rescue boat, I’m not 100 percent sure he’d come get me first.
He called the hotel. No answer. I can make it to the hotel and back in time, he said. Only if you’ve developed a superpower and can freeze time. He managed to look panicked and degected at the same time. I hugged him. His hands were shaking.
Richard called the driver that had taken us to the hotel. Miraculoulsy the driver agreed to go to the hotel to see if he could get the iPad. We searched for the hotel’s phone number online with no luck. Then mom came through, dredging up a hotel business card with a working phone number from her purse and Rich managed to get through. They said they would look and hung up. Rich called back, they’d found the iPad and the driver arrived. The iPad was on it’s way! Rich would have to go out and come back in through three sets of security. The bus arrived to take us to the plane. Oscar and I waited while mom and dad boarded. Rich texted that he was on his way. A bus load of people had arrived at security just before Richard. The second and last bus pulled up. The last few people boarded. Oscar and I, at the end of the line, came up to the boarding agent. We need to wait for my husband, I explained in broken Arabic. I looked over my shoulder, I saw him!
With his iPad!!
We got on the plane, all of us and all of our devices.
I was truly amazed at this driver. He’d met us only once but he’d driven to the hotel and brought Rich his iPad even though a hundred things could have gone wrong and he very probably wasn’t going to get paid anything. The hotel might not have found the iPad. The flight might have left. The traffic might have been bad. Hotel security might not have let him in.
In any case, he did get paid, plus a very grateful tip. Plus a big unexpected hug from Richard.
If you ever need a driver in Aswan, here is one you can definitely trust:
Fared Abdallh Mohamed Salyn
Hand Stuff Nodu (Don’t ask me what this means)