July 3, 2006|Posted in: Uncategorized
Another post from Mia as she travels the world. It gets a bit, uh, gritty, so enjoy 😉
ahhh, i am back in civilization!! since i last wrote you, we rode a train down from Cairo. 13 hours! ack! we all rolled out our sleeping bags because the AC was on high and i actually made an attempt at using the horrible stall of a toilet and was almost drowned in toilet water. (more on that later. but can we just say for now, yuck!) but once we arrived in Aswan, oh my gosh… BEAUTIFUL! i absolutely loved it. it was gloriously hot and our hotel was gorgeous. we just swam and relaxed and went to eat with the Nubians. that was a little more touristy than i had hoped but at least i feel like i met some proper africans.
then we woke up at 3 am and journeyed out to the Abu Simbel temples, that Ramses II built for himself (Because he was a god AND a king) and his wife, Nefertari. Really really cool. i’m starting to see so many amazing temples — i don’t know which to like better but i can say that it’s pretty awesome to have seen so many that you can actually have a preference.
but THEN came.. the true adventure. We got on the Felucca boat (i can’t remember if i told you but it’s like a sailboat, no motor or anything, just zigzags back and forth across the Nile, using the wind and sails) and we have spent the last 3 days and 3 nights on it (docking at night and to pee). we went swimming (“bathing”) in the river, eating authentic nubian/egyptian food cooked right on the boat (lots of eggs, potato dishes, really delicious fish … still with the eyes! i picked them off. can’t be that exciting all in one go) and hanging out basically.
i read 2 whole books, took tons of pics, watched the sun go down every night. oh my god, the colors of the sunset on the Nile just take your breath away. they are really incredible. as relaxing as it all sounds, it got a bit tense as well. we can’t stand up (really) on this boat and it’s super hot and there’s only so much to do. everyone handled it really well but by the 2nd morning, we pretty much figured out that everyone’s stomachs weren’t doing too great. (either too much bathroom or not at all, if you get my drift.) it really made it frustrating, especially because most of the time, you were just trying to find the best bush you could squat behind. there was a bit of performance anxiety, too, because the men and boys just hang around and watch (esp. when we are swimming) and we can’t go too far away because we might get harassed.
in the end, all we could do was laugh about it. it’s amazing how comfortable everyone gets, talking about their poo, when there is nothing else to do!! (gross, i know, but my life for the last 3 days). one quick story: at one point all the girls trekked up this hill on one of the islands that we were staying and found ourselves in a mango orchard. TONS of trees so we were like “yes, this is great!” and we all kinda went off to find our own little spots. well, one of the girls starts shrieking because this guy had snuck up on her (to watch) and so we were all trying to keep our eyes out for him. well i had a good view of him but he couldn’t see me so i was just taking my time and all of a sudden, i see out of the corner of my eye this OTHER guy behind me! nice view, huh, buddy?! how disgusting.
anyway, our crew of 3 nubian guys (captain kanga, crocodile and hassan) were AWESOME and on our last night they built a big bonfire on the beach and got out bongo drums and we all sang and danced. it was perfect. (hilariously, there were variations on “a lion sleeps tonight” and “she’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes.” did you know that’s actually “she’ll be coming by Felucca when she comes?” or “drinking stella beer-a when she comes?” it is.)
To say the least, fun as it was, we were all VERY excited to get back to civilization so this morning we sailed into Edfu and “cleaned up” (face wipes and brushing teeth with bottled water). there were a bunch of cruise ships docked right next to ours so Hamada told us if we wanted a proper toilet (WANT one!) they would let us on one of the ships. so we are all scrubby and haven’t looked in a mirror for 3 days and are all bloated and sick and stumble onto the ship. it’s like a proper hotel with a front desk. the guy at the desk didn’t understand what we wanted and definitely had no idea where we had come from, and after we had gone through every name for toilet we could think of, i just pointed at the bathroom door and he shooed us in. i was joking that 3 days on a boat had made us so primitive that all we can do is point and grunt.
We went to Edfu temple, built for and by Horus, son of Isis and Osiris, and learned some absolutely incredible stories (though at this point, i was so keeled over with stomach pains, i had to do some very good “that’s fascinating” faces), and survived the 3-hour drive to Luxor… which is where i am now! hurray!
We showered, did some laundry, watched some TV and now Internet. we are going to eat and then go see some… MORE temples! plus a little shopping too 🙂 it’s just great. i’ve having a blast. we’re now into our more touristy part because the next 2 towns we go to are very party happy and aren’t so particular about … well, anything really. so that will be fun.
anyway, i should dash. i love love love you and will try and write again, maybe in Hurghada or when we get back to Cairo. i can’t believe i still have a week left here! it’s awesome.
(my Nubian name is Manga…. as in Mango. because that’s all i wanted to drink/eat on the boat!)
(p.s. if you want to say someone is silly, you say “Inte Manga! — you are a mango! or “inte tin” — you are a fig! ha ha 🙂
Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.