Saturday, December 27, 2008

Travel Blogging V

Dateline: Aswan, Egypt. Today we visited Abu Simbel. For me, Abu Simbel represents what I came to Egypt to see. The pyramids were fun to see but were, after all, big piles of cut stone. The work at Abu Simbel reflects the ancient Egyptian culture. These carvings and bas reliefs are spectacular, the size is truly grand, and the efforts that were made to save this treasure from the waters of Lake Nasser were herculean. The original work is around 3500 years old, and the talent displayed by the workers is nothing short of magic.

The ancient Egyptian esthetic is quite different from ours, or from that of the Renaissance, or anything in between. Having said that, they did a marvelous job of executing their esthetic, and didn't sign their work, not that authorship matters millennia later. I'm the original monolingual American and Abu Simbel made me wish I could read hieroglyphs. What stories those wall must tell, straight out like posters, if one could read the picture writing.

We are afloat on the Nile, aboard the M/S River Anuket, basically a hotel on a shallow draft motorized barge. We have been told that there are like 300 such ships cruising the Nile, and we've seen maybe 60 of them ourselves here in Aswan, which is the southern terminus of their cruise pattern. I gather there may be more on the upper Nile cruising Lake Nasser which is backed up by the Aswan High Dam. This lake extends southward into the Sudan.

I love river cruising, that is one of the main reasons we're here. We cast off and head north tomorrow, yesterday we went for a felucca ride in the Aswan area, very quiet and serene. I understand the attraction of sailboating, it is peaceful without the motor drone, almost magical to be literally airborne or borne along by the breeze. I remind any readers who would see pictures of our travels to go to which is the other DrC's blog.