I would like to say that we are roughing it at the moment, but life on the boat has been incredibly relaxing. Thankfully, we dock at stops along the way to get a taste of the towns and the sites, but much of our day is spent lounging on the deck and observing life on the Nile. There’s no better feeling than to have nowhere to go and nothing to do but watch the fishermen go by in their wooden boats, wrapped in their caftans and headscarves to protect them from the sun’s rays. The flora along the banks, which are lush and fertile from the Nile waters, burst with green grasses, date palms, and mango trees. It stands in stark contrast to the rolling brown desert hills behind them.
We docked for the day at Kom Ombu, which has a temple ruin that dates back to the Ptolemaic times (approx. 332 BC) that was dedicated to the gods Horus (the falcon-headed god) and Sobek (the crocodile-headed god). This temple is extraordinary in that so much of the relief carvings have been preserved by the hot sands of the desert. It’s interesting not only because it is so well preserved, but also because you can find relief carvings on the walls of things like the Egyptian calendar and medical instruments, which include some very recognizable devices such as forceps, sponges, catheters, and bone saws. The ancient Egyptians were advanced in many ways and once again, I find myself ruminating over how slowly we’ve advanced when you consider what was already known thousands of years ago.
We enjoyed an amazing treat last night. While the passengers on the boat danced and played games, we were treated to a private, less-touristy tour of Kom Ombo. We followed our guide through an inconspicuous doorway—one we had passed earlier in the day but paid little attention to—and walked down a little pathway to a tower with a spiraling staircase. Upon ascending the tower, we were treated to a spectacular view of the temple ruins all lit up from below. Afterward, we received a private look at what old Egypt would have been like as the purveyor of a historic replica graciously opened his doors to us and allowed us to explore it privately. We enjoyed feeding his two hungry, white camels. It was fabulous to be able to do all of that alone, without the hordes of tourists that arrive on boats similar to ours.