Day 6 – Abu Simbel and Kom Ombo

Just as we suspected, waking at 3:45 AM and leaving the boat at 4:30 was just as we imagined… a little slice of heaven! In the darkness, we maneuvered through the desert, hitting several police checkpoints along the way, slowing down for dozens and dozens of speed bumps (topes in Mexico). We are used to them but not in the quantity we experienced. Some of us (I won’t say who) just flies over them in Mexico but the van slows down to a crawl to go over each one of them.

The van held us, another couple, our guide and two drivers, who would be alternating the driving responsibilities. There was little to see, other than construction equipment to add two more lanes so the two-lane road would eventually become four lanes. The view is almost totally sand and a few buildings, probably housing the construction workers. Otherwise, it is a sea of beige.

We finally made it to our destination and it was quite amazing. Abu Simbel was named in a funny way. A young boy, named Simbel, found the original statues and asked his father (abu in Arabic) about them. Ultimately, that became the name of this incredible carving.

Originally located at the bottom of the mountain, it was moved once the Aswan Dam was built or else it would have been under water. By cutting the statues into smaller sections, they were moved and resurrected higher up, with a man-made cap to the mountain. Outside, as well as inside, there are many statues of Ramses II and his wife, Nefertiti, depicted in various sizes. The one on the outside of the temple dwarfs humanity. Although he didn’t think of himself as a king, he considered himself a god. I guess that is an elevation in status. Hence, he is everywhere, both outside and inside!

We returned to the van and drove another three hours back to Cairo. With not much to see, we couldn’t keep awake, but the uncomfortable seats didn’t make it easy to sleep. Bleary eyed, we returned to the boat in time for another uninspiring lunch.

We thought we possibly could take a nap and definitely tried. However, at 5:00 PM, our new guide met us for our tour of Om Kumbo, a short walk from where our boat was docked. It was built around 2,500 years BC. As an Egyptian temple, not one built by the Greeks or Romans, it depicts an interesting mix of myth, legend and modernity. For example, there are carvings of medical instruments for surgeries, childbirth, dental, and a variety of ailments. They were quite advanced for their time. Afterwards, we went next door to the Crocodile Museum, where there are at least a dozen mummified crocs. Considered to be dangerous and evil, they were caught, embalmed, wrapped, and placed in caskets. Strange, but true.

Back to the boat for dinner, this time with an Oriental theme. Actually, It more middle Eastern and finally more edible. I found dishes that were actually tasty and edible. Time for an early sleep because we have an early morning call to visit Edfu, the oldest Egyptian temple and the home of our guide. If we thought we would be relaxing and sleeping in, we were sorely mistaken!

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