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Adventures of a short vet

Elephantine Island

EGYPT | Tuesday, 22 June 2010 | Views [414]

View from the top of the sand-dune

View from the top of the sand-dune

After breakfast on the train we arrived in Aswan and headed to the Nile Hotel, which as the name suggested, looked out over the Nile. We stopped for a quick meeting in the restaurant, where a massive group of tourists all sporting matching T-shirts were sitting quietly while we cackled away at Sam retching after tasting some weird Asian tofu snack Shaun had been given by a new friend from the train. I really like our group.

We headed out into the sweltering heat for a very quick tour of the local banks, shops & ATMs, before heading back to the shelter of our air-conditioned hotel as the temperature climbed to a staggering 50 degrees Celsius. Though apparently the news never reports a temperature over 45 degrees or else people are allowed to take the day off work!

Pretty much spent the day sleeping, before heading over the Nile to take a motorboat tour around Elephantine Island, so named because the ivory trade used to take place there or because it's the shape of an elephant's tusk. We picked up our Nubian guide, an 80-year old legend who is mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide. He proceeded to regale us with the history of the island (most of which I promptly forgot) and we viewed the tombs and cartouches carved into the rock face, as well as the two flood indicators(nilometers) used to measure the levels of the Nile. We dropped him off before completing a circuit of the island and stopping at a café situated at the bottom of a massive sand-dune…which we then had to climb in order to take in the awesome view of the desert on one side and the Nile and Aswan on the other. It was hot work and we couldn’t wait to get back to the bottom and jump into the Nile. Shaun was the only one brave enough to dunk his head under water as we’d been warned against it by several friends and family members. The American girls decided to sit it out until they heard from Aly’s grandfather, a travel doctor. Shaun was happy to hear about the warnings AFTER he had jumped into the river. I then managed to leave my brand new travel towel hanging over a chair where I’d placed it to dry – hope they appreciated the “tip”!

We then hopped back on the motorboat and went back to the island (or the other side, I got a bit confused) where we joined a local family for a traditional Nubian meal. I’m becoming a big fan of vegetable tajeen slow-cooked in traditional clay pots. The local houses consist of several buildings containing the bedrooms, kitchen & bathroom, surrounding an open central square lined by concrete seats. It had a roofed section with mats on the ground that served as the lounge area. After stuffing our faces we were treated to a display of the local wares handmade by the women of the family – scarves, woven hats, and silk jangly caps. I ended up buying a bright striped scarf for EGP20 without bargaining, mainly because another Aussie from a different group bought one for the same price, but also because I didn’t feel comfortable bargaining in their home in front of everyone. Plus $4 for a handmade scarf is a pretty good bargain!

It was late by the time we headed back to the hotel, and we crashed out as soon as we could, aware that we had to get up at 3am the following day to catch the bus to Abu Simbel.

Tags: elephantine island, nilometers, nubian home

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