Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jewel of the Nile: Luxor II

The next morning we went to the Karnak Temple, which our tour guide Sal believes should be one of the ancient wonders of the world. I totally agree. It is 134 acres and required three separate foundations to keep it stable: basalt, granite and limestone. These foundations allowed the temple and its obelisks to remain upright after 4,300 years even through major earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Karnak Temple

Remember when I mentioned that new leaders of Egypt would have to fight a bull at their coronation ceremony?  Well, after they won, they would travel down the Nile to Luxor and come to this temple.  To further prove their worth, they would have to swim 42 laps around the pool and run 42 laps around the temple.

I loved walking around this temple.  I love all of the pillars, carvings and statues. 

Archeologists believe that one of the rooms was used to tell time.  Apparently light hits each pillar only at a certain time of day.  You can tell what time it is by counting how many of the pillars are lit.

We had some free time in the afternoon, so we made some gin and tonics, played some cards and sunbathed as the Nile floated by. Can you think of a more perfect afternoon?

View from the Nile
We passed several villages while floating down the river.  I noticed two main things: people seem very poor, and people seem very friendly.  Everyone--man, woman and child--waved to us as we passed.

That evening we had to go through a lock to get to Edfu.  This was a prime opportunity for villagers in boats to come sell their wares.  I've never seen anything like this before.  I'm glad Sal warned us in advance!  What happens is men in small boats row up to our ship and start calling to people on the top deck.  (They seem to be fluent in several languages.  I heard Spanish, Italian and English.) When they have your attention they throw you a plastic bag with something in in--usually a scarf or tablecloth or traditional Egyptian dress called a galabia.  You probably didn't indicate that you were interested in the item, but they threw it anyway.  Now it's up to you to either throw it back or buy it by putting money in the bag and throwing that back down.

I actually participated in this activity. Earlier in the trip I asked my friend Jon if he'd wear a galabia if I bought it for him.  I'm pretty sure he thought they'd be a lot more expensive than they were, so he said yes.  I found the tackiest, most sparkle-adorned women's galabia I could find and bargained with one of these sellers for it.  It was a lot of pressure to make the sale quickly because our boat was almost through the lock and we had no time to spare.  I finally got the seller to agree to a fair price of 35 EGP ($6), but I only had 40 and no change.  Long story short, we ran out of time so he threw me the galabia; I threw him the 40 EGP and we called it a day.  It was hilarious and totally worth it.  Don't you think?

Looking good in a Galabia

Read about our other stops along the Nile:
Abu Simbal
Edfu and Kom Ombo
Luxor I

1 comment:

  1. That is a crazy form of business! I guess it works for them because they have incredible aim.