Surprisingly we did not have to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch a plane to Abu Simbel like all the other Contiki tours had to. I skipped the cruise’s breakfast and ate my cereal on the bus. We drove to the airport in Aswan. We went through security which was a metal detector and xray machine. Our waters were allowed in. Sherif showed us a picture of Nefertari that we would see in the temple. He also complimented my dress. He had us sit down and he gave us some background info on the temples. I wanted to look around at the shops in the airport, but he said we didn’t have time. So I chose the bathroom instead as did some of the other girls. We ran straight from the bathroom to our gate. We were boarding!
Once on the plane I realized that I was on the wrong side of the plane to see Abu Simbel. I needed to be on the left side. Sitting to the right of me was an Arab man who didn’t seem very nice. To the left of me was Janelle. Then Sherif calls me and asks me to move. He has me take an empty seat in the row behind him on the left side of the plane. He moved me so I could see Abu Simbel. Lexi moves and sits next to me. The plane ride was smooth. They offered us water. I got a great picture of Abu Simbel from the air. I played some American music for Lexi. We landed after what felt like only 15 minutes, but was really over 30 minutes.
Abu Simbel from the air
We got on a shuttle bus to take us to the main airport. Then a bunch of us ran to the ladies room. We boarded a coach bus which we shared with the Trafalgar group. We drove to a little food area and had to walk from there. The walk to the temples was hot and grueling. I felt like I was melting. So I joked around and prayed to Shu (the wind god) and at that moment a gust of wind hit my dress. The light breeze stayed with us! I turned a corner and there was Ramesses’ Temple. I was in awe. It was so incredible! We took some pictures then we went to a “shaded” area with a bench to listen to Sherif. He talked to us about the moving of the temples and the alligator that walked right up to people at night during the light and sound show. He asked us who wanted to buy the Abu Simbel pictures for 20 LE. I told him that I wanted them. Then he let us wander around for an hour.
The girls and I headed to the right aka Nefertari’s Temple first. It was breathtaking. We took a lot of pictures of the outside. We wandered around the inside of the temple and examined all the glyphs. Everyone was trying to sneak pictures, but I was too scared to. I finally worked up enough courage to do so and right when I went to grab my camera I saw the guy coming. Scott got caught and the temple guy deleted the pictures. See the pic below of him getting caught. Towards the entrance I started to read the hieroglyphs to Janelle. The temple guy’s face lit up when he heard me. He asked me if I could read them and I said yes. Then he went on and on in Arabic about me. He took my arm and guided me to the famous image of Nefertari and made me rub her lotus flower a couple of times. You are not supposed to touch anything so I was shocked he wanted me to touch the walls. On our way out he asked if I wanted a picture with the ankh. I did, but didn’t want him to ask me for money. I thanked him in Arabic and he wished me blessings in both languages while bowing his head towards me. The little Arabic I could understand, his behavior, and what I wound up finding out from others made me realize that he thought I was Nefertari’s Ka. A Ka is an Egyptian’s double. There are stories about people’s Ka’s tricking people into believing they are the original. Maybe that would make sense as to why the gods granted me wind when I asked for it. 😉
Picture from Sonja
We then headed to Ramesses’ Temple. We took more pictures and I looked at some of the glyphs on the outside. The entrance way had Ramesses statues/pillars that were made to look like Osiris. We looked at all the famous scenes like Ramesses on the chariot shooting an arrow and smiting his enemies. There were back rooms as well that were covered in glyphs from floor to ceiling. Some of the back rooms smelled like something died in them. We started to get hot and dehydrated so we decided to head back.
The walk back was uphill and was torture. At that point it was the middle of the day and the sun was beaming. We finally made it to the rest area and were so happy to see water and food even if it was overpriced. I bought a water and a kit kat. We took seats with Sherif and filled him in on our temple experience. We then went to the bathroom where we had to pay. We waited a while for Paul and Mike. We eventually gave up. We walked through a row of vendors who liked my galabiya and didn’t try to sell me stuff when I told them no thank you in Arabic. At the top of the hill was Paul and Mike. Sherif got into a bit of a tiff with Paul. We boarded the bus and headed to the airport.
Security was a joke this time. We got our tickets and used the bathroom. This time I was on the left side of the plane. I was between Meg and Mat. Aussie sandwich. They gave us water again. Meg, Mat, and I spent most of the time talking about Australian politics and how it is compulsory to vote in Australia. The conversation was interesting, but the 3 of us were scared because the plane was experiencing extreme turbulence for the entire flight. The plane couldn’t land soon enough for the 3 of us. It was because of the intensity of the heat. We were all so thankful to land. We all felt a bit queasy.
*The picture below was sent to me by Contiki because when I came back from Egypt I sent Sherif a NY Yankees shirt. He’s wearing it in Abu Simbel below.