We decided to spend a coup!e more days in the Nubian village waiting on a friend. She was on her motorcycle in Sudan and headed our way. Border crossing issues and a cracked rim kept her traveling very slowly.
During the day we would dream of travel before the plague disrupted the world. The other times we would explore the island and visit with the Nubians that lived on the island. Theirs was a story of despair. Recent history has been tough on them. Displaced by conflict and then the building of the Aswan High Dam. The villages along the Nile flooded to form Lake Nasser, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. Then, in 2011, the Revolution to obtain their freedom, which ended up destroying tourism. Then CoVID. With so many dependant on tourism, it is a terrible plight.
As I walk the island I see smiling faces, always a “Hello”, and a ” Welcome to Egypt “. I see mud huts which were built after the dam was built along with some houses for tourists to stay on Elephantine Island in the Nubian village, across the Nile from Aswan. Children playing in the narrow dirt paths between dried mud homes that lay scattered on the island, the road of the people, donkeys and goats. People going about their lives. Cleaning the constant dust and sand away from inside the open windows and doors, hanging at abuse angles from rough cut beams. The used cleaning water being thrown into the dirt street, creating momentary mud puddles for cats to drink from. Mothers with scarves, tightly wrapped about their heads, teaching children how to ride a bike while their husbands work hard in the city. I ask a woman if I could take a picture of her and her son. ” Yes, of course”, was the reply. After, her and her family wanted to look at the photo. With big smiles and laughter, they approved.
We found a small cruise ship going from Aswan to Luxor, north along the Nile. It was a beautiful ship, circa 1940’s, with elegant leather seating, polished dark woods and an elegant dining room. The rooms were more like a hotel suite than the cruise ships that ply the Caribbean. We would board in two day time for the all inclusive, 5 night trip up the Nile for US$50/day.
In the mean time we found another great house, the Mango House, for another night. It was a new family run hotel, still in the construction phase. It is the middle of the island with a relaxing walled garden to relax in and have tea.
We also found the Bob Marley restaurant and guest house with a fabulous vibe. With colorful Jamaican paint of red, green and yellow and portraits of Bob Marley and “One Love” adorning the walls, we climbed to the fifth floor. The seating area is covered and offers 360° views, providing guests incredible views of the river, Aswan and the west bank, with sunsets happening on the horizon in the sands of the desert.
We had a couple drinks and watched the sun setting and as the evening lights flickered to life across the city, ordering an incredible meal of Tangine fish and another of Tangine chicken. Tangine is a North African stew of spiced meat and vegetables prepared by slow cooking in a shallow earthenware cooking dish with a tall, conical lid. Our host was in the proper Jamaican style with a great Jamacian accent. With long dreadlocks down to his waist it was the perfect setting. Actually, the atmosphere and food were so good, we came back two nights in a row.
The following day we boarded the ship that would sail to Luxor. It would stay docked for a day so we had another day to relax, drink on the top deck while watching life in Aswan.