The first day of our Nile tour we meet our tour mates – our two Sherwood Park friends, three folks from the US and four from the UK. All lovely people and the group gets along very well. And then we are off to the Valley of the Kings. Right away we notice we are on a major tourist trail. Hordes of folks, all different nationalities and languages, doing what we are doing. The Valley of the Kings has numerous tombs of the kings of ancient Egypt. We walk through three tombs, the best one being Ramses IV as it has some of the original colour on the walls. The walls are inscribed with scenes of the king doing various things – getting blessed by the gods, holding an enemy’s head in one hand and a dagger in the other, making offerings. Some of the inscriptions are of items that he will need in the afterlife – food, servants, a boat. We start to see the same images in a number of tombs as the artists would “copy and paste”.
Our next stop is one I am looking forward to. It is the temple of Queen Hatshepsut. It is built into the side of a mountain and blends in very nicely. The architect was ahead of his time in the design of the temple. It is massive and commanding. Unfortunately, after Hatshepsut died, Tuthmoses III, her son and successor, destroyed a lot of her images because she basically stole his rule from him, long story.
As we drive through the countryside we pass fields of sugar cane. Sugar cane is grown for five years, then after the harvest, the debris is burned, tilled into the earth and then alfalfa is grown for 3 to 4 months. This process revitalizes the soil. After the alfalfa is harvested, sugar is planted again. The other crops we see are corn, bananas, date palms, wheat, barley and household veggies.
We visit a number of other temples and tombs over the two days and now we have a change of pace. We are sitting on a dahabiyat, a flat bottomed boat with a water level deck for eight guest cabins and the upper deck with dining area and lots of lounge seating. We are being towed up the Nile by a tug boat and when the wind picks up, the sails are unfurled. We have an easy day today, mostly cruising down the Nile with one stop at a temple along the way.
Our stop is in Edfu, to wander through the Temple of Horus built by Ptolemy III, starting in about 200 BC. The story goes something like this:
The gods Osiris (good guy) and Seth (bad guy) fought, and Seth killed Osiris and buried him in the Nile. Osiris’s wife, Isis, and her sister, Nephthys, searched and searched for him and found his coffin in the reeds next to the Nile. They prayed to the gods and he came alive. Isis and Osiris lived in the reeds, away from everyone and soon had a child, Horus. Seth found them and fought Osiris again and killed him again. Seth cut Osiris’s body up in 16 pieces and spread them over Egypt. Once again Isis and Nephthys searched and found all the pieces and through, magic if you will, brought him alive again but alive in the afterworld. Horus grew up, became a man and sought out Seth and battled him, killing him.
The temple has a huge wall with scenes of this battle between Horus, the god, and Seth, a hippo. Hippos were used to depict evil, bad guys. Anyway, hippo looses, good god wins.