Thursday, April 22, 2010

Felucca Cruise Down the Nile

In the morning, we boarded our felucca – a sailboat with a simple flat deck, complete with padding, pillows and a tarp over top so we could lounge in simple, shaded luxury down the Nile. Aswan was brutally hot but it was amazingly cool with the constant breeze as we sailed.

The whole day was meant for sailing and we would park for nighttime. This worried us bit as we thought we might get bored being on a boat all day long, however the day literally breezed by! We did a bit of snoozing, stopped for a swim in the Nile, a bit of ipoding and conversed with our fellow travelers.

It was also quite entertaining to watch the captains tilt the mast so we could slide under a bridge.

The felucca also had a tiny little space representing a kitchen – just a two-burner gas stove top and a 1.5 man bench where one of the two boat captains sliced and diced lunch, dinner and the following morning’s breakfast. And what a feast he could prepare! Combinations of rice, mashed potatoes, veggie stews, fried fish, fried chicken, soup, pita bread and more! Yum!

We were also really enjoying the company of our tour leader Hossam (or Sam, as we call him for short). He is Egyptian and just a fun guy to be around. At one point during the cruise he taught us how to write our names in Arabic. We were also all given an Arabic number to remember. Josh is demenya ( 8 ) and I am khamsa ( 5 ). Fun.

Before we knew it, it was time to anchor for the night at shore. All of the men were summoned to “build the temple” – AKA the toilet. They had to dig a 3-4 foot hole, over which they placed a metal-framed box with a western toilet seat screwed to the top. I have to admit, I was rather excited to have this little luxury instead of using the woods.

We had our dinner with candlelight, thanks to some clever lanterns made from the empty 1 liter plastic water bottles….it was the perfect touch (plus, there really wasn’t any electricity so it was the only choice!).

There were a couple other boats anchored with us so the evening was lively with several of the captains pulling out their drums and singing. But due to our stressful, long day (not!) we were happy to pull out the sleeping bags and call it a night. Everyone set up camp across our padded deck and we slept soundly (except for a bit of snoring from a couple people on board).

The next morning we were all up early at the sound of Mohammad, the second captain / chef, making breakfast – crepes! We had delicious crepes with honey, cheese and jam. And we even had our daily cups of coffee. But all good things must come to an end, so we all packed up, our boat crossed to the other side of the Nile and we jumped in a bus to take us to Luxor.

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