Luqman's Day 9 - Not as Simbel as I had hoped…
Now since day 3 of the Egypt trip ended well with my experiences in the Nubian village being extremely fulfilling, I had high hopes for day four. The villagers were extremely hospitable and welcoming, and I enjoyed the purity of their culture and the unique blend of their indigenous Kemetic culture mixed with the Islamic culture that came centuries later. The mixture made for wonderful customs, dress, and decoration on their beautiful homes. But after enjoying this experience, I got a tad of forewarning from my body that night. I had a slight feeling that reminded me of that sick feeling on the train two nights before. I prayed that I was just paranoid and ignored it in hopes that I would sleep it off. But boy was I naïve. We were to wake up to go to Abu Simbel at around 3:15 that next morning. I stayed up late blogging and got to sleep around 2:45 but woke up feeling pregnant. I say this because I my stomach was quite inflated and I had acute pains. I felt terrible… I got up cursing all food and drink and praying that the feeling would pass. However, whatever happened, I was going to give birth before I gave up the chance to go to Abu Simbel, which I felt would be one of the highlights of my trip, especially after coming this far and being unsure if I would ever be fortunate enough to return. I put on my poker face and loaded the bus hoping for the best but preparing for the worse.
Abu Simbel houses two very famous temples. One is of Ramses II, who is arguably one of the best rulers of all time considering the prosperity of the Egyptian (Kemetic) civilization during his approximately 67 years of rule. He built numerous temples and spread his name all throughout the kingdom and defeated several enemies of the time. The other was dedicated to his wife Nefertari, a very famous figure in her own right. The temples were actually dismantled and reassembled on higher ground by the government when the Aswan Dam's construction created a man-made lake that threatened to submerge them forever. Despite all this history, they were still a 2.5-hour bus ride away, and I honestly didn't know if I could make it.
Two minutes into the bus ride, I wanted to get off and walk back. I could not imagine surviving it. The trip was much rockier than I imagined, and I was in the back seat so the bumps were magnified even more. I believe there were 3,238 bumps that we hit during the drive, and I literally felt every one. I may have lost count a couple of times, but it was either because I nodded off or because I just went into shock and passed out. Either way, every time I was awake I was trying to make a deal with God (if you just get me through this one, I will never do…again). Well I have some dealing to do because surely enough we made it and I felt no better. I did feel accomplished though. I got out and summoned all my strength to go through the beautiful temples. I wish I was healthier as my effort to enjoy the wonders was halfhearted. I was also dismayed to learn that again pictures were outlawed inside the temples. Nevertheless, I went through in very rushed fashion because we only had an hour and a half before needing to reload that cursed, bloody bus to face those 3,238 bumps again. The detail inside the temples was stunning, with meticulous scenes of Ramses various offerings to the gods and his crowning from other gods as their equal- a god on earth. He was shown smiting his enemies via chariot and crushing those who rebelled under his feet. The paint on the walls and ceilings was still eerily vivid despite the fact that the paint job was 4,000 years ago (I want to see Maaco make that guarantee). However, I was extremely touched by the temple dedicated by Ramses to the beautiful Nefertari. It was amazing cause you really could see how fine she was after all this time. Of course, she was shown giving offerings and being deified as well, with the most beautiful scene being her crowning by Isis and Hathor themselves. She also had the inscription "the sun rises for the beauty of Nefertari" in Hieroglyphics dedicated by her royal husband. I swear that is better than any Hallmark card I ever read, and people seem to think chivalry is dead. Well obviously not in the motherland.
After this great experience, I was reminded of reality when I got back on the misery boat and drove back in another 2.5-hour trip of bouncing and fainting, but thank goodness I made it back. We first stopped at a perfumery where Egyptians showed us how they made scents from pure flower essences, explaining that Western perfumes used majority alcohol and water, while their essences were 100% pure (as was proven by his putting fire to a bottle of one of the essences). We were given samples of wonderful essences, popular fragrances, and even some ancient recipes, including one rumored to be invented by Nefertari herself to woo Ramses to her side (also said to have other side effects that would have to be discussed offline). Well as seen by his willingness to build her a temple, this stuff works. After learning about aromatherapy as well, we made our respective purchases and left for the boat. I blacked out for several hours and dreamed of a happy place where people don't have to eat so they never get sick, but rather they just imagine being full and it happens. I woke up reminded that this was the real world and by then it was time for dinner. I skipped it as I did the other two meals, and was later surprised to find out that someone ratted on me and I had a birthday cake dedicated to me at the meal. My group mates brought me the remnants of the cake and I forced a little down as my condition was slightly improving. They then sung to me and adorned me with small gifts (favorite was a book from out tour guide and 6 pence from the lovely Brits). It showed me that the best things in life are free and never contain virus-inducing bacteria. I then vowed to be more careful in my dietary habits for the rest of the trip as I knew it was very easy to relive the nightmare of my birthday. Thus, I said a small prayer for my stomach and small intestine and retired for the night trying to catch up on rest before another full day of temples and fun. I hope that I have learned my lesson, but in case I didn't and get sick again, it's been real. I will have to retire and become a Bedouin living off dates and scorpion tails. Otherwise, I hope I make it to the next one to share more of my experience with whoever is interested.