The Nile is the heart and soul of Egypt.
And sailing in a felucca is a magic way to embrace it. The sound of the water lapping the boat is so soothing and the cool breeze off the river, a welcome relief from the heat of Aswan.
We had a leisurely start to the day yesterday with a much needed sleep in and breakfast on the rooftop before a midday start on the Felucca. I had been a bit worried about spending two days on a boat, but really we were only on it for a few hours before stopping at the Nubian village of our Captain for dinner and to spend the night.
The village is awesome. The house is a traditional design - mudbrick, rendered and painted in two-tone blue. Its the cutest thing. The house is designed around an east-facing courtyard (towards the river) with a high wall and rooms facing into the courtyard on three sides.
The family are so warm and generous. They have restored my faith in the Egyptian people especially after the past few days of being harrassed in markets and every tourist attraction. I dont understand how it is an offence on their culture for our men to look upon their women, but it seems perfectly acceptable for their men to harrass me and call out and whistle and make offensive overtures. But again I digress.
The Nubian people are the original inhabitants of upper Egypt and Sudan. They are more African in appearance, aboriginal almost, though with finer features. Their traditional culture differs slightly from the Arabic. They are more matriarchal for starters, but also more conservative. Many of them were relocated downstream to Aswan when their villages were submerged with the building of the High Dam. The villagers are a beautiful people, quite different to their vendor brothers.
I ate camel. Truly. It was delicious, like a beefy venison taste. It went perfectly with the spiced chicken, bechamel macaroni, potatoes cooked in tomato sauce and brown rice. I really appreciated a home cooked meal. Its been hard to know what to choose in the local eateries in terms of hygiene (and sometimes ingredients). The food on the boat has been delicious too, though I always have a wary eye out to make sure theyre using fresh water, not a bucketful out of the Nile!!
But I neednt worry. The boat is immaculate. Everything has its place, everything is washed down and put away,and everything sparkles. What is a Felucca, you ask? Its a traditional sailing vessel of the Nile, quite low, with a large sail. The deck is completely covered with mattresses and a canopy approx 1.5m overhead, so basically all there is to do is lie back and chill out. OK!!
We spent our second night on the boat after pulling into a sandy inlet. Another delicious meal later, we were treated to traditional Nubian drumming and singing around a campfire with some of the crew some several other feluccas that pulled in near us. Great fun! The sleep on the boat was a little trying though. More wafer thin mattresses and a surprisingly cold night after the heat of the day. As I was dropping off to sleep I felt something brush my hand and looked up to see a large rat scurrying along the edge of the boat. Choice! Sleepless night aside, we ate yummy pancakes for breakfast (not as good as Aaron's) and finished with another short sail.
I love it here on the Nile. Its an idyllic life. A slow, go with the flow life. A highly romantic notion I know, but our time on the river these couple of days has really resonated with me. I never really "got" sailing before, but I do now. Its the peace. Total bliss.