In the morning we go with him and his son in an open pick up down to the Nile to make a Nile cruise.
Of course, we attract a lot of attention because foreigners are only rarely seen on this side of the Nile, and so the children shout and wave friendly.
We are very happy, because a ride on a felucca is certainly a highlight of our trip. The morning air is cool and the wind freezes us, but to the Nile it is only a stone’s throw away.
On the shore there are several boats, including that of Ashraf. It was a gift from a friend to him and the Captain is enormously proud of his ship. On the boat all the preparations for departure are already going on. It is cleaned and polished, food is loaded on board and the pillows are placed.
Not only his son but also his cousin comes with us on this exciting Nile cruise. He is responsible for maintenance of the felucca, and he takes his job very seriously. He is passionately at work.
We can not help and thus we enjoy the atmosphere at the bank. A Nubian boy is scrubbing the deck. He is also the cook and he will spoil us culinarily. Our plan is to sail up the river Nile to the ancient dam, and we want to visit a village as well. Ashraf’s son is charming and already knows how to fascinate the ladies! Last but not least, the sail is hoisted. The captain himself is climbing up the mast. The hoisting of the sail requires not only skill, but also power, for everything must be done by hand.
The cabin boy pushes the boat from the shore. Now off we go on our Nile cruise. It will be sailed directly from the shore. There is no engine, as is common in sports or recreational sailing yachts. We learn much about the Nubians and the felucca. Ashraf tells us about the history of his people and the Nile.
Ashraf’s family on one hand lives in Egypt, on the other hand, in Sudan. Even the Sudanese part of his family owns feluccas, which transport goods on the Nile at Dongola. Feluccas have a long tradition on the Nile. Even in the days of the pharaohs they were built, were originally made of papyrus , and soon they have reached their present form, and since that time have not significantly altered.
We are fascinated by the felucca ride. Quietly the boat glides across the water. The landscape is passing slowly and steadily, there are interesting things to observe. Many new impressions collapse on us, occupy our thoughts. Many things Ashraf must explain, a lot is new to us.
Frantically boats with tourists pass, they have unfortunately not the time to navigate the Nile slowly and leisurely.
In many places, the dunes reach up to the banks of the Nile, only where the desert has been reclaimed by irrigation of farmland, it is green and allows survival.
Finally, we anchor at a Nubian village. The team remains in the felucca as we climb up to the Crocodile house. It is a typical Nubian mud house, which serves as a restaurant.
Bodo admires a crocodile, which is kept in a wretched dungeon. In the past there have been crocodiles here in this section of the Nile. Today, however, they are extinct here.
We refresh ourselves in the shade of the patio with a cool drink, before returning on board the felucca. The shoes must be put off before entering the felucca.
Now we go direction of the old dam. We are still less than 10 minutes on the river, when we run aground in a difficult part of the Nile.
Well, the boat has to be freed from this unfortunate situation. The captain leaves in this case first the sinking ship to save what can still be saved.
It really stucks heavily at the rock and they cannot get it off the rock. Thank God the body is not damaged and no water spills into the boat.
Finally, it is possible with united forces and violent swings to get it free from the rock.
The captain must strengthen himself after this horror with a cup of tea. Finally we were lucky.
The waters here are tricky. On one hand, the Nile is not very wide here due to a number of rocky islands thus strong currents prevail here, that squeeze through the rocks and take on a high flow rate. Furthermore, there are rapidly changing wind conditions and the captain has to maneuver the sailboat quickly and skillfully. Although it now goes downstream, we sail against the wind, making an incessant cruising necessary. Undeterred by the events the boy is preparing tea and makes himself ready for dinner’s preparation. It soon will be served.
We are approaching again the center of Aswan. Many boats anchor here. In the middle of the Nile there is the island of Elephantine. There is a so-called Nilometer. The Nilometer served to indicate the water level. Through a corridor the water gets to a basin where the measurement scale begins. They measured in an old Roman system. Elephantine Island can be reached from the center of Aswan with small ferries. There can be visited historic places of worship. Here also the great Nile cruisers anchor, Aswan is the last stop on the Nile, further up the river can no longer be sailed by these ships.
At full speed we are provided with the ingredients for dinner. Ashraf’s second boat comes to the felucca. Now the cook starts with dinner. We are surprised that there even is an oven at the felucca. The harness is stowed in the bow, the cooker runs on gas. For dinner we anchor on the banks of the Nile. The felucca is constructed that way it can get to almost any type of shore. Ashraf looks for an idyllic place.
On the couch cushions, a blanket is spread, we eat sitting on the floor as is usual with the Nubians. A tradition that has already maintained by the ancient Romans.
There are wonderful fish and delicious side dishes, what we did not expect and are happy about this surprise. We enjoy a delicious meal with great views of the Nile and the passing ships. Immediately after the meal we have to continue with our Nile cruise again, because the wind has subsided and we are proceeding with difficulty. Fishing boats we meet in the light of the slowly setting sun.
Sadness is coming up, it will be one of our last days in Egypt. Tomorrow is the day that is so much feared by us, we have to load our cars onto the ferry and our dog Tara must be left alone on the boat for two days.