Friday, November 2, 2007

Day 7: Felucca Boats

One more treat remains for us before dinner: our felucca boat ride. Feluccas are lovely, graceful, flat-bottomed sailboats with very tall sails that abound on the Nile in this area.


Most of the feluccas currently in service seem to be catering to the tourist trade, but later we were to see some that looked convincingly ratty, and which we assumed were still working boats.

We assembled at the side of the River Anuket away from shore, and the feluccas pulled right up alongside for us to climb in. The seats were shaded with a fabric awning,


and the river breeze felt cool and it was just lovely. It was about 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon by this time, so the light was going deep gold.

As we sailed around, we chatted with one another and with Ihab.


He ended up regaling us with a hilarious story about what happened 20 years ago when he went out to his family's farm near Cairo, on reclaimed desert land that hadn't been reclaimed that long. He ran into a small Egyptian wolf. Truly believing that story about how wolves only attack in packs, he shouted and threw stones at it. Surprise! It didn't run away; it growled and went for him. He "ran like a gazelle" back to his Jeep, but whoops! he'd left his key ring where he'd been working on some equipment. The Jeep was unlocked, so he had a refuge, but the wolf kept him "treed" until morning (and a desert night is freezing.) The icing on the cake here is that the next month he went through the exact same routine again, except this time the wolf curled up on the roof of the Jeep and slept there! Some people never learn.

Sailing around like this was just what I needed because it let me unwind from all the hurry-hurry-hurry of the past few days. Also, one of the big differences between Upper and Lower Egypt is the quiet. There are so many fewer people here, and no detectable industry, very little traffic, so there's not much pollution of any description, air or noise.

Here's the River Anuket seen from our felucca.


Pretty, eh? We sailed between Elephantine Island Kitchener's Island, and admired the Botanical Garden on the latter.


We got becalmed on the back side of Kitchener's Island and they had to send a motorboat to pull us out!

We also saw a little kid


in the tiniest little boat made out of tin, with stiff cardboard hand-paddles. He paddled over to the felucca and caught a free ride, hanging on to the side, until the boat driver made him let go.

When we got back to the River Anuket they met us with moist washcloths again, and then we scurried around getting ready for dinner. The dining room, by the way, is on the lowest deck, and its windows are only a little above water level.


Breakfast and lunch were buffet, with sit-down dinners usually having a choice of two entrees.

After dinner I caught the last 20 minutes of the Nubian Show in the Lounge. (There's entertainment almost every evening.) Dad stuck his head in the door but decided he'd rather get some sleep; I sat down in a chair in the back and was promptly drafted to participate in a silly dance number with a Nubian guy in a grass skirt. It was quite hilarious. There's a guy filming all this entertainment for a DVD that he'll burn and have ready when we debark; Dad is now going to have to buy one.

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