We got back to the boat just in time for lunch. Another buffet. But I really cannot understand this business of drinks not being included, which actually meant water as well. And of course water bottles sold on board cost at least three times the normal price. But why should I be surprised? With the economic pinch everyone is trying to eke out a living whichever way they could.
Anyway, after lunch we went for the first session of our writing course which lasted 2.5 hours as we were going to visit the Luxor temple that afternoon. The course is very interesting and it is showing me a new and different style of writing. It is always good to learn something new. Although it IS pushing my comfort zone much farther than anticipated, I think I am starting to develop in ways I had not anticipated. By the end of the first session of that course I felt cross-brained. My brain actually ached. I had to concentrate a great deal and do a lot of work, and we were even given an assignment. There is no breezing through this course.
We were finally ready by 5 pm to go see the Luxor temple.
Unlike the Karnak, the Luxor temple is much smaller and has the most beautiful columns and statues. The unique thing about this temple is that it combines all three religions. It is an ancient Egyptian temple where Christians took refuge from the Romans when they were persecuted by them, and where they plastered over some wall paintings and added their own.
Then there is the Moslem imam who came from Saudi over 700 years ago and built his famous mosque on top of the, by then, half buried ruins of that temple. To this date this mosque is standing, has been renovated, and is actually still being used for prayers. A beautiful unification of all religions that have left their stamp on Egypt.
The Luxor temple was built very near the Nile and was quite often flooded when the banks of the river overflowed before the building of the High Dam. Many a pillar in that temple still shows the mark of where the water reached. But still it is one of the best preserved temples with the different capitals of the columns showing the two different states of a lotus flower, the opened lotus and the closed lotus.
It also has a statue of Ramses II with the face beautifully preserved, the features not marred or destroyed, either by time or by vandalism, or even by the ire of another King.By the time we finished our tour it was after sunset, when suddenly the lights were turned on and the temple took on a mystic beauty of its own, between lights and shadow, it’s majesty and mystery intermingling.
We had planned to go to the Sound and Light show at Karnak that evening, but by the time we were done we were so tired we opted to skip it and to visit that show in Aswan. We returned to the boat, had an early supper and by 11pm most of the group was as dead to the world as any of the kings whose temples we had visited that day.
This mural was on one of the walls in downtown Luxor and is very indicative of the times. It depicts totally covered up women in black, the way the MB were trying to get Egyptian women to dress, but with the slogan of “down with the constitution” and underneath that a message to Morsi saying “we are not slaves”. A very graphic rendering of the attitude of women, at the time of Morsi’s rule.
The revolution has had its effect on the economy of the country as a whole but here it is concretely displayed. Nowhere in the country is the economic crunch felt like in the sector of tourism. More than four million are out of work because of the dwindling tourism business. One very sad aspect is the practical complete stoppage of nearly 360 boats that used to ply the Nile from Luxor to Aswan and back in the most sought-after and famous Nile cruises. Now sadly, the majority are docked, unused and falling into disrepair. A very sad state indeed.
The first day of my Luxor visit was over, I was exhausted but quite happy with what progress I had accomplished, as over dinner, and after, I started bonding with some members of our group, getting to know them, and they me, discussing our art and our aspirations. A good day, where my comfort zone was pushed even farther than previously, and where I started to feel the pain of growth where my writer’s skills are now being challenged into development. A really good day.
To be continued …