Invited to the party

Upon our return to Aswan from Abu Simbel we stayed at a hotel which was on an Island in the middle of the Nile.  That evening we rode the water taxi across the Nile and met Mustafa (our tour guide) for our evening light and sound show at the Philae Temple Complex.  We climbed aboard the van and braved the Aswan traffic.  We were lead to a small fenced in area where we would wait to board yet again another water taxi to the island where the complex was.  As we were waiting in a small grassy courtyard there we began to hear the evening call to prayer.  Muslims pray 5 times a day starting at about 4:00am each morning.  Every Mosque has a loud speaker that broadcasts the prayer.  After a few days in the country, these broadcasts became just another part of the constant noise that is Egypt.  It was fascinating to watch as men in suits began showing up in the little courtyard.  They rolled out several mats.  One man laid his mat out in front of the others and was obviously the leader in this prayer session.  I was intrigued not only in the ritual of the prayer but in the fact that all these men were wearing western style business suits and carried themselves as if they were of some importance.  As we sat in our courtyard feeling self- conscious because we may have been intruding on these men’s prayer time, a truck screeched in.  When I turned around, I saw a small white truck loaded down with young men toting what looked to be AK47’s to this girl’s untrained eye.  Needless to say, since the revolution in January and the dissolution of the police, I was more than just a little bit wary of what was going on.  Mustafa, who had been praying with the other men noticed the armed men and came to tell us what was afoot.  Come to find out, the Minister of Tourism of Egypt was hosting the annual Tourism summit in Aswan this same day.  Their evening entertainment was a special, never seen before, light and sound show at the Temple of Isis followed by a traditional Nubian dinner.  In attendance were the Ministers or Directors of Tourism for all the countries around the world.  The main agenda at this meeting was how to encourage the return of tourism in areas where there had been civil unrest.  In a show of openness to tourists, we were invited to share the sound and light show with the ministers.  Mustafa was thrilled with this turn of events.   He called his friends and colleagues to share his exciting news.  It was a beautiful presentation of the story of the Goddess Isis.  The stone carvings were brought to life through the story told over the load speakers while different patterns of lights drew your attention to the corresponding figures in the stone face.

Mom and Dad waiting for the show

A hundred or so people milled about the Temple complex with us.  There were photographers there snapping pictures and what we were told was a TV camera taking video of the event.  At one point the TV camera panned over the small group of tourists.  They stopped momentarily on Mom and Dad sitting at the base of one of the columns of the Temple.  The smell of a traditional Nubian feast filled the air.  When the show was over, we were not asked to dine with the dignitaries but were swooped away in our water taxis.  It was an honor and a privilege to be included in sharing this special evening.   It was even more exciting to think that some of the Allen family made the Egyptian news and we didn’t have to start a telethon to get anyone out of an Egyptian jail.

Temple of Philea



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