On day three of our Lake Nasser cruise, we stepped off our riverboat onto a small motor boat that took us to shore. One of the crew of this little boat jumped onto shore and held the boat steady with a rope tied to the bow. Two other men grabbed up a 2-foot wide plank that was lying in the center of the little boat. The plank was then balanced on the bobbing bow of the boat while the other end was dropped onto the sandy beach. It was time to disembark. Small flutters of panic tickled my stomach. Surely someone was going to see my two elderly in-laws and come to the realization that a handrail would be a good idea. As I waited my turn it became apparent that no handrail was going to be forthcoming. I watched as people from our boat stepped up onto the bench seat and then stepped up onto the bow of the boat. They made their way down the plank and stepped onto the sand. Looking at the other small boat from our tour group I saw that they had a handrail. Okay, so what if the handrail consisted of two little guys standing in the water up to their thighs holding a pole above their heads, at least it was something to hold onto. First Mom and Dad get the welcome fruit basket in our swanky hotel in Cairo, and then the other passengers on our cruise get the dingy with the handrail. I was starting to get a complex.
Luckily we made it off the boat with nary a wet sock between us. We were visiting the Temple of Amanda. David and Mom walked on ahead while Paul and I took up the rear. I was just enjoying holding Dad’s hand and taking in the scenery. At one point I looked over my shoulder, relieved that another person from our group was walking as slowly as we were. To my surprise there was a young Nubian man in what looked like white pajamas sauntering along casually swinging a rifle. No offense to the little guy but he didn’t inspire me with confidence. For the remainder of our trip, David and I would see very young men treating firearms with a casualness that was unnerving. At one roadside checkpoint, we saw a young man actually using his AK47 to hold up his head. The scary part wasn’t that he was resting at his post; it was that he was resting his head on the muzzle of the gun!
This was our first temple and we were awestruck at its stone carvings. The Temple of Amanda is a Nubian temple in the honor of the gods Ra and Amun. I honestly didn’t hear much that our tour guide had to say about this temple because I was simply dumbfounded by the fact that I was looking at something that had been created by man’s hands thousands of years ago. Walking toward the front entrance of the temple we ran into one of the local men. I gasped as I saw that this man had a 3” sand colored scorpion on his shirt. My eyes flew to the man’s face where I saw with amazement that he had one of the creatures resting firmly on his forehead! For a small tip, you too could hold one of these stinging, poisonous creatures. Dave gave him a tip to take his picture. Waiting for Dave I noticed that that this man had a whole herd of scorpions sitting on the wall behind him. I did the only brave thing; I cut a trail for the door dragging poor Dad as fast as his 80 year old legs would carry him.
Leaving the Temple of Amanda we had to make quite a long trek down a dirt path to the Temple of Derr. As usual, we were the stragglers of the group. Luckily right in front of us was a donkey cart that, for a small tip, you could ride to the next temple. David and I put Mom and Dad on the donkey cart and sent them on their way. We walked hand in hand behind basking in the joy of being in such an amazing place together.
When we left the last temple we were greeted by some of the crew from our boat with cold hibiscus juice drinks and cold towels to refresh us. This was very welcome since it was over 100 degrees that day. Our riverboat was sitting a few yards away tucked up to the shore. Once again, a small gangway was how we were supposed to get back on the boat. It seems sad but I was thrilled to see a droopy piece of rope acting as a handrail. It was slowly become very apparent—Egypt does not have OSHA.