Thursday, January 20, 2011

Egypt #7: Floating on the Nile River

Our cruise ship on the Nile was little more than a glorified house boat. It had probably 50 rooms on three floors along with a dining hall to feed us and a “night club” type room to entertain us. But by far my favorite place was on the roof of the ship. The whole upper deck was open to the outside and allowed a 360 degree view of Egypt. There were awnings to sneak under when the sun was too hot and a small pool to hop into to cool off.

In the morning, before most were up, I would climb to the top deck and secure a deck chair at the stern of the ship and just stare at the drifting away countryside of Egypt. The Nile river valley is one of the most fertile places on earth and the lush green shores were beautiful in the early morning. In some areas it looked much like a modern farm with tractors working in the fields and trucks hauling the produce to market. But in other areas I saw the Egyptians getting water from the Nile by an ancient cantilevered system with the long tree branch pivoted on a stump with a weight on the other end to counterweight the bucket of water which was moved from the Nile to a waiting trough.

I liked the stern of the ship because I could see the small waves of the ship’s wake “V”-ing out to the shores making a million sparkly diamonds on the surface. The Nile is the longest and one of the largest of rivers in the world and the diamonds stretch all the way across its half mile width as we pass.

Before the sun has a chance to burn off the mist you get an eerie, other-worldly feeling as you pass. Almost like you step back in time to be a part of the Pharaoh’s barge heading from Cairo to Luxor for his twice yearly sacrifices. While papyrus is now rare in Egypt it used to cover the shores of each side and now you can see other reeds and bushes coming down to the shore where a princess might have come to find a reed basket that contained a future leader.

Many temples or ancient building can be seen from the Nile and you cannot imagine how beautiful it must have been in its heyday. Majestically carved, painted and decorated for the arriving dignitaries or celebrations. 18th dynasty gold was so common that most kitchen chairs had gold in them so you could imagine what the kings throne was like and how the barq that carried the sculpted god was gilded.

I sit now in my 30 year old home wondering if it will make it another 30 and think of Egypt with its 5000 year old buildings. We’ve lost something in our make-it-quick- and sell it mentality. We wonder why time seems to go so fast when we build our lives in the fast lane. We wonder why nothing seems to last when we can’t wait for a few years for something of value to be built. The Ancient Egyptians can still teach us, someday you should ride on the Nile with me and listen to them.

No comments: