Day 3 – Aswan
Today we explored Aswan, which is in southern “upper” Egypt (called “upper” because the Nile runs south to north). We visited the Aswan High Dam, which is one of the largest in the world, and had a great view of the Nile and Lake Nasser (one of the largest manmade lakes) from the top. After the dam, we headed to Philae Temple. The temple, which is devoted to Isis the goddess of love, is on an island. (A brief aside, another reason we opted for On The Go was the feedback of other travelers in Egypt that preceded our visit. In the case of Two Traveling Soles, they arrived at this site, paid the price of the ticket, only to find the ferry to the island was not included. The boat captains decided to wildly overcharge them. We had no such bad experience, as everything was taken care of when we arrived, including gratuity along the way.) But the temple is not in its original location because that piece of land is now covered by the Nile. In an incredible act of unity, archeologists and skilled laborers from around the world came together to dismantle and reassemble the temple on a new island to prevent it from being destroyed by the Nile because of the Aswan Dam. They did quite an impressive job.
We hopped on a boat that took us to the current Philae Island. We had visited tombs (the pyramids) already, and this was to be our first temple. The craftsmanship, the artistry, the size and the ideas behind each aspect of the temple are incredible. What’s also impressive is what you can no longer see – that the whole temple was painted and covered with wax, which over the years wore away from sand, water and wind. It amazed us that we were actually able to walk around and touch this beautiful work of art. You could close your eyes, imagine the colors, the workers and their devotion to their gods and goddesses. As we walked through the temple, H explained various scenes and told us how to identify offerings, pharaohs, gods and goddesses, and interpret what each scene signifies. If all history classes in grade school were this hands-on, more people would probably study the subject. That’s one reason why traveling is so important – it just changes everything about your world, increases your knowledge and shapes your interests.