Day 4 – Felucca cruise on the Nile
Today we slept in while some members of our group did an optional morning tour of Abu Simbel, a temple a few hours’ drive from Aswan that was also relocated to keep it preserve. After enjoying the breakfast buffet and going for a swim in the hotel’s pool, we met our Nubian felucca crew and set sail. About half of our group upgraded to a 5-star Nile cruise while the other half of us took the pull-over-the-boat-when-you-need-to-go-to-the-bathroom route. And after having experienced it, we could not imagine having had it any other way.
We had only been sailing for about an hour when H noticed a sandstorm whirling behind us near Aswan. Think of any desert film where a sandstorm comes out of nowhere and that was our experience. It looked like it was blowing west and would not hit us, but it kept getting bigger and we could smell rain in the air. H said it rains there about once every six years, and today we brought luck to the region. Pulling up to a greasy patch of shore, our crew lashed the boat to a few nearby trees. Within seconds we were engulfed in a sea of sand and rain. Visibility was around 10 meters and the sun disappeared first behind clouds, then completely behind the horizon, leaving us to grab flashlights to see. Even with the sudden darkness, we tied bandanas around our faces and put on sunglasses to keep the sand out of our eyes, nose and mouth.
As the sand continued to whip against us and the felucca, the waves intensified and crashed against the shore. Local Nubians saw we were exposed to the elements and offered us shelter. They welcomed us into their village and homes. Even after the power went out, they found a way to make tea for our group. Considering how crazy the situation was, everyone seemed to be having a fun time. No one was hurt or scared, and this was making for a great story to bring home.
After a while, the lights came on thanks to a guy who H called the Nubian Eddie Murphy. This Eddie Murphy doppelganger brought us his generator when he heard we were stuck in the darkness. None of them were affiliated with On The Go or our tour (except “Eddie Murphy” was supposed to host us that night in another part of town), and they had so little but still offered us so much. We will never forget the kindness we encountered on our trip.
After an hour or so, the weather cleared up enough for us to return to the felucca, eat dinner and go to bed.