We haven’t had to get up too early lately and I’m thankful for the extra sleep. Breakfast at this hotel was scarce but suitable. I think I had become spoiled from the abundant buffets. We left our bags out for the bus and started on our five minute walk to the temples of Abu Simbel. We were going to see what it was like in the day time and hear a little more about the history from Hoda. Nothing compares to when I first saw them the night before, but seeing them in the day time was pretty incredible. We came and stood before them and listened to Hoda’s short history lesson. Much of the history had already been presented to us the night before at the sound and light show so she didn’t talk long. Something important to mention was the lack of other people. We were literally the only group there. I know people misuse the word literally a lot, but there was literally no one else there. The entire place was completely empty. Hoda told us that in 2010 there were 7,500 tourists here in one day. 7,500, and here we were all by ourselves. Everyone had the same reaction; we were all very thankful that there was no one else but also very sad for the Egyptian economy. I got the perfect picture of the temple without a single person in it, something that is nearly impossible to get at sites like these.
We left Abu simbel and headed to the airport soon after. We had to wait around a while in the airport before we were able to board the airplane. The flight was very quick to Aswan; we went up and promptly came down. But we were not getting off at Aswan, the plane was to go up again and fly to Cairo. At Abu Simbel there had been a problem with the boarding passes and we were unable to get passes that went all the way to Cairo. When we landed in Aswan we were required to get new boarding passes. Hoda rushed to the front of the plane and a man came on to issue the new passes. Pretty ridiculous since we didn’t even need to get off the plane. Our new tickets had new seat assignments on them as well. So of course we all had to stand up and switch seats for no good reason. So there we were on the plane shuffling around and switching seats, with only our group I might mention. Very Egypt-like. When we landed we hopped onto another tour bus and headed to our airport hotel.
We only had a short time to relax before we needed to hop back on the bus and go to our Nile River dinner cruise. It took us an hour to get there because of the insane traffic. That was something I hadn’t missed about Cairo. The boat was very elegantly decorated with gold decals and colorful paint. The servers wore fun but slightly tacky Egyptian outfits. We made our dinner choices and the live music performance started with a song by the Beetles. The food was good but not to die for as seems to be the theme for Egypt. The music was very enjoyable at first but was very loud and began to get tiresome towards the end. There was a belly dancer who performed as well as a whirling dervish. There were some little girls who got up and danced with both of them and made me think it was probably something I would have done when I was little. By the time we left I thought I might be hard of hearing. I don’t know if the music got louder at the end or if it just built up over time but we all had our fingers in our ears and found ourselves answering questions with “WHAT?”
It was nearly 11:30 when we got back to the hotel and I could see my grim future of getting up at 5:00 to catch our next flight. I lay in bed and thought back on my time in Egypt. I had wanted to come for so long that it was almost bittersweet that it was ending so soon. I couldn’t have been happier with my time here. The sights have been amazing. I found that the highlight for me was not what I thought it would be. My highlight of the trip was coming around that mountain in Abu Simbel and seeing those giant statues in the shadows. Everything was extraordinary and I am grateful that I was able to see it. The people were kind and welcoming, something I had not been sure about before coming. Egypt is not scary. I have been here 10 days and not once have I felt threatened or unsafe in any way. This just goes to show how much the media can blow things out of proportion. This beautiful country deserves to be seen by the world, and it needs it too. Its economy is failing because there is no money coming in. If there is no money coming in they can neither try and solve their problems, nor preserve these amazing sights. They need us to not be afraid. I am not afraid anymore. This is a country of people not terrorists.