40 for 40: Day 11 – Gebel el-Silsila

“Would you like to wake up for breakfast at 8:30 and start the tour at 9?”

That was the question we were given last night, and it’s definitely reflective of the laid back atmosphere on the Loulia. Gebel el-Silsila isn’t going to be overrun by tourists any time soon, mostly due to the fact that the bigger boats aren’t allowed to dock anywhere near it, so the ability to flexible was appreciated and a bit of a given.

So the morning started casually enough, save for the cabin getting pretty warm at about 3 am. The generators for the boat go off a bit after 10 pm, so the idea was that we would “supercool” the room with the AC while the power was on and ride the cool air until morning, but it didn’t quite work out that way, but after a quick readjustment of covers, things were good. First world vacation problems.

Breakfast was amazing, a combination of eggs, crepes and other various breakfast staples, before Abdullah gave us a bit of an Egyptian history lesson as it related to the creator of the site we’d be watching today, Horemheb.

Short version, Horemheb was the general who became king after the death of Tutankhamen, who was able to rebuilt Egypt after Akhenaten nearly ruined it when he switched the country’s focus to the worship of only one god as opposed to the many. The Speos of Horemheb (chapel) reflects his importance, featuring a room where he is seated with all of the Egyptian gods looking onward, basically as a way of saying “Thank you for bringing us back”. It’s built right into the ancient quarries that provided Egypt with most of the sandstone it used for temple building. There are also some toys of various nobles, some shrines to Merenptah, Ramses II and Seti I that were visible last night from the river, but that weren’t available for exploration.

In the tomb of a noble who had two wives (and who, quite interestingly, created a statue at the entrance of himself split in half, with one wife on one side, and the other on the other), we got an interesting lesson on Egyptian marriage practices, as Abdullah shared some of his personal history, as we learned the hurdles that are put up for divorce in the country, how many wives you can have, what to do if you want a second wife and what can be done if the first wife doesn’t want you to have a second wife. It was all very matter of fact and an interesting insight into local culture, past and present.

We headed back on the boat on the way to another swim, passing some small villages and scenes of life on the Nile, from kids paddling boats to animals having their daily graze. We had a chance to actually sail a bit today, which was nice, before pulling up next to a sandbank across from Edfu. We got off for a bit and wandered around a vegetable plantation before heading back to the boat for the night.

So pretty simple one today, which on the Nile, isn’t a bad thing at all.

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