The Nile River has six major cataracts which are shallow parts of the river with rocks and rapids.  Aswan is located at the first cataract. Aswan has always been a popular stopping place for traders. Today, the market is filled with spices, textiles, and pottery.

Spices piled up in the market. The colors are so vivid.

Besides spices, the market also offered dates.

A variety of dates from different areas of Egypt.

Along the streets of the market, you will see these water containers. Water is free and cold since it is usually kept in clay pots.

Free water to anyone thirsty and walking in the market.

Aswan Dam and Aswan High Dam:

Before the High Dam, there was what Egyptians call the British Dam (Aswan Dam-not to be confused with the Aswan HIGH Dam), built between 1898-1902. However, the dam was unable to control the Nile’s water flow even though it was raised twice.

The welcome sign at the entrance onto the High Dam.

Gamal Abdel Nasser realized that in order to feed a growing population, Egypt had to produce more food/crops. To do this, more arable land was needed. The yearly flooding of the Nile had to be controlled. Because of political complications the World Bank refused to fund the project. Finally, the Soviet Union funded the building of the dam (1960-1971). The Aswan High Dam created Lake Nasser, the world’s largest artificial lake:

Lake Nasser, 300 miles long.

In the area of the dam, security, both military and police, is very high. Egypt cannot afford for anything to happen to the dam.

Security at the dam is high. Armored vehicles and lots of men carrying guns.

Felucca Sailing:

Feluccas are ubiquitous along the Nile. They tack up and down the Nile providing transportation from the shore to various islands in the Nile.

Nubian Village:

When the Aswan High Dam was constructed, many Nubians had to be re-located. Our group had the opportunity to visit the home of a Nubian family. The entire family live together…mother, son, children, grandchildren. When we arrived, we were taken into a large open area only partially covered by a roof and served tea and what is called “sunshine bread” because it is set in the sun before it is baked. Very good!

Sunshine bread. Set in the sun before baking. Molasses is the dark brown substance in the bowl to the right of the bread. Sugarcane is a major crop along the Nile. Egyptians consume about 67 pounds of sugar a year. Diabetes is a major disease in Egypt.

One of the daughters drew designs on our hands using henna. I got a scarab. It has lasted over a week.

The daughter was drawing henna designs on our hands. The cost was $3.00 (about 50 Egyptian Pounds)

Then, it was time to visit a Nubian Primary School. The children are taught both English and Arabic.

School children at a Nubian Primary School.

This was our teacher who tried to teach us Arabic numbers and to write our name in Arabic:

Teacher at the Nubian school.

 Temple of Philae:

When the Aswan (British) Dam was built, the Temple of Philae was partly submerged in water for six months of the year. During the construction of the Aswan High Dam, the temple buildings were disassembled, categorized, and reassembled on the Island of Agilika. The project, sponsored by UNESCO, lasted until 1980.

The Temple of Philae before it was moved, block-by-block, to the Island of Agilika. The temple was flooded for six months every year. Visitors would take rowboats to the temple and peer down into the green water that surrounded the temple.

Philae was the center for believers in the goddess Isis, one of the most popular Egyptian goddesses. The architecture is a combination of ancient Egyptian and Graeco-Roman style.

Night photo: Next to the Temple of Philae is the Kiosk of Trajan. This is the most famous of the Philae monuments.

Same temple, but in the day time. Often painted by artists.

Papyrus Institute:

The Papyrus Institute was similar to a US technical school. The students are taught to make papyrus and copy different scenes from various temples onto the papyrus paper. We were given a demonstration of how the paper has been made for centuries.

Demonstration of how papyrus is made into paper. Papyrus, a three sided plant, grows in the Nile. The lady is slicing the plant into strips. Then, the stripes are soaked in water, rolled with a rolling pen, and placed horizontally and vertically to provide strength. Finally it is pressed and dried.

Following the demonstration, we were able to purchase a papyrus drawing of our choice…which, of course, I did. You can see part of the one I bought behind the lady doing the demonstration. It tells a story about how a person enters the after-life. The heart is placed on one side of a scale. On the other side is a feather. The god Anubis weighed your heart.  If the heart is heavier than the feather, the person would be gobbled up by the god Ammut (she had a crocodile head). If the heart is light (unburdened and you did good deeds in your life), then the person is allowed to enter the after-life.

If your time is limited in Egypt, Aswan should be your destination. The atmosphere is relaxing and there are numerous activities to enjoy.

About the Author:

Bruce and Annie on a Felucca.

In 2010, Annie Coburn created Fab Placez.  In 2014, she changed the name of her website to FAB Senior Travel to better define her target audience, mature travelers. In order to provide diversity of locations and topics for her subscribers, she publishes travel articles from other writers, as well as her own.

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