January 24th, 2008

Sea dragon

Kom Ombo and Edfu

This morning we had a last breakfast on the boat - hard boiled eggs, salty cheese, pitas, jam, cheese triangles, sliced sweet cake and tea - paid for our drinks, tipped the captain, had one last visit to the sheet shielded hole in the ground (maybe that was just me, most of the girls were holding out for better offerings further afield), tossed our suitcases to land and headed off to the bus at 730 sharp. Our first stop was Kom Ombo, a Roman era temple to Horus and ... someone else. There is still paint on the walls from 2000 years ago. The bas reliefs were much less defaced than the ones at Philae, but it seemed that about half the temple had been sliced off in an angle starting from the back (the altar area), where the gods were only represented from the knees down, while the front of the temple, with 50 foot or so lotus-topped pillars, was still whole. Unfortunately Kom Ombo is set up so the many Nile cruise boats we'd spent the last two days mocking could dock right in front and unload their passengers, so the place was crawling with other tourists - a far cry from peaceful Philae.

After we'd been through most of the temple and peered at the mummified crocodiles and watched our fellow travellers posing with cobras, we sat down in a lovely palm shaded outdoor coffee shop and drank mint tea and thick coffee - it was lovely and I could have stayed all day.picture.jpg

But no such luck - a mere 10 minutes downtime and we were back on the bus for the hour plus ride to Edfu. Edfu was great - a four story slanting front wall decorated with reliefs of the king dedicating the slaughter of his enemies to Horus. Behind was a full temple complex including the very "Raiders of the Lost Ark" holy of holies, a fifteen foot tall, silver gilt, hieroglyph covered, free standing alcove cut from a single piece of rock that, back in the day, would have held a statue of Horus for the high priest and the king to take out to annoint with oils and make offerings to.

And, of course, piles of other people there, and there was only about two minutes allowed in front of the high altar per group before the next one pushed their way forward. We're back on the bus now heading to Luxor via police convoy. My nose is a little sunburned and we're watching "Hot Fuzz" and two hours seems like a long time to wait to eat. Fortunately I've got cheese triangles and pita, which I'm about to offer to the rest of the folks on the bus.