Edfu was the second day of our Egypt tour in January 2003. We got to sleep until 6:10 this day, then after breakfast our coach drove us through the town of Edfu, amidst the horse carriages and lorries carrying many workers. The traffic choked to a standstill (partly because a tourist stopped in his horse carriage to take a picture of the carriage in the middle of the street). Our driver solved the problem by driving to the other side of the divided road and going down the wrong side of the road - at least there was no one coming!
pharoah relief edfu
edfu back entry
We visited the temple at Edfu which was built some 1,000 years after the temples we visited in Luxor. The picture above right is the back wall, our first view of the temple. The architectural differences were quite visible and the Greco-Roman influences noticeable. The purpose of this temple was also different as this temple was a temple of worship rather than a temple for burial. Amazing though, the amount of damage done by the early Christian iconoclasts, defacing all the parts that made the images look human - the face especially, but also arms and legs. Only higher up on the walls do you find intact reliefs without damage. Above left is a relief left intact, surrounded by hieroglyphics.  We look at these walls and see beautiful artwork, where the iconoclasts viewed it as an insult to their beliefs. When will man learn to accept others’ beliefs and respect them for what they are in the artist’s view, rather than as an affront to their own belief system?
edfu pano
From the front of the temple, the structure is imposing and requires a wide angle lens (or the ability to “stitch” digital images together (below).  The size of the structure as well as the larger-than-life carvings help to provide a sense of awe for those who came to worship.Coming back through town, it was more hectic than earlier, now that all the shops were open and the tourists were out in force. There is definitely something to be said for starting early in the day!

The horse carriages full of tourists were racing through town, creating their own traffic jams, not to mention the horse drawn carts carrying goods, the small trucks and vans with at least 3 men hanging on the back of each. Then there were also the pedestrians who simply walk wherever they want, down the middle of the street, crossing the street anywhere they want. Somewhat chaotic but typical. Our driver was constantly using his horn to warn pedestrians and other drivers of his intentions. Obviously a traffic system very different from the one we are used to! Below left is a photo of the caleshes or horse-drawn buggies as they wait by the quayside to ferry tourists to the Edfu site.
quayside edfu
crops village south of edfu
Back on our boat, we cruised up the Nile (which means we were going south), enjoying the winter sun as it blazed down upon us. A few brave souls ventured into the pool which was quite cool - and refreshing. Our fellow passengers on the boat, Germans, French, Brits and Spaniards were are all up on the sun deck enjoying the winter warmth. A few Arabs ventured up, but they all remained in the ample shade provided by tarps which covered a good portion of the deck. A little something for everyone.

As we followed the Nile, we passed village after village where all the kids (and some adults) ran to the shore to shout “hello” and wave their arms wildly. Next to the Nile green fields abound along a narrow strip of land where it is feasible to pump water from the Nile (above right). This area is full of date palms, some banana groves, and many fields bright green with crops.
fishing on nile
fishing on nile south of edfu
The houses are mostly mud and brick, many with palm fronds for roofs. Occasionally a small town appears that has a concrete/brick building. Usually only one in the town is painted. 

All along the Nile we saw many fishermen and locals in their boats either ferrying people across the river or harvested crops. Most of the fishing appeared to be done by spreading a net from the boat, then beating the water with a stick (presumedly to chase the fish into the net), then pulling in the net, hopefully with a good harvest.  Above right is one of the fishermen beating the water.

The Nile cruise was definitely a worthwhile endeavor. It allowed us to visit several remote sites that would have been difficult to get to overland. It also provided the opportunity to see life along the Nile, the lifeblood of this desert country.


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