Today I add a new focus and challenge to my blogging: the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I’ll be writing every day about a place I’ve traveled to, a foreign food I’ve tasted, or a cultural tradition I’ve learned. Each day, I will start with a new letter. Today it’s A.
Being an English teacher abroad opened up lots of doors for me to travel around the countries where I taught. In 1984, two years after I graduated from college, I found my first teaching job abroad. I continued teaching on and off overseas in different capacities until 2006. The last teaching post lasted for nine years. The A to Z Challenge gives me the opportunity to share these vagabond years with you.
A is for Abu Simbel Temple, Egypt
Abu Simbel Temple is the oldest temple in Egypt, and is located near Aswan in Upper Egypt. Many foreigners flock to the Pyramids just outside of Cairo but I recall the atmosphere being so different at Abu Simbel (Abu is the Arabic word for Father, so literally it means this is the site for Simbel’s father). However, it’s actually a former village in Southern Egypt, the site of two temples of Ramses II, moved to higher ground in the mid-sixties before the area behind the Aswan Dam was flooded.
I didn’t originally plan to visit Abu Simbel alone as not many women traveled alone in Upper Egypt at that time (early ’90s) but my traveling companion abruptly left Aswan to return to Cairo the night before. We’d already arranged and paid for my “tour,” and it seemed silly to waste the money.
So, just as dawn broke, I met my tour guide, a young Nubian man, and we took this canoe across Lake Nasser, which was only accessible by boat. (I think now there are other ways) Halfway across the lake, my guide handed me the oars and said, “You row. I tired.” Shocked, I resisted, then finally took the oars and having never rowed before, received my first lesson on placid Lake Nasser.
The magnificent statues on Abu Simbel and my somewhat non-traditional tour with people at the temple were worth the muscle aches I suffered later as I made my way back over the lake, again halfway, being forced to take my turn at rowing.
My guide shown in the above photo, is wearing traditional Upper Egyptian garb. Oftentimes, a white cloth is wound around the head of the men in that part of the country.
I’m pretty sure most tourists aren’t asked to row themselves through the water. Rather, that task was allocated to me a direct result of me being a lone female traveler.
I rather enjoyed the challenge as the sun was shining and the water was calm.
How interested are you in seeing the ancient temples of Egypt? How do you feel about traveling alone?
You have just read “A is for Abu Simbel” by Amy L. Bovaird. © Copyright April 1, 2015. If you like this article, sign up for my blog to receive more articles like this in your inbox each week. My travel articles will continue throughout April.