Edfu: Egypt : Travel Thoughts 11

© irene waters 2020

We awoke to a glorious day.The Nile shimmered under the rising sun. We had left Luxor and travelled by night to the town of Efu located on the West Bank of the Nile. Here we were going to visit the Temple of Horus. Our guide had warned us that our mode of transport may upset us but that the temple was a must to see. He wasn’t wrong.

We departed this view on one side of us, walked through the five boats that were moored closer to the wharf than we were and arrived in a hot, dusty town where the shrill noise of men shouting and horse and carriage rattling on the pavements was deafening. Each person was given a spot in a carriage with one or two other people. Strict instructions were given that we had to take the number of the carriage because that would be the carriage that returned us to the dock.

© irene waters 2020

Roger and I clambered into our carriage and off we took at a gallop, the horse being whipped to speed. I was scared stiff and clung on, unable to take any photos of the town that would have looked quite interesting at a slower rate. Where the road would take two carriages I felt as though I was back in Queen Boedica times as the chariots went full pelt trying to overtake. On the other side of the road empty carriages returned. The race to pick up the tourists was on.

© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020

On our arrival we disembarked at a rudimentary shelter thankful to have arrived alive and dreading the trip back. We then had to negotiate what had become known after the Valley of the Kings as the Valley of the Vultures whilst the ever present watchful eye scanned us for any hint of terrorism. The only act any of us felt like performing was on those horse handlers.

© irene waters 2020

The Temple of Horus is the best preserved temple in Egypt being situated high enough above the Nile to be safe from flooding.

© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020

This temple was built 237 BC and is important because its intactness allows the reading of the heiroglyphs to tell full stories. It also tells details of its construction and the drama between Seth and Horus. It was completed by 57 BC. In 391 whilst under Roman rule pagans were persecuted and non Christian carvings were damaged as they removed faces and other bits and pieces of the reliefs.

© irene waters 2020

The blackened ceiling in the hypostyle hall is thought to have been the result of arson intended to destroy the non christian imagery.

© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020

Everywhere in the temple are doves (perhaps pigeons) roosting. I like to think of them as doves as they represent the divine, showing the hand and presence of God – an apt symbol to be in a temple I thought. Our guide however, saw them as bit shitters whose excrement was damaging the structure and the process of cleaning it off damaging it some more.

© irene waters

Over time the temple became buried beneath 12 metres of sand. Locals built houses on top of the temple. By 1798 the only thing visible of the temple was the upper portion of the entry pylon seen by a French expedition. In 1860 excavation of the temple began and continures today.

© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020

We left the temple of Horus, back out through the Valley of the Vultures to await our carriage. Whilst waiting we saw one coming in quickly and overturning throwing the tourist out. None of us wanted to return by this form of transport and we begged our guide to get us a taxi. Not possible he told us. The carriage trips are these men’s only form of income and without it they wouldn’t survive the depth of poverty that they would have to endure. To prevent this the town’s council had forbade taxis and toktoks were not permitted in the vicinity.

© irene waters 2020

For one of our group this was too much and we decided that we would write and tell the tour company that although the Temple of Horus was well worth a visit we would prefer to forgo that rather than travel with men who sped and didn’t take good care of their horses. I don’t know how many of us did end up writing. I admit by the time I arrived home I had so many other things I was thinking of I didn’t but on writing this now I wonder what is the right thing to do. Perhaps the tourist company should say that it will only send their clients with horses that are not whipped and are fed well.

Back on the boat we prepared for another night on the Nile.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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5 Responses to Edfu: Egypt : Travel Thoughts 11

  1. Charli Mills says:

    That bothers me about the horses, but tourism is also part of the problem, so I’m not sure what the right course of action is. But I love seeing through your eyes. What incredible structures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Charli. It is such a difficult thing. People live in such poverty is it right to take away their ability to earn and I learnt in Vanuatu that values change when poverty is involved. Without vets to spay dogs the packs were large and savage and malnourished therefore hungry. Not pleasant to come upon. Then you saw the protein deficient kids and suddenly you condoned the eating of dogs. Not something as a dog lover I’d contemplate doing here but I have the luxury that they don’t have.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Sounds of Egypt: Travel Thoughts 12 | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

  3. noelleg44 says:

    We did not see Edfu and never took a carriage trip when we were on our tour. Thanks for adding to my memories!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome. We took another carriage trip in Luxor but the animals were rescues, well fed, not whipped or mal treated and the tourist dollar went to animal rescue and feed as well as providing local employment. A win win situation that if eEdfu adopted would see them with happier tourists

      Liked by 1 person

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