We have travelled further south into Nubia, to Abu Simbel, a site which is 45km from the Sudanese border. (Yes I thought of nipping over the border to see the ‘other’ pyramids but the paperwork would have been horrendous so it was basically a no)
Very cool though to do a bus trip through the Sahara desert (in the comfort of an airconditioned bus). Our guide told us that if we travelled due west of the road nothing would stop us until we reached the Atlantic Ocean on the other coast of Africa.
It was a dreamy experience travelling through such an iconic desert as the Sahara, even just for a few hours. I now really understand why some cultures believe you need to travel to the desert to find your soul. There is something about it.
here is an attempt to photograph a mirage,one that appears to have rippling water.
There is no water there …
but there is at Abu Simbel
It is a site built 3,300 years ago by Rameses II, sometimes called Rameses the Great or Rameses the builder. He was a legendary king of old, who fought many wars and subdued many foreign armies but who claimed to ‘rule by the feather’. The feather was a symbol of ‘justice,’ briefly speaking, because it was believed in Ancient Egypt that after death your heart was weighed on a scale against a feather and that determined what happened to you next in the afterlife. The pharaoh was a symbol of the concept of Ma’at, or balance, and had to maintain order in the land. Ma’at is the goddess who did the weighing ceremony after death with the feather.
i read somewhere that the poem ‘Ozymandius King of Kings’ was written about Rameses. There is also some speculation that he was the pharoah in the Moses story though other scholars say there isno evidence to suggest the Moses story is an actual historic event or that he was the pharoah in it.
I like the story that Rameses never went into battle without his pet lion with him. You can see the lion featured in some of the artworks in his temple depicting his battles.
Rameses married a Nubian princess.
her name was Nefertari – which means ‘the most beautiful in all the land’.
He is said to have loved her deeply and built ‘his and hers’ temples for them both at Abu Simbel.
luckily these temples were discovered in enough time to rescue them from the dam.
They are huge, and so was the effort required to relocate them.
We went twice, once at night for a sound and light show underneath the stars and the sickle moon, and again in the early morning.
Nefertari is credited with the first ever written peace treaty, between Egypt and their enemies the Hittites, the terms of which she suggested to her husband.
Nefertari is not to be confused with Nefertiti who came earlier and was not Nubian.
we were not allowed to take photos inside, so I cannot show you here, but Nefertari is depicted as a tall slim graceful and utterly beautiful Nubian lady. She holds a blue lotus which is a symbol of upper Egypt. It is also the only known time a pharoah depicted his queen as being the same height as him and therefore of equal importance to him.
Many of her beautiful valleys around the upper Nile are now drowned under the dam
Here are some artworks of other beautiful Nubian ladies and adorable Nubian bins
I didn’t realise there was something missing from my life until I came to Nubia and found it, an ancient part of my soul that I had forgotten I once had. There is a timelessness here, a place to come to remember, and even though there are other ways to get to Abu Simbel I think that drive through the desert is part of it.
On another note, I haven’t accumulated any more imaginary boyfriends or husbands yet, but I have a doppelgänger. We have just checked into our boat cruise to Luxor and I am solemnly informed by a staff member that I was on this boat two years ago leading a tour. He remembers me. He is giving me that dubious ‘oh yeah good one ‘ look every time I tell him it wasn’t me.
Just for fun this is me demonstrating what one looks like when their alarm doesn’t go off and they get a wakeup call and everyone is already on the bus waiting for them and they get ready in 35 seconds.
Funnily enough I was in deep sleep having a conversation with Russell Brand about something which escapes me now, but in this photo it looks like I have taken his hair style back into the waking world with me …
Tomorrow our boat sails for Luxor.
Postscript – below is a photo that my friend took a short time later, my hair looks better ….