Sex, death and meglomania

You lucky things, you get a triple hit of deathbyblog, as I’m about to head off into the great Lake Nasser, a phone and internet-free zone which spans 500km, 300km in Egypt, the rest in Sudan. The fabulous MV Antares had satellite internet the entire time we slowly schlepped the 215km south from Luxor to Aswan, but the Kasr Ibrim (www.kasribrim.com.eg )(named for a fortress on the edge of the lake, a site for fortifications since 1000BC) is old world, in the nicest possible way.

There are only seven or so boats cruising the lake, compared with 300+ on the strip between Luxor and Aswan, and Kasr Ibrim leads the pack with its sister, the pioneering Eugenie.

I thought I’d be squished into a single cabin with a porthole the size of a pigeon’s eye, but I’ve landed a suite. A suite. Up the back of the boat with my own wraparound sun deck complete with sun loungers, some awesome leather armchairs and the walls of the entire suite decked out in walnut veneer, which was weird at first, but I feel better now I’ve realised it matches my leatherbound laptop. It has a few old touches that make me giggle, like the built-in radio near the bed head (no plugging the ipod in here!) and the paper hygiene sash wrapped around the toilet, like the Miss Congeniality sash on a runner-up beauty queen.

While the Antares was 98% Spanish tourists (we were the 2%), the Qasr Ibrim is usually 60:40 French to Brits, though this time the French have won and there are but nine native English speakers on board, which suits us all to the ground. We’re a small, energetic group, the Brits all from down south – Surry, Kent and Essex, in their 50s and 60s and raring to go.

We took a little boat out to the Temple of Kalabsha, which is on a sometimes island in the lake. Our guide, Mustafa (or Safi to his mates), is hip and lanky, and pointed out many interesting carvings on the temples’ walls – not just Horus, Isis etc etc, but pics of the megalomaniacal Ramses II giving a few Nubian soldiers a good hiding, being breast fed by goddesses (as a full-grown man…hmmm…a few Oedipal complexes being played out here), and a procession of people bringing him offerings, including leopard skins, shields fox furs, monkeys, cheetahs and giraffes.

Interesting Egyptology facts to date:

All these carvings were once painted. Men were brown (because they worked in the fields) while women were yellow or white.

Men had their hearts weighed before being sent to heaven or hell. Women didn’t need to pass judgement, going directly past Go, straight into heaven.

Egyptians didn’t do human sacrifice.

Baboons, pigs and donkeys were considered an animal form of Seth, the bad, devil-like god.

When Egyptian kings married their sisters to become sister-wives, it didn’t mean they had sex with them. It was just to keep the throne in the family. Aaaaaah!

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