Journal: Sunday 10 November 1996
For a whole year all I could think about was getting back to Egypt. Meanwhile, I had begun to take a course in Egyptology in order to understand more of what I had seen. To be honest, I’d never really left the country, or at least, I felt as though I’d left my heart there on my previous visit. For that year I became totally immersed in the history of the monuments, the various sites I had visited and the ancient language as well as the culture of modern Egypt. There were not enough hours in the day to read the dozens of books I was finding by scouring the local second-hand bookshops, and to write assignments for my course. My poor long-suffering husband could hardly have a sensible conversation with me unless it was in some way Egypt-related. I am told there is no cure for Egyptomania.
I decided that the easiest way to re-visit the monuments of Upper Egypt was to take another cruise, so I booked the flight and cruise as a package and booked a week in Luxor afterwards, in the Isis Hotel, where two friends would join me for the last few days of my trip. Landing at Luxor airport was a joy, when I stepped off the plane the evening breeze took me in its full embrace but didn’t cool the temperature at all, a lovely 93 degrees F. The smells of the desert and the town engulfed me and I felt again that I had come home.
Even though my visit was a month earlier than last year, the lock at Esna was closed again for maintenance and so we were transferred from Luxor to Esna by coach to meet the cruise boat there. It was late and dinner was served immediately, with a little entertainment from some of the waiters who played drums and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ – with an Egyptian flavour – to one of the passengers who was celebrating. My single cabin was small but beautifully clean and within a few minutes of me being there my room boy, Hassan, came to introduce himself and see that I had everything I needed. I looked around. Thick white towels folded in the shape of swans sat in a pool of flower petals on the bed, the covers were invitingly turned down for the night. Yes, I thought I would be very happy here for a week in my temporary floating home.
I had not travelled alone abroad before without going to meet someone at my destination, so this was a new experience for me. I had new people to meet, new friends to make and a whole week to look forward to, re-visiting the monuments of my beloved Egypt. I was a little apprehensive but very excited as I drifted off to sleep and the boat drifted upriver towards Edfu.