Saturday, 7 February 2009

Rest and Relaxation by Nicky

We've been in Aswan for two days now, waiting for our vehicles to arrive by barge from Sudan. Well, actually we are waiting for them to leave Wadi Halfa (where we caught our passenger ferry to Egypt) and then they take 24 hours to cross Lake Nasser followed by approximately 2 days of bureaucracy to release them from customs. What a shame then that we are stuck in a place with views across the Nile, full of feluccas which are little sailing sloops with huge triangular sails (photos to follow soon), fantastic ruined temples, a bustling but friendly and relaxed souk, museums, swimming pools, ATMs, excellent food (esp. shwarma and felafels), strong coffee and karkady (hibiscus tea) and great internet access! Big Max has been enjoying the freedom of being able to stroll off to check Facebook and to buy clothes and food and get chatting with the shopkeepers. After Zimbabwe of course, this place feels like an absolute shrine to commercialism. Talking of which, people look at us unbelievingly when we say we are from Zimbabwe - sure that with our white faces we can't really be from Africa.

As ever the little boys attract a lot of attention - not all of it completely desirable! They are enjoying a bit of downtime: the most successful item in the games box has been Alexander's huge crate of lego, which of course we complained about when we were packing back in Harare, but which provides the boys with hours of constructive entertainment. Number two top toy has probably been the set of carefully selected toy cars and tanks he brought (including a bright pink Lotus Esprit that my brother Mark might remember). We got the cricket bat out in the desert, and Max pumped up the soccer ball to play with the friendly youth we met on our first afternoon in Sudan. He and I have enjoyed a few games of Scrabble: I better sharpen up because he beat me for the first time (I think) a few days ago. Harry Potter has also been a great inspiration for the boys imaginative play (lots of scrambling on rocks, shouting 'Expelliarmus' and 'Expecto Patronum' and searching for suitable wands - which as you can imagine is something of a magical feat when you are in a desert with no trees). Ben and Alexander are ploughing their way through all seven volumes. And I have to admit I have also re-read the entire series since the beginning of the trip, with greater enjoyment, and less irritation at the grammatical glitches, than the first time. Maybe thats the effect of travelling and becoming more relaxed and mellow by the day....

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