🇪🇬 Aswan / Experiencing Nubian hospitality
Updated: Apr 24, 2021
We were done with the desert road experience and decided to take most of our drive from Luxor to Aswan along the Nile which is a beautiful experience. On your right-hand side, you see nothing but barren desert whereas on our left-hand side, along the river, the entire landscape is colored in different shades of green - palm trees, meadows and fields with grazing cows and donkeys.
As we drove further south, we came through small villages with colorful houses and - behold - friendly inhabitants. People were waving at us, kids were laughing and trying out their English skills. Having had our experiences, we were suspicious - did they want to sell us something? Were they going to ask for money? What kind of trap was that? It slowly dawned on us that we were doing those people wrong - they were just genuinely nice! The warmth and friendliness of the people in southern Egypt stands in contrast to most of the encounters we had in the rest of the country which is no coincidence as we were soon to learn: we had arrived in Nubia.
Nubia once was home to several ancient empires and is today a region that is split between southern Egypt and northern Sudan. Modern Nubians have a very strong sense of their common identity and see themselves more as part of their ethnicity than their nationality. They speak their own language, have their own music and cook their own food - but what was most remarkable to us is their outstanding kindness.
" ...apparently the word had spread throughout the village that two Germans with a huge car are in town."
We stayed at Maghrabi’s guesthouse, an oasis of quiet situated right on the Westbank of the Nile with huge trees under which we relaxed on pillows and sipped coffee. It was there that we suddenly got a message from Katharina’s kite instructor saying: “I think you guys are staying in my village!” We had not posted about our location yet, so apparently the word had spread throughout the village that two Germans with a huge car are in town (once again, the only tourists around). Beky, the instructor, had undergone knee surgery and was back home for recovery, so he invited us over. We ended up spending an evening with him and a couple other guys on a rooftop, enjoying a Nubian coffee ceremony.
Doesn’t all of the above sound like a relaxing vacation? Well, as you might remember: we don’t vacate, we adventure. So, there was s*** that needed to be taken care of. On the agenda: meeting our fixer for the Egyptian - Sudanese border crossing and getting a Covid test done. We took the private boat shuttle from our guesthouse to the McDonalds on the other side of the Nile - the suggested meeting point by our fixer, Kamal. He picked us up in his car that had seen better days back in… when were cars invented? Before getting the test done, we had to find a place to get passport copies (“Who travels without passport copies?!” “we do, Kamal, we do.”) which took about an hour. When we finally got to the hospital, it turned out to be an outdoor venue - they had simply set up an improvised test center in the backyard. But, hey - isn’t it recommended anyways to air out spaces regularly?
As always, we were very anxious about the results - we were staying away from people most of the time and never had any symptoms. But people were not staying away from us and if you didn’t know that there was a worldwide pandemic going on, Egypt was definitely not the place to learn about it. Anyways, it turned out we had nothing to worry about. Money was exchanged and we were good to go and meet Kamal’s partner in Abu Simbel who would accompany us across the border.
So with everything settled we took a romantic sunset boat ride on a traditional Felukha (sailing boat) before shit was about to get real again.