Having made our way to the northern most part of Sudan, we had but only one option to cross into Egypt- the once weekly ferry from Wadi Halfa (Sudan) to Aswan (Egypt). Prepared for the worst scenario possible after hearing horror stories from other travelers coming south, the four of us drew together a game plan for securing space, shade and water on the boat’s deck. Some people told us to grab the space under the life boats (but then there’s no railing so you can roll off the ship at night!), others told us to make friends with the captain and sleep in the bridge, while others told us to book the rather overpriced first class cabin. Never having traveled first class on this trip, we couldn’t bring ourselves to spend our daily budget on a berth, so we booked ourselves into second class, which pretty much meant steerage.
Waiting for the ship to depart, two of us attracted quite a bit of attention…and it wasn’t Danny and I. It seemed that everywhere we went and everything we did, Ally and I attracted the attention of the Egyptian men on board. They stared, made comments, made eyes and even checked us up and down. Finally having enough of being their eye candy, we revolted. On man eyed me up and down finishing his “inspection” with a huge smile. I in turn blatantly eyed him up and finished my “inspection” with a frown. He got the picture.
The crowds never materialized, so we had plenty of space to stretch out under the night sky. A few hours after dark our “Nile cruise” passed the ancient site of Abu Simbel. Lit up at night, the site was spectacular and floating past it as hunkered down for bed on the deck was a highlight of this entire trip. Early (before dawn) the next morning, the Muslim men on the boat got up to pray, and although they stepped on us a bit in the dark, their prayers added to the mystic of the evening of the night.
Any romantic notions we had of arriving in Egypt on our ferry of dreams was shattered when we disembarked in Aswan. Somewhere under the cover of darkness we left the gentle, hospitable culture of Sudan and found ourselves in the middle of chaotic, brash Egypt. Utter chaos broke out and the ferry passengers turned into a vicious mob, pushing, shoving and squeezing themselves ahead of each other just to get off the boat and through the customs hall. The only word that could possibly describe what we witnessed and fell prey to: stampede. It was by far the most uncivilized situation I had ever seen with the police shutting gates attempting to regain control. Pulled through by customs officials (the curse of being an easily identifiable western tourist is sometimes positive), we made it through unscathed at the other end happy to be in Egypt at last.