Thursday, July 3, 2008


You are halfway through your trip’s experience and are getting tired of rewinding your life’s story. You are ready to move into the present, but you are still determined to be patient and continue. You do decide, however, to “kick it up a nickel” without leaving out any important stuff. You also realize that if you stopped writing about what you will be writing, you might have been done writing it by now!

You and your felucca crew have now arrived at the temple of Kom Ombo. Everyone’s belongings are transferred from the covered truck to a new microbus. Most people have bigger bags, which are tied to the roof of the bus. You, on the other hand, have three smaller bags, and no one (including you) wants your bags to travel on top. You also don’t feel safe about leaving them sitting inside the bus, so you carry two of them along with you. All of you are excited to explore a new temple, except Ale who still feels weakened from her troubled stomach, but she still joins you.

Kom Ombo is a unique temple. It is mostly outside and is dedicated to two different gods. Because of this, it was built symmetrically and has twin entrances, twin courts, twin colonnades, twin hypostyle halls, and twin sanctuaries. In ancient times, the city of Kom Ombo was known for being a military base as well as a trading center between Egypt and Nubia. It also used to be a place where sacred crocodiles collected and came to be known as Pa-Sebek (Land of Sobek), after the crocodile god. The temple itself is dedicated to Sobek and Haroeris (meaning Horus the elder). It originally began as a project by Ptolemy VI, but most of it was completed by Cleopatra VII’s father, Ptolemy XII.

From the temple of Kom Ombo, it is about an hour ride to your next destination: the temple at Edfu. By this time both Ale and Ana were wiped out, Rob had seen the temple before and already had a torn calf muscle, so he opted out as well. The only able-bodied Edfu explorers were you and Tom.

Edfu is a temple dedicated to the god Horus. It is a striking sight from the outside, as a large pylon decorated with giant hieroglyphs, depicting heroic skull-smashing battle scenes, comes into view from the cemented walkway. On each side of the entrance are two life-size, precise granite sculptures of Horus himself. According to the “Lonely Planet” Edfu is the “most completely preserved Egyptian temple.” Somewhat coincidentally, this temple was also completed by Cleopatra’s father Ptolemy XII, after being initially constructed by Ptolemy III 237 years before year 1.

Inside the temple, you are bombarded by numerous tour groups. They inconsiderately stand in the middle of your way as their guide flaps his or her gums. You have no problem elbowing your way through in order to see what you came here for- absolutely everything. You walk in and explore every chamber you find, snapping pictures along the way. You feel a certain responsibility to capture the essence of the temple for those who were not able to join you.

Whilst wandering around, attempting to escape herds of tourists, you accidentally find yourself in what you later find out to be the Passage of Victory. It is a narrow passageway between the temple and its outer protective walls. Not unlike other temples, the passageway is completely covered in hieroglyphs, which you later read to be pictures of battles between Horus and Seth during the annual Festival of Victory.

In the end, Ale decides to join the exploration. Together you complain about the tourists, and exit the temple into the hot blistering sun. The exits of most ancient sites are designed so that everyone must pass by a colorful array of overpriced touristic souvenirs in order to escape. You torture the vendors with interested eyes but sharp stabbing, “NO!’s” and re-enter the microbus heading to Luxor.