Gliding down the Nile from Luxor to Aswan gave me a unique opportunity to see life almost standing still in some of the smaller settlements along this great river. Seemingly unperturbed by small convoys of cruise boats, farmers and fishermen go about their day whether it be guiding water buffalo, collecting sugar cane or handling yellow fishing nets.
Farming is mainly sugar cane and alfalfa. Despite it being their main crop in the Luxor area Egypt still needs to import sugar and certainly on the boat trip which I was on I got to taste a range of sweet treats as well as dates which we could see were edging the Nile on the tall palm trees. We could also see what appeared to be miniature palms and we were told by our guide Abdul that they were banana trees. At nighttime we often caught a glimpse of smoke or fire from the fields and this is where once the cane is harvested the remains are burned so the ash can fertilise the earth ready for the next crop.
Cattle were singular mainly, no great herds like we see in English fields, we also saw goats on some of the steeper banks but whoever we saw we always got a wave in this friendly country.
Most of all I loved to see the children shouting to the boats to catch our attention, they would wave and laugh as we waved back. Coincidentally we passed by a village as a boys school had finished for the day and lines of boys were making their way along the river bank, some cheeky ones already dispensing of tops and playing in the water.
What made most of us laugh were the daring boat vendors who would cast their rope on to our cruiser and draw up alongside and shout and haggle throwing their wares upon to the sundeck. Taking their lives into their hands at the same time these daring retailers would barter and shout whilst tourists sample their wares. If a sale was made then tourists would throw down the money in plastic bags or throw back the goods if not wanted, either way their persistence kept us entertained. In the same way felucca crew would skim past our balconies in Aswan offering boat rides.
Arriving in Aswan meant that suddenly the thin belt of vegetation changed to buildings. Swanky flats offering river views are evident alongside hotels such as Movenpick and the Sofitel Old Cataract where Agatha Christie penned Death on the Nile. For me life on the Nile is the new story and one everyone should read.