Day 14: Merowe

19t November 2016

Nautical miles 0

Refuelling 0

This has been a day for r&r, cultural tourism and washing. Paddy enthusiastically took our washing to the reception only for us to discover that the washing of socks and women knickers is strictly forbidden, apparently boxer shorts are fine. So I had to go into the kitchens and fish all my underwear out of the washing bag.

Luckily it is so hot that washing isn’t much of a chore. It all dries to a crisp in the heat. We are in the area that formed the capital of the kingdom of Kush from whence several generation of black pharaohs came. It has a large number of fabulous extremely spiky pyramids made out of huge chunks of quarried sandstone. The. Nubian Guest house where we are staying is just under the Jezel Bacal mountain. This is a large square extrusion of sandstone and granite that looks not dissimilar to a miniature Ayers rock.

Cemetary at Jebel Barkal

We. had a long lecture from our redoubtable guide, but due to the 35 degree heat, there was a certain degree of attention deficit. So I’ll have to look up the details when I get near some wifi. There was a pharaoh who travelled down the Nile enticed. by the wealth of the Kush kingdom. There was a lot of gold in the desert. When he saw Jezel Baykal, he was transfixed by the huge stone pinnacle which still stands at the end of the escarpment. Which he thought represented a cobra( requires some imagination) and thus he considered he’d found the home of the sun god Amon Ra. The result being that it became a sacred place and some of the queens came here to the base of the mountain, to give birth. In fact one of the excavated temples is essentially a birthing chamber so that a new pharaoh could be born in the home of the sun god. We visited the. temple, approximately the temperature of the surface of Venus, and it is extremely beautiful, the inside is decorated with wonderful images of Osaris and Horus.

After this we were herded back on to the coach decorated with pelmets, curtains and dangling decorations, all it lacks is a chandelier. It was so hot the whole coach pleaded infirmity to escape back to the hotel. There we could take refuge in our lovely cool rooms. They have domed brick roofs, so it is like being inside a beehive.

Tonight we climbed onto the top of the mountain to watch the sunset. Up there were many of the locals, young men and pretty girls covered by brightly colour veils wandered among the rocks on the summit. Then as the sun set, we all set off down a huge sand slope which extends several hundred feet back to the valley floor. The girls cast off their shoes and slid and skidded, giggling to the valley floor.

Sacred mountain of Jebel Barkal

Tomorrow we are off to Khartoum and we have been offered a hanger to try and extract the nozzle from the fuel tank. Mike, one of the Antonov pilots, has not only a grab stick but also a special type of torch which works in fuel. So we stand a chance of extracting the offending article.

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