“I’ll sleep on the outside, closest to the land so you don’t get too many mossie bites”, said my kind husband. Fast-forward to the next morning after being covered by bug spray inside and out of my sleeping bag and the Aussie has no bites and I have twenty-two including seven on my face. Argh, the joys of traveling!
During a nine-day gAdventures tour in Egypt in 2009, we spent one memorable full day and overnight on a felucca. Our vessel was a traditional Egyptian wooden sailboat piloted by one wrinkly man who spent much time enjoying the smoke of his personal shisha pipe. We left from the dock of our hotel on the Nile River and traveled for hours just checking out our surroundings. We saw scrawny cows on the river banks guided by their keepers, heard endless sounds of wildlife in the air and on land and relished in the clear sunshine-filled blue sky overhead above our canopy that kept our mattress covered boat shaded and cool. Mayer (our guide) gave us a goal for the day. Our job is to ‘lay like starfish’ and just exist…and so we did.
We were lucky to be on our felucca as the other boat carried the rest of the entire tour. In the morning on ours, it was just us and another couple. Two Aussies on their travels home from time abroad in Canada, James & Louise, shared in our ‘starfish’ experience. After lunch, Mayer jumped on board as well. Our felucca was for rest and relaxation only. Meals and facilities were aboard a support boat that showed up just in time for lunch. Each felucca moored beside it and we hopped the railing to get on board. With bathrooms, food, music and a larger seated space out in the sun we stayed on the support boat for just over an hour and then it was back to our feluccas.
Passing the time we chatted, read, listened to music, (I had an asthma attack), took in our surroundings and pinched ourselves that we were here, sailing down the Nile as so many have done before us. The sun set ablaze the sky in a myriad of colors and illuminated silhouettes of countless palm trees lining the river’s edge. The stagnant smell of the Nile wafted past with each passing sail. Dinner was again aboard the support boat, which was now tied to each felucca and moored to the land. Climbing over railings with just small torches and headlamps was a sight to behold. Some continued to hang on the support boat late into the night. The four of us jumped back onto our simple boat and got ready for sleep.
What that looked like was the following. Each of us brushed our teeth with water from a bottle and spat over different sides of the boat. Six people (we picked up another from the other felucca) managed to layer up, unroll sleeping bags, put our small belongings in the center of the boat safe from harm and maneuver ourselves so each had enough space. Baby wipes were passed around to wipe off the days sunscreen, sweat and make up. Bug spray was strategically applied to ourselves and our sleeping bags without spraying others in the face.
We slept soundly through the night nestled under the watchful eye of Mother Nature, and our guards and awoke at sunrise to the light bouncing off the water. After grabbing our clothes and changing inside of our sleeping bags we unzipped our nighttime cocoons and readied ourselves for the continuing journey down the river. It was then that I started itching…everywhere. My husband decided that he would try to take the brunt of the mosquitoes since I seem to have blood that they savor, but sadly, it didn’t do any good. Husband-0, Wife-23 and if you’re keeping score it’s the mosquitoes that actually won the battle.
James’ grandfather’s watch and my mobile phone found a way to remain in the Nile by somehow escaping overboard during our twenty-four hour stay. Objects, perhaps, but obviously they enjoyed their time enough that they wanted to stay in Egypt and sadly we bid them adieu as they extended their stay somewhere in the water. Our day was filled with relaxation on an old-school sailboat down the Nile River in Egypt and the night spent under the stars amidst north Africa’s sky. We are thankful to have had this felucca experience; so, if lost items and twenty-two mosquito bites come with the overnight package…I’ll take it and count myself lucky that the anti-malaria pills did their job!