The power of the wind that filled our sails could be felt in the tension of the boat as we tacked up-wind, each traverse of the Nile pitched us further from horizontal. We were traveling down-stream, but up-wind. The wooden mast creaked as Aymen, the captain, swung the sail round to tack further.
Around sun-set we moor up to the Nile’s lush green west-bank that contrasts so strongly against the arid, desert hills behind it. You can see why the Nile is called the life-source of Egypt. Tamer, Aymen’s mate, shimmies up the mast, gathering together the sail as he sways in the wind several meters above this small, wooden vessel.
As we drift back across the Nile to the opposite bank, Aymen sings a soft song in his Nubian Arabic into the silence as the water forms the percussion as it laps against the boat. That night, the six of us in the boat sleep under the stars as we rock with the water.
The smell of cooking eggs fill the air as I wake up, bread being fried to go with it. The other guests on this boat leave by minibus to head further north to Luxor, I stay on-board for another day on the Nile. Aymen and Tamer change the tone of the conversation now the others have left; they have had a lot of fun on this river it seems.
Back in Aswan, the police board the boat but our offer of lunch avoids any question of baksheesh. “The police are no good” I am later told. Some things are the same the world over.