Vaguely re-assured, we headed out that evening by ourselves to the Karnak Temple sound and light show. There are various shows throughout the evening in various languages – although to be honest, the language was sort of irrelevant. As is typical for sound and light shows, the narration was over the top and vaguely annoying.
During the first part of the show, the group moves en masse together through the temple, while they light up various parts, overly dramatic music plays, and voices drone on in stuffy English accents about stuff that doesn’t make sense. After about 30 minutes of this, they herded us past some snack stands to some bleachers overlooking the ‘sacred’ lake, where we could get an overview of the Temple complex. The rest of the show would take place there.
They lit up various parts of the temple, and the overly dramatic music and narration went on. And on. Finally after about 30 minutes of this (We pity the poor family of the guy in front of us who would have to watch his home video of the *whole thing*) people started getting fed up and leaving, us included. The first part of the show (walking through the temple at night) was interesting, but they really could have ended it there.
Upon returning to the boat, we were happy to see other passengers on board. It was mostly older Europeans, but we found some younger people to hang out with. The meals (buffet style) were good, but there was not much in the way of vegetarian food. In addition, despite the lightly filled boat, there was often not enough food to go around. We learned quickly to load up on deserts as soon as we got there, or there wouldn’t be anything left. For some reason, the Europeans ate quickly. There goes that stereotype.
Returning to our room, we heard a knock at the door. What happened next was a very uncomfortable moment. It was our tour guide, asking us why he’d been fired. He tried to blame it on *our* lack of English – because we often switched into French so he couldn’t understand us! English is our first language, so usually we don’t have too much trouble speaking it! He told us he’d be getting off the boat, and didn’t know if there’d be a replacement. So for the next day, we had no clue if we’d even have a tour guide. We arranged to tag along with other people’s groups if nothing happened.
Getting through the locks at Esna was like watching grass grow – all the boats leave Luxor heading south on Monday, and so there’s inevitably a huge bottleneck at the locks. So in a 4 day cruise, it’s not unusual to spend a quarter of it sitting in an industrial area waiting to get through the locks. We sat around in an industrial area for almost 24 hours waiting for our "turn" to pass through the locks. Not really how we’d imagined spending our vacation. Apparently it’s been as bad as having to wait 48 hours to get through.
The weather on the boat in December was brisk. There was a couple of times where it warmed up enough that we could have swum in the micro-sized swimming pool on the top sun-deck, but we passed. We didn’t see anyone else in the pool either. Otherwise, it was just a lot of playing cards, reading books, and watching the scenery go by – some of it pretty, some not so much so.
The interesting thing about watching the Nile go by is the realization of just how much life the river gives. There is always a strip of land on either side where there is life, towns, fields, but beyond that.. nothing. Desert, mountains, nothing.