Yesterday was the Egyptian celebration of Sham El Nessim. Sham El Nessim is the Spring Festival and it has its origins in Ancient Egyptian times and it means “sniffing of the breeze”.
In today’s Egypt it coincides with the Coptic Christian celebration of Easter, although it is a day of celebration for all Egyptians, not just the Christians. It feels like all of Egypt is out and about. Families picnic by the River Nile, in the parks, or even in any small green area they can lay claim to. Children are everywhere, playing, swimming, laughing. In Luxor, the families congregate by the river. They may be on the West Bank for swimming and generally having a good time, or they are on the Corniche on the East Bank, picnicking under the trees.
Traditionally, food plays an important part in Sham El Nessim. Three foods in particular, eggs, fesikh (a very smelly old salted fish) and lettuce. The eggs represent renewal, the fish represents fertility and the lettuce represents new life.
I was lucky yesterday to spend much of the day sailing on the River Nile on Spirit. We had a picnic lunch and found a quiet peaceful spot to enjoy the food. I have to admit NOT partaking of the fesikh, but replaced it with good old tuna! We actually moored up at the old Banana Island on the East Bank and one of the farmers there gave us fresh lettuce straight from the field, lemons picked from one of the trees, fresh mint for our tea and a huge stick of sugar cane.
These are the views from our quiet mooring place.
Eventually we reluctantly left the peace and headed back upriver. What we were not prepared for was the sudden change in direction of the wind.... the extremely strong current and fast running water, and suddenly we found ourselves under a tree which was partially submerged. Spirit was full of branches and twigs and we had to push ourselves out.
The tree is quite clearly seen in the pictures. Just the other side of the tree, there were 2 cruise boats moored up. As we left the tree, we were unable to get out of the current and found ourselves being drawn to the centre of the 2 boats. We hit the first one, and managed to wedge Spirit under the prow. Stuck! Well and truely. This brought out just about every sailor working on both cruise boats, and the yelling and shouting was phenomenal! Everyone wanted their say! We were hooked around the anchor and to try to just pull away would have broken the tent completely.
But we did it with the help of a passing motor boat, extricated ourselves, limped our way back to our mooring place where damage was repaired quickly, and the half a tree we had taken on board was disposed of. It was embarrassing, and I really should not be telling you all. Sorry I didn't get time to take any pictures, it all happened very fast, and the grumpy face of my captain dared me to take any photos of the damage afterwards.
So, if you were on the River Nile in Luxor yesterday, and you saw a limping felucca with a tent that had all but collapsed........ it was yours truely, trying to hide!