It's almost eight in the morning. The sun has been soaring up into the blue sky for a long time.
The ship had docked overnight. When we woke up, 110 km south of luxor, we have as a view the riverside area of Edfu and the carriage station that serves it. We installed ourselves in one of them. Eid, the guide, gives the order of departure.
To the rhythm of his Arabized Spanish and the trot of the equine team, we walked through the streets of the city.
It is polluted by an uncharacteristic assortment of banners and other electoral formats, from dozens of hopeful rivals. In times of democratic anxiety and diminished influx of tourists, Edfu protected himself with special measures.
We pass by two large cell trucks, separated by elements of some security force.
They were distinguished by a uniform crowned with a cap, black from head to toe, dark as the niqabs of the traditionalist Islamic women who passed by, next to the base of buildings with worn-out facades filled with business signs.
Citrus sellers promoted their fruit, this one, in vivid natural tones, next to a jillaba shop, dresses and other clothing, displayed in a high window above the entrance.
Edfu was fully involved in its contemporary bustle when, a few hundred meters to the west, the labyrinth of alleys opens onto the ancient and sandy redoubt of the Ptolemaic Egyptian era.
Temple of Edfu: the Majestic Gateway to the Ptolemaic Dynasty
Even at that hour, we found the Temple of Edfu almost deserted, befitting the Sahara around. Intact, like few other buildings erected in Ancient Egypt and monumental at the time.
Thirty-six meters, to be more exact, the impressive measure of the adobe façade that leaves us in awe, with its fallen and broken lines, a reflection of a creativity and architectural richness that only powerful leaders could aspire to.
In this case, they were all of Macedonian origin. From the first to the eighth king of the Dynasty, they all called themselves Ptolemy.
We admired the building from the beginning of the boulevard, somewhat incredulous.
Even at this distance, we can distinguish the figures inscribed on the façade, perceive the diversity of characters and their actions, added on both sides of the portico known as a pylon.
The Long and Profitable Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt
Edfu's temple began to be built in the 237th century BC, in the middle of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, founded by Ptolemy I Soter following the intriguing death of Alexander the Great.
At just 32 years old, Alexander perished in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, from malaria, typhoid fever, alcohol intoxication or poisoning, an undisputed motive remains to be determined.
Against the gradual disintegration of the empire bequeathed by Alexander, one of the most vast in history, Ptolemy I Soter seized Egypt, declared himself Pharaoh's successor and expanded the territories dominated by his Dynasty to far-off Nubia, south of Aswan. The capital of the Ptolemaic Kingdom fell to Alexandria.
Over the years, Macedonians have assimilated much of Egyptian ethnicity, culture, and manners. They began to praise the Egyptian gods as always.
The temple of Edfu was just one of several that were dedicated to them in an unconditional and persistent way, as evidenced by the fact that its construction lasted until 57 BC
Edfu Temple. the Great Egyptian Sanctuary of the god Horus
We approach the entrance. It is housed by two statues of crowned falcons, one on each side, below other images that show humanized versions of the bird. In any case, they represent Horus, the Egyptian god of the sky and royalty, son of Osiris and Isis.
Edfu, or the ancient city of Nekhen that once stood there, has always been the main cult center of Horus. Coincidence or not, the temple of Edfu is one of the best preserved in all of Egypt.
We entered. The first sight we see is of a temple guardian, dressed in a jilaba, with a turban wrapped around his head. We found him sitting at the base of a column, absorbing the sun's rays that highlighted him from the dimness.
The watchman welcomes us. Then give us a photograph. For five Egyptian pounds, of course, we didn't even expect it to be any other way.
We progressed towards the interior of the sanctuary, through the chapels that surround it, through corridors with electric lighting and others exposed to sunlight, full of shadow play, with the hieroglyphics that filled the walls and large columns with more or less relief and definition , depending on the angle at which the light falls on them.
Preserved as they remain, these inscriptions provided Egyptologists with clues and data crucial to the knowledge of the Egyptian civilization, language, religion and mythology on which it was based, including the Sacred Drama, the divine conflict between Horus and Seth, the latter, the god of chaos, war and drought.
The inscriptions and engravings also tell relevant episodes from the building of the temple itself. We continue with your discovery.
Soon, in an adjoining and open section, divided by incomplete walls and columns that could not withstand the weight of history and the aridity of the desert.
The Navigation Between Edfu and Kom Ombo
After midday, with the sun at its peak and inclement, we crossed Edfu again, heading for the Nile. We reboard.
Shortly thereafter, we resumed navigation through the aorta artery of the Egyptian civilization, upstream.
Far from the time of the desired and fruitful floods, the flow of the great African river also flows safely from the drought generated by Seth that the peasants have always feared.
It turns out to be large enough to admit three or four boats side by side.
Three of them navigate this way. They furrow the intense blue of the Nile, between palm forests, banks and islands of papyrus, grass and other types of reeds and vegetation grazed by successive herds of cows.
We passed traditional falucas, with a shallow deck, two masts and the same number of white sails.
And by smaller boats, rowing. In one of them, a teenager plays a fife, sitting against a bunch of freshly cut grass, rocked by the swell of ferries.
Flocks of black cormorants, with yellow beaks, fly over us, indifferent to the river traffic and the grainy delight of the passengers lounging around the pools.
Kom Ombo and the Temple of Horus and the Crocodile God Sobek
At about four o'clock in the afternoon, we docked at a stairway and shop-lined dock, on a meander of the Nile accented by the island of Nagaa Al Jami.
The Temple of Kom Ombo loomed high, with its array of columns towering above the riverside trees.
Upon disembarkation, the pedestrian path to the monument immediately follows. the big star Frog it was about to disappear below the horizon.
In the last light of day, Kom Ombo had a redoubled charm that we wanted to live as long as possible.
Even if, two millennia after its construction during the reign of Ptolemy IV, it had deteriorated more than that of Edfu, damaged by the floods of the Nile, it is said also by earthquakes and by the imposition of the Coptic Christians who, at one time, they adapted the church and damaged several of its hieroglyphs.
What is known today is that the Kom Ombo temple was only completed in the last years of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, some additions and improvements carried out since the Romans were owners and lords of these parts of Egypt.
Its halls, courts, shrines, atriums and chambers, in this case, erected following a double entrance on opposite sides, arranged in praise of an improbable divine duo, the one formed by Horus and by the crocodile god of fertility and creation, Sobek.
We wander among the columns, determined to decipher, on our own, at least one or two of the intricate illustrations.
The Sun God Ra and the Lush Sunset over Upper Egypt
We walked through these works when we realized that Ra was dissolving in a drama of color, behind the Nile, the palm grove and the endless Sahara desert to the west.
Visitors from all over, including several Egyptian families, sense the magical transition from day to night.
They position themselves to appreciate it, from lay people to almost Salafi Muslims, each in their own ways and preparations, in a frantic coming and going that we capture like curious photographic drags.
Moments later, Ra enters the Duat underworld aboard the double solar barge Mesektet.
Also according to Egyptian mythology, already with the head of a ram, in the company of other deities, Sia, Hu and Heka and safe from the shadow monsters by Enead and by the unusual and far-fetched Seth.
Kom Ombo took a short twilight turn, with the sky giving up its blue. When darkness finally abducted Egypt, we returned to the earthly boat we were following.
There we recharge our energies, waiting for Ra's transshipment to his morning vessel and the renewal of his divine dawn.