24th April 2012
23.04.2012 - 24.04.2012 40 °C
Day break revealed a very different scene to the one we’d envisioned in the dark of the night. Our campsite was besides a field where men were bagging onions and donkeys and Toyota's began another days work under the Sudanese sun.
We’d need ruthless efficiency to get through the day. Somers was feeling a little better and we made beeline for the nearby Kawa Temple. Tutankhamun built a temple there in the 14th century BC and the temple was eventually and literally deserted in the 4th century when the Kushite Knigdom collapsed. The British have since excavated the site and the British Museum is now home to one of the granite sphinxes found there.
We spent a while beside the river before setting off for site number two, the temples of Defuffa, the seat of the first independent Kingdom of The Kush at around 1750 years BC. Some of the building have been dated to as far back as 2400BC making it the oldest urban settlement in sub Saharan Africa. At it entrance was a police station and there we met the officers of Kerma. We paid the entrance fee and after our visit were invited by the cops to have breakfast with them. We sat under the shade of a lean to and drank from the huge pottery urns that kept the water very cold. The officer insisted I have a go on his motorbike and then I absolutely failed as a man when I put the key into the petrol cap rather than the ignition. As images of Dennis Hopper and Tom Cruise’s ‘Maverick’ flashed through my mind I singularly failed to start the engine and ended with the chief of police suggesting I would be dangerous if I ever got it started. The food saved the day and, quite embarrassed, I gave the keys back to the officer and handed back my automatic machine gun to a second chap. The police were very accommodating. We shared a huge bowl of delicious fuul and bread and we brought to the table a tin of guava halves. A gesture that was as selfish as it was generous; quite why we had guava halves in our car I’ll never fully understand.
We had one more visit to squeeze in before reaching our destination and we stopped at the village of Wawa to find a man with a boat that get us across the Nile to the Temple of Soleb. It took a little while and a lot of questions but we did find just the man and it wasn’t his first time shipping foreigners back and forth.
The mini Nile cruise led us to the temple built by Amenhotep III in the 14th century BC in dedication to Amun and Nebmatre. It was quite a sight to behold sat on the edge of both the Nile with its green fringes and the desert whose sand disappeared into the distance. Several of its columns were still standing and again, two granite lions that once called Soleb home, have found their way across deserts and seas to the British Museum.
We crossed back and again had to politely decline the offers of tea and accommodation. The mission to Wadi recommenced with a renewed verve. We made it that evening, Mazir found us and took us for coffee and we met Sheldon, Mike, Ben and three cars of ‘fresh meat’ heading south on a Cairo to Cape Town trip. There was no room at the Kilopatra Hotel which was fine as we preferred to camp. There was a large walled enclosure which protected us nicely. It was only once we were inside the perimeter that we realised that its edges appeared to be an open air toilet. There was no smell and we found a turd-less spot. Seven months in Africa and we no longer cared that our standards had plumbed new depths. We cooked and ate a kilo of steak bought near Defuffa earlier that day went into town to watch WWE wrestling on a large screen whilst we went ‘crazy’ knocking back lemonades and fizzy orange.