After twenty-four hours of traveling—door-to-door—we staggered into our comfortable and quiet hotel room in Cairo, desperate for a shower and a nap. We'll stay here for three nights before heading South to sail Up the River Nile.
The photo, above, shows the view which greeted us this morning, out our hotel room window—across the Nile to Zamalek Island.
At 4,130 miles, the Nile is the longest river in the world (my Egyptian guide assures me, despite recent claims that the Amazon might be slightly longer). It is fed by two tributaries: the Blue Nile (which begins at Lake Tana, Ethiopia) and the White Nile (which begins at Lake Victoria, Uganda). The Nile flows northward, emptying into the Mediterranean Sea, but only after the river has done a lot of work during its 4,000 mile journey. Because the Nile flows Northward, sailing South on the river is considered sailing UP the Nile.
Even in ancient times, the Nile was understood to be the sustainer of life in Egypt. Civilization could only exist in this otherwise dry, desert climate thanks to the annual flooding of the Nile. This flooding happened in the Summer, usually June through September, the result of monsoons upriver. Water and fertile, rich silt would be deposited along the banks of the river, which farmers had planted in anticipation of the glorious event. Ancient Egyptians credited the gods and the pharaoh for the annual, life-sustaining floods.
Because the river was necessary for life, most of human habitation, agriculture and important architectural monuments are found rather close to the Nile's banks. Burials always occurred on the West side of the river. This is because Ra, The God of the Sun, was born each morning in the East, crossed the Nile at Noon, and died each evening in the West. Thus, Ancient Egyptians buried their dead on the West side of the Nile, along with Ra.
Because the Nile is now controlled with damns and other water flow measures, it no longer floods as freely, as it once did. Nevertheless, the Nile is still a life-sustaining source of water and seafood.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248