I was asleep, stretched out in the semi-folded position in the back seat of the car. With three people on the road, the back seat often functions as a storage space, a “magazine table” for all the miscelanious stuff, a “coverup” for more stored supplies underneath and behind it; but lately, it’s also been a faithful aid in submitting to the hot summer’s tiring heat and the moon’s dreamful serenades. It was another one of the nights where the arrival time was promising to be in the early hours of the new days. And thus, we were driving Aswan to Luxor, with Edfu coming up as a via point.
Edfu hosts another one of Egyptian temples, the Temple of Horus. After attending the Sound and Light show at the Philae Temple in Aswan the previous night, making one at Edfu would have been a treat. But as often times our story goes, we did not know the time for the (English) show, we could not read our Arabic written program card, and the card listed wrong times regardless. And so we did what we always do in situations like this, just pretend that it will all work out. We just wondered how.
Tolik and Borya approached the guard. It seemed that the guard was doing a good job keeping the villains away from the Temple, unfortunately, the revolution have a similar effect on the entire Egyptian tourism. In fact, in Cairo along tourism went down by over 5 million people. “There needs to be minimum 5 people to run a show” stated the guard. At the moment they had 3, ourselves included. “But what do we do?” pitifully shrugged Borya. “Well…” Turned out they don’t need 5 people, they just need 5 tickets to be sold in order to cover the costs of putting on a show. We looked around our lonely-standing car among the vast parking space in hope for more late-comers, but somehow the dead of the night stretching behind the curve of the road did not provide promises. We quickly exchanged questioning glances and agreeing nods of the head, and turned to the guard – “5 tickets please.” For when you come for the show, and when the logistics fail but the spirits don’t, Show Must Go On!
It felt strange walking into the Temple harbor with only floor lights accompanying your presence. It was like going behind the curtain of a big show the morning of its grand performance, where everything rests peacefully, undisturbed, yet already full of energy and emotion for the night. ‘Three chairs please,’ and the chairs appeared in the center of a cleared arena, ‘Front row. Please.’ ‘Lights,’ and the pastel waves of pinks and purples spilled across the Temple’s wall. “What language would you prefer?” double checked Hamti, our guide. ‘Sound!’ and the introduction echoed in fast-forwarded English. At that point we made it to our seats –‘Action.’
Similarly the Sound and Light performance at Philae, the show took us through the history of the Temple as we moved within the two-century old remains. Conveniently enough, the three chairs were moving with us, or rather thoughtfully rushed by a porter from point to point to assure our greatest comfort. Though I must admit that after seeing the Giza S&L performance, I still think Edfu was more colorfully done, but the intimacy alone of the show was worth the price. There’s something to it, sitting in an arena of a Temple built for Gods, worshiped by priests, prayed in by monks, and destroyed by warriors… a place that saw more years of history than many countries have in their passports. A place that recorded stories from the time when no other evidence exists. It stands on the banks of the great Nile, in an African country that differs the most from the rest of its continental neighbors. So as the light projection of a feather took flight across the four walls and soared into the starry sky, so did our awe.
About an hour later we unwillingly strolled towards Wilma, disappointed that they would not let us camp out at the Temple’s clearing for the night. We gave Hamti a 50km lift to his house, which was on our way, and pursued our way to Luxor. ‘Good bye’ we waved to Edfu, which with its pastel lights off, was already camouflaging with the darkness of the night, ‘and thank you tourists for not coming.’