Su Bayfield has been updating her blog recently with items from journals she has kept of her many visits to Egypt, creating an eclectic mix of photographs, insights and anecdotes. Very enjoyable. Here's a sample from her most recent post, Aswan in the Blink of an Eye (Journal: 21 April 2002):
Today was our group excursion around Aswan, in which we would see all of Aswan’s tourist attractions in five hours (!!?). I shudder to think that this is the usual amount time allotted to most people who visit the town as part of a cruise. But that’s just the way it has to be and at least it gives a flavour of the place, albeit a rushed one. We were on the coach and on our way to the High Dam by 8.00am.
Aswan High Dam
We drove onto the eastern end of the long dam past the Egyptian-Russian friendship monument, a modern concrete architectural sculpture called the ‘Lotus Tower’ that didn’t seem to bear any resemblance to a lotus to me. Our coach stopped in the middle of the dam and we were given the statistical facts and figures by a specialist guide. The Egyptians are very proud of this gigantic feat of engineering, the construction material used on the dam is said to equal that of 17 Great Pyramids. Aswan High Dam is a huge wall of rocks which captures the world’s longest river, the Nile, in the one of the world’s largest reservoirs, Lake Nasser. The first dam, in an endeavour to curb the annual Nile flood that had enabled agricultural fertilization for thousands of years, was built just to the north of here in 1889 and was subsequently raised several times as it could not cope with the volume of water coming down through Sudan from the Ethiopian highlands. In 1970 a new High Dam, called Saad el-Aali in Arabic, was completed after ten years work mostly with Russian funding and engineering expertise. The benefits to Egypt in controlling the annual floods are said to have raised agricultural productivity by providing constant and much-needed water for irrigation as well as preventing damage to the flood plain, but the downside of this is in the ever-increasing use of chemical fertilizers by the farmers, which in turn causes a great deal of pollution.
Many of you will be familiar with Su's excellent online resource for visitors to Egypt: Egyptian Monuments. If you haven't yet visited it I can recommend it.