The Nile expedition part 1

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I arrived in Alexandria to a waiting guide from my employer; he greeted me then said I am Anton. I greeted him then he said we will take your belongings to your accommodation, and then I will take you on a brief tour of this ancient city.
Tomorrow we will travel to Cairo on an Arab trader's sailboat up the Nile River.
Here it was wide, beautiful and peaceful but I knew that there were many treacherous stretches ahead.

I asked Anton to tell me about himself, he said he was a Scholar, I speak many languages and had the respect of many African rulers, I am of Greek descent and my family had lived here for hundreds of years.
I was captivated by the Pyramids and the unknown untapped secrets that they held.
I wished that I was an archaeologist instead of a surveyor at that time. I spent three days there and was given a great insight into the lives of the Pharaohs by Dr Allen Manson, the archaeologist from my employer.

He said I have been here for almost five years, I could spend my life here and there would still be a lot left to discover.
The progress is slow, dangerous and frustrating; we have lost diggers from tunnel cave inns.
Then some died from carbon monoxide poisoning, often we spend many months finding and opening a tomb only to find it had been robbed long ago. My guide Anton arranged for us to travel with a camel train for the next leg of my trip to Luxor, I soon got saddle soreness so I walked when I was able to keep up.

The climate was extreme the freezing nights then the unbearable heat in the day.
The terrain was arid desert with sand dunes and the occasional rocky outcrop.
We camped at the water wells along the way and had centuries posted to warn of bandits or wildlife danger.
Most days I would document events, draw images of the birds, animals, people and plants for use in the publication.
On the tenth morning, out of Luxor, I woke to the sound of yelling, bandits had struck in the night.
They cut the throats of the centuries and had stolen the trading goods and the pack camels.

Anton said that this was not uncommon but we would now return to Luxor as the camel trader has nothing to trade.
He said you are lucky you kept your instruments with you could not replace them here.
I said they are never out of my sight and always protected from the elements.
The bandits took most of our food and water containers so we had to make the journey back to Luxor at night.
Then rest under what shelter we could make in the heat of the day otherwise our water would not last, we ate lizards snakes anything we could find.

I was lying on the hot desert sand beside my crouched camel with a blanket propped up over me for shade.
The heat was so bad that the only way that I could deal with it was to let my mind take me to another place.
The travel through the night at first was pleasant except for the freezing temperature.
The stars were a sight to behold but after five days with little water and food my only thoughts were of survival.

Three days out of Luxor the sky darkened early in the day then a roaring sound started coming from the north.
I looked up to see an enormous sand storm approaching, Anton yelled, dig in, cover-up.
The sound grew as did the wind it was difficult to breathe, I remember wondering if it would ever end.
The storm raged into the night preventing us from travelling, the daylight showed half berried camels.
I then saw the true worth of these creatures of great endurance for this country, their ability to travel for weeks without water.
The long eyelashes preventing sand from getting into their eyes.
The way they close their nostrils preventing sand entering and wide well-equipped feet for walking on soft desert sand.

I rested for three days in Luxor as I was suffering from dehydration; Anton arranged to travel on the next camel train to take us to Khartoum. The camel train ended its journey there and traded goods with the rulers of the tribes, then took Ivory back with them. Seven days later a camel train arrived from Juba then after the trader had completed his business, we joined in for this longest leg by camel about nine hundred miles, the country changed day by day, we soon left the dry desert behind then lush grasslands hills and mountains came into view.
Then for the first time in many months, I felt safe with seeing green lush landscapes.
From Juba Anton had his contacts from the Moho tribe take us by foot to Lake Victoria which took twenty-four days.
This stretch had plenty of hair raising moments from charging elephants, to a close call with a crocodile as long as a London bus. Then there were the stories of head hunters and tribes using witchcraft.

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