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LEUCUS LIMEN, heading West along The Wadi Hammamat road.
Being a man of the sea for most of my life, riding horses -for extended periods- takes a bit of re-acclimation every time. By the tenth day I found myself marveling at the endurance & strength of these twenty plus mules hauling this medium-sized ship for ten-twelve hours a day while the rest dragged logs from back to front for the sled thing that carried it, for days on end.
The ship-sized “sled” was interesting for me. The cleverly designed structure was made out of an unfamiliar wood of thin trunks, the bark was still on it except where climbed-up or strapped-to of course. The twin rails (?) that it rested on curved-up identically fore and aft. Near the ends of these -just as they curved upwards, there was a small but stout-looking metal thing that connected the inner and outer bottom rails with a thick cross-piece. That little cross-piece allowed for (replaceable(!)) logs to rest under it when being pulled. This allowed those rails to last indefinitely as any damage or fiction was taken by the replaceable logs. I was impressed. It also allowed them to descend steeper sections since the sideways logs that the sled was rolling on couldn’t be used on a steep descent, those replaceable logs under the twin-rails took the damage. Where I come from fording a ship was a lot less sophisticated. My guess was that there were more than one of these heading back-and-forth along The Wadi Hammamat, charging a(n understandably) steep price for their services.
I was told that we were most of the way to a city called Gebtu, on The Nile north of Thebes. The thought of sailing down The Nile excited me greatly. I could not wait to see the legendary wonders of Egypt. Soon the relentless sands would give way to irrigated fields & villages and then… The Nile! After fourteen long hot days, those mules got that ship over a hill that gave us sight of the rich fields along The Nile opening before us below. Those amazing mules had it easier from here on out as we descended towards the river and the City of Gebtu. Any city at the end of a major trade route connecting two different worlds is going to be amazing. There will be women from every corner of the world, spices, foods drinks that I haven’t even heard of. Then you factor-in that it is on The Nile? I was almost giddy at this point. Especially after fifteen long, hot, lonely days in the middle of nowhere on a (fascinatingly) foreign trade-route. Soon, I told myself, very very soon!