Back in Aswan after a side 'excursion', I joined a Felucca - a flat, triangular-sailed boat captained by an Arab crew of 3 and filled with an assortment of thirtyish backpackers on adult gap years. The boat's accommodation consists of a single huge mattress shared by all, with bathroom and washing facilities of the behind-a-bush and over-the-side persuasion. Two full days down and dirty on the Nile, eating simple vegetarian meals on board and laughing in that instant-friends way you do on the backpack trail, where people become friends in minutes because they know they'll never see each other again and making friends now just doesn't involve much risk.
It's been 72 hours of utter relaxation, detoxing (tomato stews and gritty Egyptian bread, with sweetened tea the strongest drink on board) sleeping under the stars gently swaying; I've even swum in the Nile, fighting against a 4km current and winning for a short distance before getting carried back downstream, laughing. Now in the touty tourist trap of Luxor, I'm feeling strangely annoyed with the world for chipping away intrusively at the inner peace I gained onboard Mohamed's little boat.
It'll pass. But I think I've found what I came here looking for. On that little felucca two important life realisations hardened into truths, big ones, and both require some concrete actions on my part to make them happen when I get back to London. It's just that the answers weren't in the place I thought they'd be.
(Answers like these usually come from the blood and fire of utter chaos, not the tranquility of a river. For me, anyway.)
The realisations? Let's just say there's a business plan I need to write, and a lady I need to talk to.