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Aswan, Egypt

Aswan seems to close the doors on the Middle East and to open those on Africa. Swirling and flowing strongly, the Nile snakes its way between islands and black rocks which disturb its stately majesty, and challenges the high dunes of golden sand to bury it once and for all. The feluccas with their great triangular sails travel lazily from bank to bank and island to island.

On Fridays, a barge chugs out on to the river with a crowd of young people on board, laughing and singing to the sound of drums and tambourines while others on the Nile corniche respond to their call. Night falls and the cafes along the riverside are lit up. When a football match is on, hundreds of men sip their tea, eyes fixed on the old television screens. At the least touch of brilliance from their favourite team, they applaud, yell and shout to each other.

The town on the right bank was already the hub of trade with Nubia in ancient times. No ivory or precious woods can be found on its narrow streets today but the third largest city in Egypt is full of the scent of spices straight from the south. The souk adopts the colours and smells of Sudanese markets. The Nubian people, recognisable from their black skin, possess a dignity and easy grace which give the Sudanese a similar appeal. Sudanese are present in fairly large numbers in Aswan enjoying life at a slow pace. Sudanese women wear long, brightly coloured veils wrapped around their bodies.