National Geographic : 1955 May
720 Jan La prt On a Swimming Tour of Submerged Philae Island, the Author Explores a Shrine Impounded waters at Aswan Dam drown the island where ancients worshiped the goddess Isis. Diving with face mask and fins, Mr. Goddard swam among once-magnificent ruins now coated with moss. by bird life in marvelous variety and profu sion. Orange-billed skimmers scooped up min nows from the river surface. On the reedy banks gleamed regal white ibis. Bald-pated marabou storks, four feet tall, strutted like pompous men, snipe and sandpipers squab bling at their feet. Flocks of teal and Egyp tian geese darkened the sand bars, while overhead soared the space-loving osprey. Both heat and wind abated at sundown: so we frequently stroked on after dark. When paddles dragged with our exhaustion, we looked for a soft sandbank or for the camp fires of Sudanese fishermen. These beacons guided us to a welcome unfailingly hospitable. The 1,400-foot, nine-span railway bridge we passed under near Kosti was the first we had seen since leaving Owen Falls, more than 1,500 miles behind us. The bridge guard casually glanced at us, turned away, and then leaped to the rail to stare. Those weren't crocodiles-they were boats, driven by men who dipped long, stiff arms in the water! At Ed Dueim we watched toiling natives load barges with bales of cotton from El Gezira. a vast flat area between the White and Blue Niles. Here 1.000,000 irrigated acres produce extra-long-staple cotton, among the finest grown. Chief Offers Wife for Kayak As we approached each village, the chief would be informed of our coming. He would put on his best turban and march down to the water's edge, heading a welcoming delegation. My kayak so fascinated one chief that he couldn't wait for a demonstration: he jumped in and paddled around in a circle backward. He thought so highly of the boat that he wanted to trade me one of his four wives for it. Our kayaks were the smallest craft, we were told, ever to pass through the 16,400 foot White Nile Dam, 30 miles south of Khartoum. The structure was completed by the British in 1937: its backed-up waters and those behind the Sennar Dam on the Blue Nile irrigate Egypt.